God loves to talk! Had you ever thought about that? He is a communicator. Way back in Genesis, He said, “Let us make man in our own image.” Who was He talking to? Himself? No! To the other two members of The Trinity!
Now the fact that God is a communicator puts a whole new spin on this thing called “prayer”. If you are anything like me, you rush in, give God your “to-do” list, thank Him for His blessings, and whoosh! You are out the door! Now what if your best friend treated you that way? How long would you be best friends?
It dawned on me one day that “Chatty Kathy” (me) was doing all the talking, and I began to ruminate on the subject of prayer. This is what I came up with.
Before You Pray
It would be helpful if, before you pray, you develop an understanding of who God really is. You must recognize and acknowledge that you are communicating with the Creator of the entire Universe! He is Awesome! He is Majestic! Also, understand before going into prayer that there are many, many things that we can never fully know about our Creator. So approaching God in prayer should be a careful, well-thought out venture. Of course, at times it will be necessary to pray quickly over some urgent matter, but, for the most part, you want to devote regular time to prayer and communion with God. Know that as time goes on and your relationship with God develops, it will be easier and less intimidating for you to pray, but if you have not had much success with your prayer life in the past, this may be a good time to re-think your concept of God.
Next, in order to hear from God, you must be in the mind frame to listen. Too often we approach God with the idea that we are going to tell Him all about our problems, but rarely do we approach Him with the idea of listening to what He has to say. Let me ask you this – wouldn’t you like to spend serious time with God not only praying, but actually receiving what He has to say? In order to do this, you must remember that praying to God is not only a time to air out your problems, but a time for God to talk to you as well. In other words, it’s a two-way street – a dialogue, not a monologue.
So, after you have mentally prepared yourself to pray (recognizing what an Awesome God we serve) and you have prepared yourself to listen, you are ready to pray! Following are steps that will help to ensure the time you spend with God is productive for both you and for Him:
Find a Place To Be Alone
Find a place where you can be alone. Your ‘secret’ closet may not be just an expression, but a real place where you retreat to get away from the hustle and bustle of the house. Any place is fine (even outside) if it is relatively free from interruptions. Find somewhere away from all the distractions, and turn off the telephone (and the cell phone, and the pager and the Blackberry and the Palm) and the television set. Turn your phone or ringer off and, if necessary, leave it in another room so that you will not be tempted to answer it or check for messages. Close any open doors and shut any open windows. If you’re outside, find a quiet spot or put on some headphones, a baseball cap or sunglasses. You want to spend this time enclosed with God, focused only on Him.
Take Your Time
Give yourself as much time as you can with God. An hour is great, and a half hour will suffice as well. And, when you get there – relax! Think to yourself, I’m not going anywhere. Take a moment to enjoy your surroundings – the peace, the serenity. Remind yourself that you are going to live for the moment, forget about everything else and truly enjoy the presence of God. Take deep breaths. Breathe in deeply through your diaphragm… Breathe out… Feel your body relaxing. Remind yourself why you are there – think of how much you are looking forward to hearing God’s voice; think of how you much you long to be in close communion with God. Think of how much it would truly mean to you to understand what God has planned for your life. Take another deep breath. Prepare to meet God.
Set the Mood
If you were inviting a friend to dinner or children to your child’s birthday party, would you invite them over to a dirty house? Of course not! You would spend days or hours cleaning your house, decorating and buying party or dinner supplies. Why then don’t we make those same preparations for God? You hear people talking about inviting God in, right? But how do you do that? Think about what God would like – play some nice gospel music. Light some candles for intimacy. Make your secret closet nice – make sure it’s not cluttered, messy or dirty. Not only will it distract you, it will not foster the mood of anticipation and excitement you need to communicate with God. God will meet you where you are, but wouldn’t it be much better to greet God in nicer surroundings? Put on some aromatherapy and have your bible in reaching distance. Prepare your surroundings as you would for any honored guest. Make sure that you have prepared a place for Him as you invite Him in.After all, this is special time for you, and you want to enjoy it.
Find a comfortable position to pray in. The bible is filled with examples of individuals standing up, laying down or praying in other ways (Jonah prayed from the belly of a fish!). Find a position that is comfortable for you and you alone – don’t be guided by what other people have told you is right or appropriate. It’s okay to lay prostrate, stand up, relax leaning against the back of a couch or sit cross-legged on your bed or on your floor. Find some pillows. Dig in. Whatever works for you in this case will also work for God. It will also put you in a better mood for when He arrives. Don’t spend one second worrying about form or fashion – arrange yourself in a position that you can easily remain in for a good 20 or 30 minutes, because you won’t be going anywhere any time soon! And if you should fall asleep, don’t worry about it. God knows how to reach you!
Clear Your Mind
You have a hundred things on your mind. Things that you’ve done that day, things you need to do and things you wish you had time to do. If you’re anything like most people, you don’t just have one to-do list, but several categories of to-do lists! One for home, one for work, one for the kids, one for your family, one for school, one for church, and one for your spouse. It’s good to be busy, but having too many to-do lists can cause too much confusion which makes it much more difficult to hear what God is trying to say to you. Learn how to center yourself and clear your mind. Here is a simple exercise. If you have a candle lit, focus on that little flame that is swaying back and forth. Slowly drop all other thoughts from your mind as you watch the different colors in the flame – blue, orange, yellow, and white. Marvel at this thing that God has done – bringing such beauty to such a small, little flame. Now is a good time to think about God. Not talk to Him, but think about Him. Think about when you first met Him – where were you? How old were you? What did His presence feel like to you? Revel in those memories and begin to let them warm you from the inside out. God is wonderful! Remember the first time you discovered that for yourself.
2009 April Lorier