Ian’s Thoughts on Prayer

Have you ever wondered why it’s said that when you talk to yourself it’s a sign of madness, but then again, when you pray to something unseen its normal practice?  After all, are you getting immediate vocal answers from either recipient of your speech?  Here’s a thought, may be you are!  My thoughts below are not intended to be a lesson on what prayer is, on how to pray or what to pray for. I haven’t done any research or read up on the subject, asked any questions or interviewed anyone and nor do I pretend to be an expert.  They are merely my own thoughts on a subject that I seem to do a rather lot of!

When I look at the dedication, learning and training by practitioners of other healing disciplines I admire their steadfast devotion to the development and understanding of their talents.  I think of the time spent in utilising their gifts and think how glad I am that when I pray for healing I just have to talk.  Can it really be that easy?  Well here’s what I think after I decided to look a little bit deeper into the subject.

First of all I asked myself, “What is prayer?” and came up with an answer quite profound that made me take stock of the way that I pray.  Prayer is a two way conversation with God.  How often do I actually listen as well as talk?  Stop and think and ask yourself the same question, how often do you listen for a reply?  I was quite shaken by how little I did actually listen and then more so again when I thought about what I asked for.  “Me, me, me, some one else and then me,” again.  What sort of conversation is that to have with the most powerful, Supreme Being in existence?  Maybe we could use mediation to help us to listen?  What are we listening for?  I believe that it’s more important just to be quiet for a change when talking to God and let Him get a word in edgeways and that it’ll be in a different way for all of us.  As an aside, I ought to be saying talking with God and not talking to God, don’t you think?

When should we talk with God?  My personal opinion on answering this question is that it is never enough and that the more the better.  Although most often I seem to talk with God whenever I want or need something, I feel that maybe a bit of time put aside each day in addition to anything else might not be a bad practice to get into.  I would suggest at the start of each day before the stresses and hustle of everyday life invades your environment and probably not at the end of the day when you become too tired to concentrate.

How do we pray?  Again, this will be different for everyone.  For some the use of meditation will be adequate.  For myself I talk, sometimes out loud, other times in the quiet of my soul.  One thing which I do believe helps me to keep perspective is the format in which I pray and that was inspired when I looked to see how Christ prayed by looking a little but more closely by the most famous prayer of all.

“Our Father, who is in heaven, Hallowed be your name, Your Kingdom come, Your Will be done on earth as it is in heaven, Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our sins, As we forgive those who sin against us, And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil, For Yours is the Kingdom, The Power and the Glory, Amen.”

The start of Jesus’ prayer was focussed up on God – how great You are!  Then Jesus goes on to remind himself that he should be more interested in what God wants to happen and not his own plans but also can’t resist asking for a little help to see that this is happening.  Next Jesus asks for forgiveness and is saying sorry but also asks for help to forgive each other.  To my mind, the next part of the Lord’s Prayer is asking for help in leading our lives how God would want but also asking for help if in trouble and then ending the prayer by praising and magnifying God again.  Put simply there are four directions – up, out, in and up again.  Up, we praise God helping us to become focussed in our prayer.  Out, we pray for others before ourselves.  In, now we ask for assistance with our own problems.  Up, praising God again.  This may seem unnecessary to some and somewhat over involved and in some circumstances I would certainly agree.  But with all other disciplines isn’t there practice, protocols and routine?  We prepare ourselves for important conversations with others so why should we give God any less respect than that for each other?

Occasionally when praying I find myself using the gift of speaking in tongues.  Does this make my prayer any more significant or give me a direct channel to God?  I don’t believe so.  I feel that any communication with God meant from the heart spoken in English or any other modern day language is just as important.  I can recall one such occasion when I spent ten minutes praising God in fluent French.  It was such a shame that my school teacher wasn’t there to witness the miracle!

Prayer for me is more than just a tool or a gift.  It is a way of life.  Of course it isn’t easy to find the time to spend 15 or 30 minutes closeted away in a room at the office away from distractions but that doesn’t mean that we can’t spend a few minutes or even seconds regularly communicating with God.  The idea as I see it is not to spend an hour a week “catching up” with God but to talk to Him all the time.  Besides if others see you talking to God at least you can say that you’re not going mad, it isn’t yourself that you’re talking too!