I have a confession to make: I am not very good at praying. While I grew up praying over meals, saying prayers in church, and saying prayers at bedtime, I just am not very consistent at meaningful prayers in my adult life. I feel like I am still learning to pray with purpose.
The reasons for this are probably numerous: I’m often too tired to pray coherently at bedtime. I am up and down at mealtimes making sure my daughters have what they need, and they often start eating before I get a chance to sit down, causing me to forget to give thanks for our food. And sometimes I think I assume that my thoughts are good enough as prayers, even though some days my thoughts are more like angry ramblings than pleas for Godly help. Mainly it boils down to the fact that I just don’t take the time and conscious thought to pray to God, for whatever reason.
And I think this is a huge problem, because I find that I am not calling upon heaven’s help to aid me in important decisions, small decisions, or for parental assistance. I mainly rely upon myself, and boy, is that a mistake. I have not been very happy or very patient lately. And God sure could help me develop those traits.
While I was taught how to pray as a child – begin by address Heavenly Father, give thanks for your blessings, ask for things you need and things others need, repent, and close in the name of Jesus Christ – I don’t know if I really understood the deeper, spiritual way to pray, by praying with your whole heart and soul, by picturing Heavenly Father near you, listening intently to you. I don’t know if I ever fully grasped that prayer opens the windows of heaven: it’s communicating with the Divine. I guess as a relatively righteous person growing up – reading scriptures daily, going to church every Sunday, attending Mutual activities on Wednesdays, and LDS Seminary before school in my high school years, and living the standards of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – I didn’t necessary feel like I had urgent matters of the heart and soul to take to the Lord in prayer. I was a good person, living a good life.
There have certainly been times in my life when I prayed (and cried) a lot, times when I begged for the Lord’s help and guidance and aid, and those times clearly stick out in my mind as times when I felt that prayer was real, that prayer works. And I still believe in the power of prayer. But, sometimes I lack the conviction to use prayer for the wonderful gift it is. I neglect the gift of prayer.
While I do pray daily, I don’t often give it the respect it deserves. I’m talking to God, the Lord Omnipotent here people! And how do I treat him as I talk to him? I rush through my conversations with him because I just want to eat, or go to bed, often repeating the same mindless things I always say – thank you for this day, for this food, bless the food, bless our girls, etc. I treat the individual who can help me the most in my life like that old acquaintance (not even a good friend) I randomly bumped into on the street, who I share trivialities with. I just scratch the surface. I am not letting God into my life like I could and I should.
I don’t feel like the same, “good person living a good life” that I did when I was a teenager, mostly due to the fact that life gets much harder once you leave the nest. Add in college, marriage at a young age, twins before the age of 22, and being poor and in loads of debt, and I don’t see my life as being as simple and wonderful as when I was 16 years old. I NEED the Lord’s help more than ever right now, and yet, I am not praying for it, at least not with full purpose of heart, not consistently.
A big part of the problem is my lack of humility. I am stubborn and strong-willed sometimes, and think I can use my own knowledge and resources to figure out our life. I assume that because God blessed me to be this way, blessed me to be smart and resourceful, that he trusts me to figure it out on my own. While that is true to some degree, I am denying God’s hand in my life. I’m not “okaying” things with HIS will. I am trusting MY will, and smacking God in the face by doing so. He gave me these characteristics and I abuse them by not consulting him, by not thanking him. I am often just too proud to get down on my knees and formally plead for help. Sometimes I think it just feels like too much work, too much humility.
My goal in confessing my sin to the world is to be held accountable. I need to change. I need to repent and humble myself. I am not as great or as smart as I sometimes think I am. I need direction in my life. I need more love and compassion. I need blessings upon my husband and my children. I need the Spirit of the Lord to dwell in our home and in our hearts. I need a change of heart.
Both Josh and I have made a goal to say one, truly meaningful prayer every day for a month and see what happens. Want to join us?
Please help us in our desire to change by telling us how you have changed your heart, how you have humbled yourself and turned to the Lord in prayer. Tell us how you remind yourself to pray meaningfully, or how you make sure you really take your time when you pray. Tell me how you pray. Inspire us with words of hope and inspiration, please.
*This post has been syndicated on Blogher.com.