A friend of mine asked me a great question today. I asked them if it would be alright if I answered in a blog. They said yes.
(If you didn't figure it out, that's what this blog is going to be about).
My favorite blogs to write are the ones where I sit at the computer screen and stare at the blinking cursor, as it taunts me to write and I don't know where to start. I don't really know what to say. A lot of times, for me at least, when I don't know what to say is when I can shut up and let God speak through me. My goal is to make that the case more often than it happens, but unfortunately sometimes my pride is convinced that I have something good to say on my own (which I am not sure if anyone has anything good to say without God).
(lengthy intro, I know).
My friend essentially asked me today, "what do you pray when you pray?".
I don't think I can think of another question more personal for someone to ask a Christian. (Though another friend jokingly asks, "What's your favorite sin?", though funnier, I don't think that is more personal). But in my blogs, I want to practice being transparent, so I don't give any inflated or false ideas of my walk with God. I don't want anyone to assume that I have anything figured out because of my blogs, I blog because this is how I process my thoughts and work out my faith. Not because I have any upper hands.
And that is why this is such a great question for anyone to ask themselves. Since I have been asked, it has forced me to work out my faith and figure out where it is and where I should be.
Because when you ask yourself this question, the bigger question comes up, "Well, what should I be praying? How selfish are my prayers? Do I constantly ask for my own will to be done?". Someone's private prayer life is so private that, I think, accountability doesn't come into play very often. I could have started some habits in my prayer life that need to change. Because how someone prays reflects how they view God.
So I started thinking of which prayers I've prayed that would make me look like a great Christian. Then I started thinking about "why isn't my prayer life like that?" I can make up a lot of prayers that would make my prayer life and relationship with God appear to be something to be coveted. Then I started coveting that false prayer life I created in my head, I started thinking "if I know those prayers are great, why don't I pray them?".
But I will try to keep this completely honest and obviously I can't put everything I've ever prayed. I'm going to explain the prayers that come up often (or recently):
"I miss you Lord" and/or "It's been a while". I think this is a good prayer to start this blog off with. My prayer life isn't as constant as it has been, my relationship with God hasn't been as close as it used to and this is something I've recently realized I have been trying to change with one day remedies like fasting or just reading a ton of Bible. But I have learned today, before I was asked this question, is that I need to get back into the habit of spending time with God. My motivation to hang out with people has been because I wanted people around, I think, to avoid loneliness. My other friend, in a song he wrote says, "Is it possible that loneliness is just a tomb, as symptom of our separation from You?". I think it's true, when I feel lonely and want people around or want a girlfriend it's a lot of times (but not always) because I feel a lacking of God and I try to fill that with people. So I know I have to just spend time with God, spend time alone. In a different song, there is a line this reminds me of, "they may have glimpsed the darkness inside but never faced it". I knew something was a bit off, but I never really faced it. Our walk with God is like drinking water, we shouldn't drink water only when we are thirsty, but just stay hydrated. I drink a huge glass of water before bed every night, I need to spend time with God every day, even if I don't feel any lacking in our relationship. I have realized that I only came to God when I was spiritually thirsty and I was always satisfied, but that was once every week or so. I need to stay hydrated.
"Thank you God for my life" I say this so much that I think I just say it to start off my prayers, I think sometimes I say it so much I don't even realize what I am saying. But I don't disagree with it, I just don't realize what I am saying sometimes. It's like my blinking cursor, it's me realizing I need to pray, but not knowing where to start, so I try to start thankfully. A lot of times God has forced me to realize where I am and what I am saying then I smile and say it again, truly thankful. I know God has given me a great life and I am truly thankful.
I used to pray: "Lord, give me wisdom" When I was a kid I heard the story of Solomon asking for wisdom and God making him the wisest in the world and also thinking of the verse, "if you pray for wisdom, your heavenly father will give it liberally"*. So when I was young and heard that, I started praying for wisdom and a lot of it. I believe false humility at this moment would rob God of the glory He deserves: I believe God gave me wisdom and I hope my words and actions are a testimony to that verse and my prayer. At the same time, don't let my foolishness that you may have seen in my life speak poorly of that verse and of God's promise. I don't consider myself wiser that anyone else, I don't think you can measure that sort of thing, but I know for a fact, that since I have prayed that prayer, I am wiser than I was. So let that be a testimony to God's promise fulfilled in my life because of just asking for it.
Now I pray: "Give me wisdom, but for every dose of wisdom you give me, give me two doses of humility" At one time in my life, I did think I had more wisdom than the other guy. I used the gift God gave me to hurt God with it. I do this a lot with the gifts He gives me. I think it's important to know that if God gives you a talent, you can use it against him. If you dad gives you a gun for hunting, you may have the gun, but it's important to keep asking your father how to use it properly the way he intended.
"Teach me a way to use humor to compliment people, not just insult" I am mentioning this prayer to give an example of a gift God gave me I used against Him. I honestly believe there are loving insults, in a certain crowd, mostly in the North, insulting is an accepted way of showing someone you like them and it's received that way also. But people know when it's malicious or loving. I have used it maliciously in the past for sure. I would love to find a way to humorously compliment people, I have sometimes, but it's not as easy as a sarcastic insult.
"Give me a love for people and an opportunity to give it to them" When God gives us love, we had several things we can do with it. We can keep it to ourselves (which, unfortunately, I do a lot) give it back to Him or give it to others (which is in a way giving it back to him). I see it like this, if a father has two sons that he has to feed and gives a loaf of bread to one son and that son turns around to give it to his brother, than the second son will be fed by the father through the first son. (sorry if that is confusing). So when God gives us love and we give it to others, we are loving God in the process of loving people and we should remind ourselves and those people of the source of that love. (I hope this is making sense). Now if that father gives his son a loaf of bread and the son does nothing with it but asks for more bread, the father would say, "use the bread I gave you first". I think God gives us love for us to give to Him or people. Sometimes when you see a hopeless situation and your heart breaks for a friend or stranger, that is God giving you a bunch of love to give to them. If that father gives his son a bag of loafs of bread, the son should then ask "what is all this for" and the father would say, "I gave all the loafs you need to bring to the neighbors house and feed their family with". Matthew 25:29: "For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him." (read the whole parable that verse comes from).
"God, teach me to love you" This has been a recent prayer of mine. To use the bread analogy: it's because I have been in the habit of giving the bread to my brother so much that I forgot to remind myself and my brother where it came from. I say with shame, I forgot where it came from. People think of the Bible as a bunch of rules, but in the whole Bible, Jesus says that Loving God is the greatest command. God's greatest command is to just love Him. That is huge. I have been praying and asking around how do we love God, loving people is one way to do this, but it's possible to love or just have the symptoms of love towards someone else with having selfish reasons behind it. To quote mewithoutYou: "talking about the second and third when we haven't understood the first". I need to focus on loving God first and when I learn to love Him, loving people will come naturally. I just need to remember where all that bread comes from because if I just start giving it out without knowing the source, I won't know where to go to get more bread.
"Your will be done" I pray this a lot because I usually am praying about girl relationships (and the lack thereof) and I need to remember that even if a girl seems perfect for me, God knows if she really is and I trust Him.
I have a bunch more, but Americans don't read blogs when they see that it looks too long (I don't even wanna proof-read this it's so long). So maybe there will be a part two? God willing.
*James 1: 5-6 (paraphrased) For Jesus' advice on prayer read Matthew 6:5-14