I have a confession to make. Growing up, I always found prayer painfully boring. Please don’t stone me. Just keeping it real.
In fact, I think part of the reason lust can pester us so much during prayer is because we’re bored. I can see the religious elite right now, “How dare you say prayer is boring! You’re talking to the Maker of the Universe.” Exactly, so in theory, I should be excited. I should be thrilled.
Prayer should be one of the most exciting and fulfilling things in my life, so why is it that lust can overpower it?
Have you ever watched an awards ceremony where the host dragged on, and on, and on… You yourself might be getting the award! It is the happiest moment of your life, but there is a point where your eyes glaze over and you forget to remember to breathe, and a little bit of drool starts forming at the corner of your mouth.
It doesn’t matter how exciting the prospect of something is. If the process is wrong, it loses its joy.
I want to challenge something today. I want to challenge the prepackaged prayer-in-a-box many of us have been raised with- just bow your heads, close your eyes, and add an amen! I want you to think outside that box with me because the box, my friends, is just boring.
Let’s start here: What is prayer?
Let me tell you what it is not. Prayer is not some brainless exercise in religious piety. Prayer is supposed to be a two-way (yes, two) dialogue you have with the Lover of Your Soul. It is not another item to mark off your spiritual checklist. It is communication- a natural part of any relationship.
Based on that, here are my tips for lust-free (also read: not boring) prayer.
Get Rid of the Posture
I don’t know about you, but I don’t make it a habit of silently talking with my friends with my eyes closed and my head bowed. I call that sleeping.
Now, there are many times I do bow when I am praying. There are also many times I don’t, and I rarely ever pray silently.
If the whole eyes-closed, head-bowed thing isn’t working for you, change it up. I am fully convinced that God is more concerned about the posture of our heart than He is the posture of our bodies. Some of my sweetest prayer time ever has been while driving.
If you feel you need to bow but are worried that you might doze off or zone out, some things I have found helpful are to pray out loud or to rock back and forth.
Go for a prayer walk- walk and pray at the same time.
Pray out loud (either alone or with a friend).
Quiet Your Heart
Some of us need to calm down when it comes to prayer. We can rush through our lives like the white rabbit from Alice and Wonderland, freaking out, checking our clocks, running up to God saying, “No time to say hello, goodbye! I’m late!”
Our to-do lists weigh heavy. We have a list of 101 other things that need to be done right now or we come to Him already beating ourselves over the head. Prayer is just another thing to check off, just a little speed bump that we turn into a ramp.
Have you ever tried to have a conversation with someone who is hyped up? You don’t talk. You sit there for an hour while they ramble on and on, and on. Smile and nod. Then, at the end, they say, “Thanks for talking” and they leave you sitting there. Don’t do that with God. Breathe. Calm down.
Listen to a couple praise and worship songs or hymns before you pray.
Write down your to-do list before you start to pray, that way you’re not trying to remember.
(I write mine down the night before.)
Diffuse your triggers
I’m getting ready to post an entire series about triggers and how to identify yours and how to avoid them, but I feel emotional triggers trip many of us up when it comes to prayer.
We feel discontent, bitter, angry, unloved, lonely, etc and that feeling just burdens us so much. It is almost crippling. It seems to hold us hostage. We come to God with an overwhelmed heart and just recite some nursery rhyme prayer and walk away still feeling overwhelmed.
What should you do? You talk it out- with God and with the people involved (if necessary). This is, after all, a conversation. In any normal conversation with a friend, I would hope you would share what is on your heart first.
Unpack your heart first. Get the elephant out of the prayer closet.
Leave your gift at the altar if you have to. (Matt 5:24)
This is going a little longer than I planned (what’s new, right?) so I’ll finish it off on Monday with a couple more tips as well as some ideas for you. What do you think so far? Do you have any tips that you practice in prayer?