When I was a kid and going to Sunday school, we talked about the right way to pray. Perfect prayers. It was about kneeling and being sincere. You didn’t raise your voice in frustration. You didn’t pray about “dumb” things. You prayed about taking care of people (bless mommy and daddy and grandma) and you kept it short and sweet and polite.
Back then, I didn’t get how awesome prayer was.
It wasn’t until I became an adult that I realized I get to “chat” with the creator of the universe. Sure, he made the mountains and the clouds and the whole everything, but he also made me and I can talk with him any old time I wanted. Somehow, in learning all the manners of prayer I missed the miracle of it.
When I was a kid, my life was a mess. Sometimes my prayers were more about screaming “Why” than they were politely asking God to bless people. This made me feel bad about prayer. I was made to believe I was a terrible person as a kid and this “failure” of mine in praying was just another thing I added to the list.
What I’ve come to understand is that those prayers, the very desperate, anger, imperfect ones, were heard and received and answered. And in the answers I received peace and love and a sense of acceptance.
God was teaching me to come to him no matter what. So today, there are times when I pray very specifically. At times, I’m even a little embarrassed at how specific I am. I have a result in mind (personal life, business, whatever) and I pray for that.
Of course, I also pray for God’s will to be done.
But sometimes, I find a disconnect between these two types of prayers. I pray for God’s will but I also have an ideal answer to the prayer in mind. So should I only pray for God’s will? That is the only true solution, right? Because God is the one who knows all, does all, IS all, and we as followers want His will to be done.
No argument there. God can give me things I can’t even think of myself.
So why bother praying for something specific?
Because God is so loving and has a genuine desire for a relationship with us that He indulges us. I mean, really, does the creator of the universe need my input on anything? Nope. But if you read through the Bible, he does listen to us. He does want to know what WE want.
I find sometimes that because of my past years of wanting to pray “the right way” I get tripped up by this freedom. If I pray only about God’s will, my prayers are (quite frankly) boring and sound insincere. Every day I ask him to help me be the person He wants me to be. And I mean this prayer. I want that. But if I continue praying for the things I think I “should” pray for my prayers are sometimes very hollow.
I feel that God helps me in prayer no matter how I come to Him. He teaches me to bring it all to Him without shame. If I really just want that friend to get over it or that extra $200 for that dental bill, I ask Him. Point blank. God, I would like this.
I am confident in taking my small and petty desires to God and am amazed, truly, when I get a “yes.” It thrills me. God actually found $200 for that bill? Wow! Thanks, God!
When I get a yes to something small, I feel like God is right here, next to me. I KNOW He is always here for me, but there are times when I feel Him closer. When He is in the small and petty parts of my life, I realize He cares about every aspect and every moment of my life.
I am not afraid to pray whatever is on my mind at any particular moment because while in that state of prayer God has taught me to listen. His holy spirit gives me a nudge, and I remember about that family member in pain, that person struggling, our world… and all the things that aren’t about me at all. God actually uses my own self-centered requests to turn things back to what is important, but He doesn’t do it by admonishing or making me feel bad. He does it in the kindest, most loving way. While he encourages me to be a better person, he also doesn’t make me feel bad about who I am right now or who I was 20 years ago. And this is important, because it allows me to be myself with Him without shame.