Wednesday night at our student ministry meetings, we talked about prayer! We asked the students if there a right or wrong way to pray and to list ways of praying?
They then moved on to talking about how much they pray. We invited the students to rank the top ten things that they spend time on in a given week. Asked, where their faith ranks? And if there would be a way to rearrange their priorities to make more room for prayer or if there were more creative ways they could pray.
I think prayer is kind of like a box of chocolates! We all have a different style and approach! There’s no one RIGHT or WRONG way. There are some ways better than others. Here’s some not so good ways … not wrong … just not very productive:
1. The “Let’s Make a Deal” Prayer: This prayer starts with “God if you do this for me I will do this for you…” God if you just help me pass this test, I’ll never not study again!
2. The “Gimme Gimme Gimme” Prayer, also known as the “Christmas List” prayer: It goes God, I need ____(Fill in the blank)___ and peace on earth, Good night!”
3. The most common prayer is probably the “911 Prayer.”
This prayer starts with “GOD! HELP!”
So, what are the more meaningful or productive ways to pray? I have a couple of
1.Jesus tells us how in His sermon on the mount! Just read it!
2. Another good tip I heard once was to establish a pattern. For example,
I do it every morning while brushing her teeth, putting on makeup, and drying my hair. Now, every time I pick up my toothbrush it is second nature to talk to God! It's kind of funny how that pattern has worked in my life.
3. Be creative! Use the Internet. There are lots of prayer sites, interactive prayers, prayer rooms, online labyrinths, etc.
4. Look at prayer as a conversation where you talk to God and God actually talks back to you? Remember Elijah (1 Kings) and the earthquake, fire, wind story? He didn’t find God in any of those things, but in the silence. So, sit and the somewhere in the silence, there is a still, small voice talking to you! Most of the time, our lives are too loud to recognize the small voice. This takes some work. The key is to not give up because you don’t understand what God is telling you or the voice is muffled. Keep seeking, find silence until the voice becomes more clear. This is work people! But is so worth it!
A specific way some people remember how to pray and not do the not so productive these let’s make a deal, gimmie/gimmie, and 911 prayers is called the ACTS or SPOON prayer.
A = Adoration (tell God that God is wonderful and how!)
C = Confession (say your sorry for your sins and what they are!)
T = Thanksgiving (thank God for all wonderful things you/we have!)
S = Supplication (Sometimes it’s called “intercession” - praying
for people that you know that need God and why)
Or even more simply:
S - saying sorry
P - praise
O - others
O - ourselves
N - needs
So, considering all of this and what works for you, do you think God answers prayer?
I am convinced God ALWAYS answers ALL prayers. Follow me here - Here is what I think God’s five responses are. There may be more than 5, these are just the 5 ways I have seen God at work in answering prayer in my life and the lives of my friends and family:
1) Yes (Way good to hear!)
2) No (Not so good to hear!)
3) Maybe. Let’s see what happens (free will)!
4) Yes, but be patient. Or yes, but not now.
5) It is answered but you forgot to notice or it wasn’t what you expected, so you didn’t notice!
The bottom line, I think, is that it is difficult to pray, to trust, to confide in God … who can’t be physically seen, heard, touched, or necessarily physically sensed. But in finding way(s) that work best for you to pray, you will more fully be able to sense God's work in answering your prayers.
We also offered the students a chance to pray interactively. We transformed the cathedral room at Zion into a room with 8 prayer stations based on the Lord's prayer. The students were given 30 minutes to go to the various stations and complete activities. See the next blog entry for all the details on this experience!