As I reflect on my own life of prayer, I realize that there is really no set formula for how to pray. You can certainly find all sorts of methods, definitions, and written prayers. But if you think of prayer as a relationship, just as there are many different kinds of relationships, there are many different kinds of prayers.
For me, different kinds of prayers have suited me at various points in my life. I love to sit outside and just marvel at nature—God’s creation. Sometimes I feel such awe and gratitude that tears well up in my eyes. Other times, I find myself simply talking to God while in the midst of my everyday activities. During difficult times in my life, prayer was a struggle and at those times I relied on the words written by others to be my prayer. The Psalms always help because whatever my mood, I can find a psalm to match it.
My favorite definition of prayer is simply lifting the mind and heart to God. This can be done in quiet or during the busiest activity. I think that this one way to pray always, as is mentioned in 1 Thessalonians 5:17. One thing that I am certain of, however, is that prayer is not like a vending machine. We don’t “put our prayers in,” expecting to get the results we want. God’s ways are beyond our understanding, and when we don’t get what we’ve asked for our faith tells us that God has something better in mind. This has been so difficult sometimes when I have been praying for a certain outcome. But even though God may not grant us the answer that we are looking for, we can continue asking for what we need. Much like a child who constantly asks their parent, we should never be afraid to ask God for what we think we need. Of course the end result will be what God wills—and through the grace that we receive in prayer, we will come to be at peace with that.
The truth is that prayer changes us, I saw that for sure in my mom. Through prayer she became a gentle, peace-filled woman. She was able to face many problems and illnesses in her life because of her faith and trust in God. That is one of the most important things that she taught me through her example. I am most grateful to God for giving me such a beautiful mother. I know that she is happy with God now, and I pray that someday we may be reunited.
Andrea Woronick has a personal blog, “Meandering thru life,” which you can find here: https://meanderingthrulife.com/.