Do you pray all the time or does it just happen in a crisis and in the darkest moments of life?
However and wherever you do it – praying is a good thing. A survey a few years ago found that people who prayed were generally happier and lived longer than those who didn’t. This isn’t the only reason to get on your knees…
For Christians prayer is a lifeline – it’s even been described as our ‘oxygen’. So it’s surprising that some of us struggle with it and even find the whole experience a bit awkward.
Diane is a working mother of two children who admits she was slightly uncomfortable praying openly, especially among others who seemed to find it easy. She explained, “I suppose I was quite Anglican about it, and thought this is a ritual and a right that should happen in a proper place, not just any old where, in a playground or in the supermarket or over dinner… I felt it should be something that was stage managed.”
But last year her ideas and experience of prayer changed.
“While I was comfortable with lots of aspects of my faith and an on-going relationship with God, what I was less comfortable with was that open conversation, that really direct connection to God, talking about everyday things – I shied away from it.”
Diane had been exploring her Christian faith more deeply and talking with others about prayer. She said, “It was hard to just say to God, ‘I’m finding it a bit tricky can you help?’” She had the feeling that she was getting it wrong if she wasn’t praying in the way others did.
In May last year the vicar of her church in Kent announced that they would be running 24-7 prayer as part of Thy Kingdom Come – the global wave of prayer between Ascension and Pentecost. He asked for people to join in and Diane found herself volunteering for one of the slots during the middle of the night.
Diane is a member of her church choir. “I love music and I used music during my first ‘night-shift’ at 2am. I found that prayer began to come naturally using the tools and ideas from Thy Kingdom Come. Being peaceful and on my own, while the whole house was asleep, I started a conversation with God. I put very quiet music on, turned off all the electronic devices and just started talking with God, as if I was having a cup of tea and chatting to someone. It was a quietening that was natural. It didn’t feel wrong or awkward anymore and it felt like it was something I should be doing.”
Looking back Diane said she isn’t sure what was holding her back and making her unsure about prayer. “Prayer for me was more structured before I joined in with Thy Kingdom Come… I guess I was fitting prayer in, whereas now I’ve started to make it part of the day. If I’m driving to work, I think about the day with God and ask for His grace and guidance with the issues ahead.”
Diane will be taking part in the wave of prayer this year and says, “I would recommend giving it a go… The experience of being in our church building in a moment of quiet prayer is different to when it’s full of people on a Sunday, so using the building you have in your community differently is an important and inspiring part of that time. If you’ve never embraced the opportunity to just be still with your relationship with God, I’d encourage anyone to join in and to open themselves up to the possibility that the conversation can be two way.”
“What I now realise is that there isn’t a right way or a wrong way to pray, it’s just what’s in your heart, what’s in your mind and it is opening yourself up to that moment of stillness and quietness.”
If you’re looking for new ways to experience prayer and praying for your friends and family to know Jesus Christ, have a look through our resources here.