Ways to Pray—the Individual Way (Focus Friday!)

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – January 8, 2015

there's only one you Psa 139

Ways to Pray—the Individual Way

Prayer. Communication. Talking. Praise. Conversation. Contemplation. Confession. Being with. Walking alongside. Adoration. Petition. Silence. Ecstatic utterance. Practicing the presence.

All these ways are ways of prayer, of coming before God. But—which way is the best way? The preferred way? The sure and true way to come into God’s presence?

Prayer can be as natural and effortless as a child nestling in her Heavenly Parent’s lap. Certainly! And, God wants to be accessible at all times. But what about those who are puzzled, who don’t know where to start with this thing called prayer?

Each one of us is unique, and God communicates with each of us in an equally unique way. According to a book called Prayer and Temperament, which uses the personality preferences of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, if individuals deal with the outside world and their inner selves in a certain, specific way, different types of prayer might appeal to them.

This all came from something that Rev. Howell suggested in his trusty prayer guide, The Beautiful Work of Learning to Pray, chapter 9. After some people get into the swing of prayer, we need to strive for more. Strive for maturity. I suggest going with what is challenging, even difficult. Not just with what is easy. Not just with what comes naturally. Even though that is great, too! But stretching, going into what is less familiar, more strange and different. In prayer.

I will use my own experience as an example. Some years ago, I was very hesitant to practice contemplative, or wordless, prayer. I am very word-centered. (I love words, and language, and the spoken word! I relish all sorts of prayer where I make use of the Bible and the written word.) However, I shy away from wordless prayer. Contemplation. Even when I can use one, single word, it is still a challenge for me. However—I realize that God may wish to stretch me, to cause me to grow beyond my comfort zone.

So, from time to time, I do practice contemplative prayer. And—I promise I will use this means of prayer for one month in 2015. But—later. Not yet.

Getting back to differing ways of praying, there are as many ways of praying as there are different types of people. As the authors of Prayer and Temperament say in their Introduction, “if [these suggestions] work for you and help deepen your prayer life and your relationship with God, then make use of them. . . . Think of them as ‘tools’ that are meant to assist your efforts to make contact with God, to maintain this relationship, and to deepen it through your prayer.”[1]

God willing, help us as we pray.

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my sister blog, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.

[1] Chester P. Michael, Marie C. Norrisey, Prayer and Temperament; The Open Door (Charlottesville VA), 1991.

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