From when I was young, I knew praying was the same as communicating with God.
It is something personal to me. And yet, it tends to get repetitive, redundant and somehow meaningless to some. I don’t mind doing it with other people. But there are those who’d prefer to pray on their own. How about you? How do you pray?
Is it enough to just memorize a prayer? Is it enough that you know how to pray the rosary? With the ability to recite everything including the saints responded to with “Pray For Us”? Why is it encouraged daily? And why would certain religions require it to be recited at a specific time of the day? Does it constitute the how of the praying?
My daughter attends Sunday School. Parents are welcome to stay when they have their lesson. Being on my 33rd week of pregnancy, with the Summer here for us to enjoy, I stayed in their air-conditioned room and listened. The last lesson they have had was HOW TO PRAY. Though what I’m going to share comes from a Catholic point-of-view, I do respect other religions and I just would wanted to share how enlightening last Sunday had become.
My 4-year-old daughter curiously paid attention to their Sunday School teacher because I noticed how the topic got her fired up. She, for one, has a lot of questions for me every time it’s prayer time. The ‘how’ of a prayer was never discussed and so, instantly, she found the lesson that Sunday very interesting.
The discussion pulled me too as I became curious myself on how the teacher would explain such a deep topic. You see, my daughter and I had many moments discussing why we have to pray. At the time, I know she almost want to retire for the day, I always alert her to pray before going to sleep. My family do this sitting on the bed, holding each other’s hands with eyes closed. Because of Mommy and Daddy’s participation, at first, she would always get up no matter what to pray.
Recently, as she grows up, she tends to be full of questions. I’m sure you’ve heard this from lots and lots of moms how they could be unstoppable with the “WHY?” series of questions. One night, while I noticed she’s yawning a lot and that she’s ready to sleep, I reminded her that she hasn’t prayed yet.
She somehow was lazy to get up and I had to persuade her. She asked while still lying down, “Why do we need to pray?”. “Because it’s our way of thanking God for the whole day’s blessings and to ask Him not to get tired of blessing us for the next day,” I encouraged. One time, she tried to understand and responded, “OK!”
The next day day happened the same way. This time, I told her, we pray so that we could communicate to God what we want to happen, or what we want to have. I had let her know that whatever we desire completely and absolutely, we should be able to communicate with Him about it. And so praying is a way to do that. “Like I wish what I want for Christmas tonight, and it will be given?” she asked. Mommy in me had to smart and said, “If you’re a good girl, then there’s a big chance.”
Somehow, from then on, she didn’t ask again.
Until this Sunday, being taught of the “HOW”….
So the teacher started the lecture with the acronym PRAY.
P – PRAISE
As how kids always try to put effort in making their parents feel special when they had to ask for something (e.g. going to the dance, asking for extra dollars on top of allowance money or just to go on a sleepover), PRAISING God seems to be of the same way. We show how we give Him honor by expressing how we are of service of His will because of his all-knowing capabilities. We declare that it is only Him that we praise and worship because of His greatness and that believing in Him is enough to wipe away all of your sins.
It’s also almost the same as giving honor to His name. This is achieved through actions most of the time. When you sing about God, you glorify His name and so, that could be a form of praise. Little things that you offer to God such as a simple healing of a wound, passing the exams and doing good deeds are what compose giving praise to God.
R – REPENT
God had given us the free will to do what we want. And this often times tend to make us go astray. Being imperfect as we are, we tend to mess up and when we realize we had offended God, asking for His mercy to be forgiven becomes a way of prayer.
Guilt is something that will never put us to sleep. And sometimes, when we admit that we had done something wrong, even just to ourselves with a silent prayer, as long as you mean it and is backed up with sincere behavioral change, He is more than willing to take us back. He may bless our journey more knowing that we had gone through that dark path and we heeded his grace to return back.
A – ASK
God surely knows the purest desires of our hearts before we even say it. But, as our Father in heaven, He has to hear it from us. With our real parents, we also had to ask for them to gauge whether what we are longing to have is good for us or not. God feels the same. He would want you to be courageous enough to ask what you want. This way, He would know how to give it to you or how to tell you “No.” in case, it’s not going to do you any good in the long run.
By doing such declaration, He may gauge how you badly you want it too. If you are willing to sacrifice for that thing you long for, or for the thing that you want. And usually, when it’s to be granted, it doesn’t come easy. God wants to know if you would call on Him even after once you are granted of your wish.
I believe I have asked a lot from God and for how many times, He is the only one who can keep count. In addition, I am He knows how I ask. Like the pattern of my prayer when I ask something from Him always comes with a bargain. It almost sounded like, I would dedicate my free time helping people who don’t have money if you’re going to let me pass my Nursing Licensure Exams. Somehow, it made me have a deeper understanding that when you ask for something, you should understand its purpose.
I used to dictate on God and I never got what I want. (Not the Nursing Licensure Exam, I got that on a first try but I’m doing a different thing.) But I noticed that with the real things I long for, He would never grant it to me easily. I always need to put a lot of effort into it but the process made me learn something which leads us to the last form of praying.
Y – YIELD
Yielding is giving God all the power to direct things in your life. When we pray to Him, and acknowledge His presence, His blessings and His hold on our life, it’s yielding towards God and like anybody else, being needed is such a great feeling. God loves it when we put effort in talking to Him. He is all powerful and as a Creator of all things, it is pretty humbling that He always appreciates any form of communication with him.
When we allow Him to take over, trust that you will be delivered from temptation. When no matter how I pray for what I wanted was not granted, I ended up surrendering to His will. I have learned how to accept that what I wanted to happen to my life is not favoring any of God’s wills, therefore, it doesn’t serve any purpose.
A PRAYER TO SHARE
Following up on how the Sunday School Teacher had taught my daughter on how to pray was challenging at first. She was used to reciting a prayer and diligently following the schedule (which is before eating and sleeping) but to apply these forms of prayer, it needs digging deep into the day which later on, she got accustomed to.
I also aided it with this video which you may find helpful in a way. Check this out.
I have reached a point in my life where my prayer is often wrapped up this way:
“Lord God, make me a tool for Your grace to flow,
for Your will to happen and for Your purpose to flourish.
I am nothing but a servant. I owe my life to You.
While I thank You for all the blessings You have given me, I may always ask selfish wishes.
But I acknowledge Your plans in my life and may Thy will be done.”
How about you? Please don’t hesitate to share the power of your prayer.