There are literally hundreds of books written on prayer and how to pray. Lots of people spend more time reading and buying the latest books about prayer than actually praying. Why do you suppose that is? The people buying these books obviously see prayer as a value but apparently find it difficult.
Recently, I received an insight on this matter of prayer and why we value it, while at same time we seem to avoid it. A reason could be that many of us still operate out of the Greek understanding that the human person is made up of a body and a soul. We tend to divide our lives into two categories, spiritual life and our normal life. We tend to see our spiritual life as separate from our everyday life and fail to integrate them. We “work on” our prayer life as if it were divorced from the rest of our lives.
For too many people prayer is often seen as an obligation or “putting in our time” with God? Imagine a woman who gives her husband 15 minutes a day of her time and spends a lot of it complaining or thinking of all she has to do. If this is the only time they give each other, their relationship would be pretty shallow and unfulfilled.
I think this often happens in our relationship with God. We try to carve out some time for Him, successfully or unsuccessfully, during our day and then often do not think about God again until we are in church or at our next prayer period.
Prayer is meant to nourish our relationship with God and not be limited to a time or place. Think of how you nurture your other significant relationships. One thing you probably don’t do is read to them words already prepared.
To develop a good relationship with someone we must spend time with that person and share about our lives, our joy and pain, our hopes and dreams. We talk about what is happening in each one’s life and our thoughts of that other person are not limited to our physical presence.
Why should our relationship with God be that much different? Why do we try all kinds of prayer methods? Somehow we often look at the saints and measure our prayer by theirs. We fail to recognize that much of their prayer was conversation with God. They made God the center of their lives. Many times our prayer becomes monotonous or boring so we give up. It doesn’t have to be that way. Set a realistic amount of time for prayer each day and use it to share with God the ordinariness of our lives, including our thoughts and feelings. It is our time to be honest with God. God is always with us.
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