Before I put my faith in Christ, I was a church-goer. I prayed memorized prayers I learned at Sunday school, prayed over meals, prayed the Lord’s Prayer and for my family before bed occasionally, but that was about it. I treated prayer as recited words to send up to a distant God. They were very impersonal and had little heart in them.
In 2012, two friends encouraged me to pursue a relationship with Christ and start a prayer journal. They said if I told Him my regrets and mistakes, He would forgive me and if I sought a relationship with Him, He’d change my life.
I had grown up learning that Jesus died and rose from the dead to save sinners, but I never understood what this meant for me personally. So when I found out He wanted a relationship with me, that He would forgive and change me, it all clicked. By God’s grace, I repented, believed, and began seeking Jesus. I was saved! And just like the Bible and my friends promised, He changed everything.
I vividly remember sitting down to write in my prayer journal for the very first time and feeling super awkward. I wondered: How do I just talk to God? Could God really hear my prayers if I wrote them? If I didn’t fold my hands and cross myself? I still look back on my old journals occasionally and it’s sweet to put myself back into those old shoes and remember what it was like to start cultivating a relationship with Jesus through prayer. It was awkward, clumsy, and even cringey at times, but God saw my heart. He loves when we come to Him with a desire to love and know Him better, a desire to repent, grow, and be changed.
About a decade later, and I am still growing in my prayer life. It may not feel as drastic as the beginning, but I definitely go through seasons of feeling the growing pains. God continues to reveal where I still have a legalistic, religious, or ritualistic mindset around prayer and He is slowly, but constantly deepening a desire within me to simply meet and grow in intimacy with Him. Sometimes this means sitting down and journaling to Him, other times it means going on a walk and talking with Him out loud, praying through a list or simply as I think of someone during the day. I’m also continuing to learn the value in praying Scripture and how that develops intimacy and centers our minds on God before we come to Him with our requests.
Evaluate your own prayer life
My prayer life probably looks a lot different than yours – no two relationships with God look exactly alike! We are all at different places in our prayer lives, but what God wants with all of us is an intimate relationship, not a ritual.
Does your prayer life feel stale? Recited, robotic, or ritualistic? Maybe it’s time to step out of your comfort zone and start a prayer journal or praying out loud. Maybe now the Holy Spirit is prompting you to start exploring what praying the Bible looks like. Or perhaps, He’s simply calling you to deeper intimacy with Him, but you don’t know what that looks like yet.
Wherever you are at this point in your own prayer journey, start by praying. Don’t feel like praying? Start praying anyway. Ask God to give you a heart for prayer and if you genuinely desire this, He will absolutely bring about change. Just be patient, prayerful, and obedient. Sometimes it takes time for our feelings to catch up and that’s okay. God has lessons for us in the growing pains.
So, to close today’s post, I wanted you to ponder this question:
What is one thing I am going to start doing differently for the purpose of growing closer to God through prayer?