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- Christianity, the Bible & Jesus
Praying shouldn't be hard.
Why is praying so hard?
There are some people who can say the most eloquent, flowery prayers that seem to express everything the situation needs. Some people feel that if they pray long enough or say the same thing enough times then God will know what they are praying for. Others will pray simply to hear themselves talk about how wonderful their life is or how they wish others were as important as they are. Prayer can be used as one of the greatest connections between two people. Praying for a family as they are in a hospital or losing a loved one can help make the situation more bearable. If prayer can truly do so much good, then why is it so difficult to find the right words when we want to express our feelings to God? There are others who stumble and stutter fearing they will say something wrong and offend God with their poor praying ability. Also, praying, especially in public, is one of the most fear producing events for some people.
Why is praying so scary or difficult? Praying is the connection we have with our supreme being, our Creator, and it should be done often and without fear of doing something wrong. Prayer is meant to be the exchange between the creator and the creation, so that we can communicate how we are doing and God can listen to us. Prayer is a great way to increase our relationship with a loving God, a God that does not rate our prayer, but simply enjoys the time we spend together.
Even the Disciples struggled.
If praying for people scares you, do not be ashamed, even the disciples of Jesus had a problem with prayer. In the Gospel of Luke we find the disciples asking Jesus how they should pray, and he responds with the following:
“When you pray, say: Father, hollowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us. And do not bring us to the time of trial.” (New Interpreters’ Study Bible).
This prayer, while most of Christianity calls it the Lord’s Prayer, should be called the Disciple’s prayer or the “I don’t know what to say” prayer. This prayer is so perfect in what it says and how simply it says it. It shows clearly that a prayer does not have to be long and flowery to get the point or need across to God. We can always lean heavily on this prayer for the times when we cannot figure out what we should say. Jesus left his disciples well equipped with anything they needed in this one simple prayer. However, if this does not fit the situation, then we can follow the same advice a little boy received.
The ABC Prayer
I do not know if this is even a true story, but it helps people understand the power that God plays in prayer. A little boy asked his minster how he is supposed to pray because the boy didn’t know all the fancy words the minister typically used during his prayers. The minister smiled and told the boy, “Just say the ABC’s and God will put the letters into the right words.” This is another way to look at prayer, that God will finish, or even start, the prayer that we need to say the most. If we don’t know the right words to say or can’t even use words because we are so emotional, then our prayers should reflect how we are feeling. A good prayer is when we allow our needs to be lifted up to God’s loving grace with the faith that we will be heard.
The Jesus Prayer
There is another option for people who cannot understand how to pray as the bible says “without ceasing”. There is a simple prayer called The Jesus Prayer and it is ideal for meditation and relaxation. All someone has to do is say, “Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.” The purpose of this prayer is to be repeated over and over, with each intake of breath say the first part and then as the breath is released say the second part. This prayer was set to help people understand that a good prayer can be very simple. Jesus Christ came to save sinners, and to admit that we are in need his mercy over and over will put us into the right mind set of praying without ceasing. To take a quote from St. Francis of Assisi (he actually said preach the gospel where I say prayer, but they both work), “Pray at all times and when necessary use words.” Sometimes the greatest prayer we can offer to the Lord is to take time and just be silent, both in our bodies and our minds. A silent prayer that we just offer our emotions, our feelings, who we are without words or explanations, can be the perfect prayer. We get ourselves out of the way and just let our feelings offer the prayer for us. God will understand what we need to say, and truly, if we offer our needs with the faith that God’s loving mercy will hear, we have offered the perfect prayer.
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