A dear friend recently told me, that she finds ist hard to sit and pray. And asked me: “How do you pray?”
I told her that I usually do not sit when I pray. I generally do not like to sit – I built myself a standing desk and a walking desk (a treadmill with a laptop stand) because sitting for a long time is not good for your body. The body is not made for sitting long term – not even in prayer.
Most religious traditions honor that. So body posture for prayer includes
- lying (I like that)
- standing – often with hands lifted up
I like talking to God when I walk – it comes very natural to me.
Labyrinths as Prayer tools
As I do not have the time to go to a park every morning two artistic friends, Elizabeth and Scott, created a labyrinth on the roof of my ship for me. Especially in the middle ages Labyrinths were popular as a framework to hold your steps and your mind while you prayed. Some of them – for example the one in the Chartres Cathedral are really big – and it takes about one hour to reach the center. I have a pinterest collection of Labyrinths.
My labyrinth is a bit smaller – but what I love about it is that it holds me and my steps, leads me to the center – marked by a heart and then from there back “to the world”. I can do a quick run through the labyrinth in a few minutes or take my time and very slowly walk and pray.
What I love about it is that et every turn the scenery changes. I see water on one side, factories on the other,. In some positions the sun shines in my face, in others she warms my back (providing she is there -after all i live in Germany). This change of scenery often inspires my prayers. So one time as I was praying about a woman who intensely requested something from me I did not want to give, I saw a buoy – it reminded me of my right and obligation to set healthy boundaries.
So – how do I pray
As mentioned I love to chat. But at times I do enjoy a more structured approach. This is how I pray then.
- Connection: Our father in Heaven
All prayer is a means for connection. So I remind myself that I am a daughter of a good heavenly father. IF the sun is out I give myself some moments or minutes to simply feel the sunshine on my face as a touch of his love. I also take time to think about his attributes and reflect and comment on them and express how they affect and touch me.
- Thankfulness: Hallowed be your name
I take time to express my thankfulness. When my brain is still tired in the morning often the same things come to mind: Security (no war), Health, provision. To be a bit more diverse it helps me to think about thankfulness in different categories: What am I thankful for in my Job, in my friendships, in my last experiences?
Forgiveness has so many shades and aspects that I wrote a whole training manual about it: Learning to forgive. n(also available as ebook) In my mornings I often ask the Lord to show me if there is someone I need to forgive. Sometimes it is someone else, but very often that someone is myself. To make forgiveness more tangible I imagine myself standing in front of the person looking that person (or myself) in the eye and say: “I forgive you!” As usually there is some accusation and anger involved (who is without sin) I also imagine asking for forgiveness from them and father God. And also receiving His forgiveness as a gift. I love it that the word give is included in the word forgiveness.
- Long-Term Perspective: Your kingdom come!
This part can include prayers for the world, political and social situation, but very often I focus on how I would like to be available for God to be used to bring his kingdom. I think and communicate about the person he would like me to become in the long run to advance his blessing on the earth. Here I also find it helpful not to take the whole package, but think about different aspects each day: My character. my relationships, my business. I try to catch a glimpse of the picture of what he wants me to become in these areas and pray into it.
- Short-term Perspective: Your kingdom come…today!
Here I break the big picture into what it means for today. I run through the schedule of my day and think of the best, most god-honoring and life-filled way to go through this particular day. In my mind I imagine myself working with focus, envision myself meeting people in real life or on the phone with attention etc.
- Asking for help and reminding myself of his strength: Give us this day our daily bread … lead us not into temptation… deliver us… yours is the kingdom and the Glory…
Feeling and expressing my need for help and company. He is so good. And he is with my.
As you have probably noted much of my prayer practice follows the Lord prayer.
I personally like to put in then thankfulness right at the beginning and the forgiveness earlier in the prayer – then the “ugly stuff” is dealt with. But following it in the way Jesus taught it of course is the original.