I’ve been encouraging folks to pray since I taught middle school Sunday School at Mt. Auburn Baptist. I was in the midst of college at the University of Cincinnati (go Bearcats!) and managed to be a regular at church, singing in the choir and going to adult Sunday School. Someone thought I should give teaching a try, and so, with the help of a ‘real’ adult I did. As I recall, we did alright with the class, and I do figure they came away with some knowledge of the Bible, some positive feelings about God, and the idea of a relationship with Jesus, if not yet a commitment to the Lord. And some idea of what prayer is for, about, and how to do it.
Since that time, oh, about 35 years ago, I’ve done a bit more work on prayer. I’ve taken classes, I’ve been to retreats, I’ve read books. And I’ve taught about prayer, in seminars, Bible Study, Sunday School, and sermons. And I’ve prayed. Sometimes long stretches, sometimes with intention, sometimes in emergencies. Alone with God, with others, in groups. All sorts of places, situations, times. And so here is my collected wisdom about prayer and the best way to talk with God.
Just do it.
Seem a little simplistic. Like maybe I ought to be able to come up with something a little better, more impressive, worthy of a newsletter article.
But, no. There it is, just like the Nike slogan, which has been around since 1988. Simple, to the point, obvious. Not always easy or convenient, but true.
And you already know this. You do it. In your own way and time, with your people or alone. Out loud and fancy, in your heart and heartfelt, prayer happens in your life.
Folks experience what prayer is like in different ways. You may feel like you are conversing with God. You may not. You might find it a great routine to pray at bedtime each night. You might fall asleep. You might sprinkle prayer throughout your day.
You might pray all at once. However you are doing it, that’s how you should do it.
We pray because we believe. We pray because we hope. We pray because we are devoted to our Lord, Jesus Christ. And we probably know that over time, as we pray and pray and pray, that it changes us. Closer to God is always my hope, just as talking with a friend over the years draws you closer together with them.
And answers? Sometimes instant and surprising. Sometimes not coming, or not being perceived. We get answers from friends, from the Bible, from church, from our own hearts leading us, from a word from the Lord, and many more ways. It is not a guaranteed what-we-wanted answer, but a God-knows better answer, when it comes. We often think that we do not get answers, but when I have kept a prayer journal, for myself or a church, there are answers galore as I have looked back through the pages.
You pray now, right? I do too. Keep doing that. It’s good. Maybe pray more? Wouldn’t hurt.
Prayerfully, Pastor Karen