Monday, 15 June 2009

Day 41

Let’s talk about prayer.

First a confession:

I don’t pray. (When I write it down like that, it really does not look good.)

But let me explain. I find it very difficult. I feel self-conscious when I pray. My doubts quickly get in the way. Half way in the prayer I start to question the images about God popping up. I think I need a good pop-up blocker the next time I try. When I pray my mind wanders and before I know it, I am busy buying groceries, writing my next post, thinking of the dogs, planting vegetables or planning our next holiday, all the while my brain switched to autopilot prayer mode.

Still there is a longing in me to pray.

This longing is not new. One of the old thinkers in the Christian faith said that our hearts are restless until we find our rest in God. He talked about a God-shaped gap that we drag along in life. God created us in such a way that we can’t help yearning for God.

I am not alone on this journey. I know there are others out there who struggle with prayer, but yearn for God.

That's why I am going to stick around this theme for a while, hoping (praying...) that a restless heart (and mind) will find peace.


Narfie said...

And here I thought I was all alone in my struggles with prayer.

My struggle is a little different than auto pilot though... somewhere I started hiding from God for God-only-knows-what-reason. And getting back to talking to Him is really really hard.

But the pop-ups we have in common. I keep trying to pray and then messages from random people pop-up that challenges my understanding of God and His role in my life... and even His mercy for little me. So, I just give up. It's too complicated and tiring.

So I'm going to follow you on this journey of prayer and hopefully this restless heart and mind will find some peace.

Hopefull said...

I find you blog very inspiring and read it daily. I'm so glad I'm not the only one with this problem. I find it difficult knowing what to say to God. What is strange is that I grew up with church and all the rest. I think my problem begins with my picture of God. Throughout my life I have been tought to see God as a school principle sitting up there, watching and waiting for me to make a mistake. Your words have since started to change my picture of God, and for the first time a relationship is starting to form. I feel possitive, where I once was ashamed because I found it so difficult to have a relationship with God.

Sparky said...

Yes, yes, yes! I have the same problem. I cannot pray for long continuous time periods. I stopped the long prayer in the morning, in the evening and whenever a long time ago... for good!

I pray the entire day. I would constantly talk to God and it works for me. If someone asks me to pray for them, I do so right after they leave. 2 or 3 sentences, tops.

I found these much more sincere then the long, monologue-type prayers. I want a dialogue! So when I do read the Bible I prayer lots of little prayers in between.

I hate to conform to the norm... besides what are we going to do one day in heaven. Walk up to God, give a long marathon speech (with nice big words for extra bonus points) and walk away? ...or are we going to use short sentences and listen to His response? I really prefer the latter!

Fourie Rossouw said...

Narfie, I know that "hiding-from-God-feeling", it sucks, a real prayer pooper.

Hopeful, the images we have of God can have a big influence on our connections with God. That's one of the reason why I try to avoid using pronouns (him, her) when I speak of God. I'll rather sound clumsy, than reinforcing stereotypes. I'm glad this blog is of some help on your journey to break down the images that hold you back.

Sparky, I think you are on to something. There is an ancient spiritual discipline coming out of the monastery traditions that teaches people to pray shorter, but more often. Thanx for the great insight! I'll give it a try.

harold said...

what is your expectations when you pray ? you say you feel self-conscious /too complicated / difficult knowing what to say to God...this implies an expectation, a return action / feeling / something after or during prayer. maybe a revelation ? a little flag/flash of lightning saying 'message sent' complete with nokia beep tone ?

maybe just talking with no expectations.
maybe allowing god to listen with no expectations.
maybe believing that he hears and understands with no expectations.

Keith said...

Sparky and others - essentially I do the same. I also battle with the prayer time thing - too structured and I feel like I have a shopping list to "burden" God with. Too loose and I have the same problem - the mind tries to multi-task and let's face it we battle with doing two things at the same time well.

What works for me is the in between chats to God - often it is just the thought that says - this and that issue in my life is really something that I should lay down with God.

I also try and make my last concious thought each time I fall asleep a "Goodnight Lord thanks for the day!"

debeerx2 said...

I have to confess that I also battle with this whole prayer thing.

When I was younger I was able to pray for (nearly) hours on end. Now that life (and its disappointments, tragedies, and other doubtful experiences) has walked its course with me, my picture of God has changed and I find myself battling to have discussions with Him. I find it easy to discuss the easy stuff like how beautiful creation is, and how thankful I am for what I have but when I have to ask for help on the stuff that is really important in my life the discussion tends to fall apart because of all my different pictures of God.

Thank you for your blog, I look forward to join you on your journey.