Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Stuck in Prayer?

Don't know what to say to God?  Do you think about praying, but have no idea what to say? 

Well, you don't really have to SAY anything.  The main idea is just to be conscious of being in God's Presence. 

But a moment's thought will supply enough material for a very long prayer!

There's always the Lord's Prayer, for starters.  You can't go wrong with what Jesus Himself taught us to pray. 

There's always the prayer of the angels:  Holy, holy, holy!  Lord God of hosts, heaven and earth are filled with Your glory.  Hosannah in the highest!

There's always, "Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and forever, to all the ages."

There's always the Jesus Prayer, "Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy upon me, the sinner."  But this very powerful prayer, even more perhaps than the others, needs to be guided by a spiritual father or mother, and not attempted on our own.

And there are Orthodox prayer books chalk full of the most wonderful prayers, both for regular use and for special occasions or needs.

In a Protestant Sunday School, I learned the acronym ACTS, which stands for what you do in prayer.

A was for "adoration".  We acknowledge God's greatness, His glory, His love, and that He is our Creator and Redeemer, our very Life, our God, worthy of all worship.

C was for "confession".  We look back over our day (or week or life!) and scrutinize it carefully for any sign of anything that tends to come between God and us, and then we ask His help to overcome those barriers and free ourselves for fuller union with Him.  And it's quite shocking, how many such things we discover if we are very honest with ourselves.  How many times did I judge my brother or sister?  How many times did I think harsh or unkind or just negative thoughts?  How many of my words were abrupt or contemptuous?  We ask God to forgive us, and to help us forgive others, since forgiveness will be of no effect for us until we can give it, as well as receive it.

T was for "thanksgiving."  We count our blessings and give thanks for each one we can think of, and that alone will be enough to fill our whole life with prayer.  (And let us not forget, when thanking God for our families, to pray He will make us worthier spouses, parents, children, sisters or brothers, etc.)

And "S" was for supplication, asking God for the things we need, such as our daily bread.  Under this title, though, can also come intercession.  We can just look around us at how many families have members in grave illness, or whose loved ones have recently died, or people who have asked us for our prayer for whatever reason.  We can pray for all the readers of our blogs (by name, when we know these).  We pray for all our families and friends, for those who have set themselves against us, for the jobless, the homeless, the hungry, the widows and orphans, our spiritual fathers or mothers, past and present and even future, for the departed, for the Church, for those who have left the Church and those about to enter her, for peace in the world... the list is literally endless.

No, there's no lack of stuff to say in prayer!  There's no problem getting the words started; it's getting them to stop.  Because when everything has been spoken and all the words have run out and there's only stillness left at the verbal level, that (generally) is when deeper, unspeakable prayer begins.


GretchenJoanna said...

Thanks very much! So practical and helpful, and even brief. :-)

Mimi said...

I agree, greatly appreciated, thank you!

Teci Pulido said...

Amen! :) Indeed, we can't go wrong with Jesus' own words of prayer, and it is in the stillness that we find a deeper communion with God. God bless and use you more dear sister! :)