Embracing Spiritual Disciplines: Prayer

One of my children was learning to ride her bike. We had just gotten her to the point where she was independent and no longer needed us to run behind her. She headed up and down the driveway, so proud and excited. Joy filled my heart as I watched her accomplish something she had been frightened to do. Then, as if in slow motion, she veered to the side of the driveway where a short wall edged a parking space. As she headed towards it, I knew I couldn’t get there in time to save her from what was becoming inevitable.

Sure enough, she hit the short step and was thrown over the handlebars into the brush. A stick was pointed up and she landed on the end of it with her chest. I rushed over and picked her up. She was hurt and dirty, wounded and crying. I comforted her, wiped away her tears, cleaned her up and tended to her scraped knees and sore chest.

Sometimes we come to God in prayer like my daughter came to me in her pain and hurt. We take our wounded souls, soiled lives, and deepest hurts to the Father. He picks us up, brushes us off, mends our wounds and heals our hurts. He comforts us and we learn to lean on him because he is faithful.

Prayer is a spiritual discipline. We can practice prayer on a surface level, or we can practice it as if it can completely transform our lives. Transformation is available, but we must put aside some time to meet with God. God has already reached out to us, now we need to sit down with him and listen.

@@We can practice prayer on a surface level, or we can practice it as if it can completely transform our lives.@@

Prayer often gets lumped in with other spiritual disciplines. We study the Bible and pray. We go to prayer and worship services. I am coming to see that prayer needs its own time and effort, its own priority in my life.

Prayer is a journey: a journey from brokenness to wholeness, from sinfulness to holiness, from separateness to unity – one with God and each other.
— Joann Nesser, Prayer: Journey From Self To God

Starting to pray may seem like a daunting task if it hasn’t been practiced for years. The truth is, prayer requires nothing special. You don’t have to have a prayer journal, or a book on prayer. In fact, those things may become a distraction. Just start. God desires for you to come to him in simplicity and honesty, open and ready to listen.

Here is something to try this week to deepen your experience with prayer:

Choose a time when you don’t have to be watching the clock and find a solitary and quiet place. Choose a prayer from scripture. Read it one phrase at a time, taking time to meditate on the phrase and listening to what God might bring to your mind. I’d suggest jotting things down as you think about them, but be careful not to get sidetracked.

Suggested prayers in scripture:

  • Song of Aaron and Miriam: Exodus 15:1-18
  • Mary's Song of Praise: Luke 1:46-55
  • Lord’s Prayer: Matthew 6:9-13
  • David’s prayer of repentance: Psalm 51

Let me know what you learn!