A Seaman's Quest

One man's search for truth

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A Fresh Approach to Prayer

God is already at work

If you are reading about how to pray, then somehow God is truly alive in your life. A clear sign of God’s presence is a desire for God. The desire to seek God ultimately comes from him.

If you want to pray, you are already praying. The desire to pray is the evidence that God is already at work, at prayer, in you. Most of us pray far more than we think we do. Anytime we reflect on our families, our children, our students, our job, something we are grateful for, that is prayer.

Many of us think prayer is thinking about and talking to God out there. But prayer begins with reality. The first reality we have is ourselves and that’s where prayer begins.

We can only be close to others as we become more in touch with what is happening in our spirit.

God is speaking

God speaks to us in our deepest human experiences, feelings, desires, thoughts, or ideas. So to be aware of these experiences is to become aware of God’s work in them and then to offer ourselves through them to God.

We focus on our own experience to hear God’s word in them. Then we are called to respond. What is God saying to us through this? We don’t need to solve problems, worry, plan, or control. We recognize that God is speaking through our thoughts, our feelings, our children, our students, our fellow workers. Listen carefully.

Intimacy then is not primarily a sharing with another. Intimacy starts with being intimate with myself. Intimacy is knowing the core of things myself. Then what I do flows from where I’ve been. But intimacy begins with getting in contact with myself.

I have to be in contact with myself before I can donate, give myself or share. It is important to get in touch with my deepest human experiences because that is where God is most present to me. Where we are most present, God is most present.

For example, let’s suppose the one I love the most has a dislocated shoulder. Where is that person most present? Of course, in his/her shoulder, where the injury is. The pain is intense. When I think of that person, what do I think of? I wonder “How is the pain?” Wherever we are most present, God is most present. That is the importance of listening to where we are.

Hearing from God

Prayer is quieting our mind and heart to hear God speak. We discover what we already have, and begin to experience it. Self-awareness leads us to become more alive.

The very distractions we experience while praying can be God making us aware of things in our mind that we should make the content of prayer. These stray thoughts are an invitation and reminder to let God into that area of our thought life. They should be welcomed not ignored. Our goal is not to solve problems, figure it out, or analyze the situation.

It is simply to hear God’s word concerning this person or situation. This is the very situation that I should be thinking, reflecting, and praying about in the presence of the Lord. Most of the distractions we get are not really distractions. Prayer starts by becoming sensitive to what is happening within, being aware of my mood and my emotions.

My spiritual state is what drives how I interact with others and how willing I am to learn. It defines my thoughts and behavior. Prayer is how I become aware of what is actually going on deep within me.

Aware of feelings

Our moods vary frequently and can have a profound impact on how we relate to others and how we see life. Becoming aware of our current feelings helps us to be more sensitive in what we say and less in what we hear.

It is useful to begin a prayer time by asking these questions

God speaks to us through the events of our life. A starting point for prayer is simply to recognize the thoughts that are on our minds: concerns, problems, people, or things we are thankful for.

To find the presence of God start with your own thoughts. That’s were God is most present in your life. Your joys and sorrows are a indicator of where to connect with God’s Spirit. Prayer should be practical and embrace our current reality.

God is here now. Where do you find him at work? What brings life and what brings pain? How is God at work in those areas? Talk to him and let him talk back. His presence is close. Can you sense it?

Just as I am

God loves me the way that I am right now. Nothing that I do causes him to love me less or more. He is actively working to bring me closer to him and to mold me into the character of Jesus. But he accepts me just as I am.

God knows every single detail of my life. He understands my hopes and fears, frustrations and joys. He also knows the sin that so easily entraps me. He is working to free me up, but that is not a condition for his love. Christ died for me while I was in my most sinful state ever. He continues to love me even as I struggle to find freedom.

Prayer starts with a choice to accept God’s love. We reach out to a loving Father and let him lavish his love on us. Welcoming his tangible presence and thanking him for his grace is how true prayer begins. We have a heart-posture of gratitude.

Praying in Everyday Life

Relationships with people can put us in direct contact with God. Concrete situations in the events in our life, our families, our work, or a chance remark by a friend may actually be God speaking to us. Our thoughts and feelings often reveal something about his work in our lives at the moment. But we often ignore the things when it comes to prayer.

Prayer becomes a rich experience when we become sensitive to the voice of the Spirit who is whispering and prompting us constantly. Become still and sensitive to what God is saying through your relationships, events, and feelings in your life.

Prayer can be a time of quiet reflection, deepening, enhancing of our mood, through the gentle presence of the Lord. Allow your mind to be guided by God to think about your life over the past week.

When have you felt God’s presence most and least? What conversations do you regret the most? Who needs your forgiveness? What situation do you wish you had handled differently? What is your greatest fear?

We find God when we open our hearts fully in an honest and complete connection. Yet, sadly, we often hide from this kind of interchange with our loving Father. It is time to change that.

Praying the Scripture

Go to a quiet place and invite God to make you ready to receive something special from the Spirit. Select a passage that is known to be useful as a prayer prompt that is between 1-10 verses. For ideas of scriptures go to http ://Spiritual-Things.org.

Read the scripture slowly aloud and think about what it truly means to you in think moment. While reading be sensitive to the still small voice of the Spirit who might highlight some word or phrase. Pay attention especially to your emotional response while reading.

Pause and savor the insight, feeling, or understanding. Then go back and read the passage again because it will have a fuller meaning. Pause again and note what happened.

This is a starting point for a deep conversation with God in response to his presence at this moment. Picture Jesus sitting with you ready to listen and speak with you. What do you want to tell him? What do you most want to hear from him? Follow the prompting of your heart. What you do next is a divine moment of special significance. This kind of reflective listening allows the Holy Spirit to deepen awareness of God taking the initiative to speak with us.