So many of us spend more time feeling guilty about not praying than we actually spend praying. What if, every time we thought about God or prayer, instead of feeling guilty about not doing it more, we just prayed?
Virtually all personal correspondence begins with an apology for not writing sooner. When you receive a letter or an e-mail, do you want to dwell on how long it’s been since the person wrote and their reasons for not doing so, or are you just excited to hear from them and to read the letter? Which way do you think God feels when we reach out in prayer, even after a long absence.
The people who are best at prayer almost universally advise us to stop feeling bad about it. Yes, we will forget, but Thomas R. Kelly, in A Testament of Devotion, recommends that we just forgive ourselves and move on. Brother Lawrence says that when his attention was drawn away from God, that God simply recalled it not with punishment but with a delightful sensation, and Brother Lawrence was only too happy to comply, remembering how miserable he had felt without God.
When you think of God, pray. Eventually it becomes a habit.
Non-Expert Tips on Prayer
- Plan to do it when you’re best, and if that’s at 2 a.m., then you’ll probably have a nice uninterrupted prayer time.
- Just start with a few minutes in God’s presence. Really. And if you can do thirty minutes the first time, I don’t want to know about it.
- Try not to judge your results too much. Well, try not to.
- If you are worried about having the right words to bring a petition before God, just picture God’s light and peace shining over this person.
- If you forget for a day or a week or a month, just forgive yourself and try again. God will still be there.
- Stop obsessing about it. Just do it. Repeat.
Julia Roller is an author, editor, and contributor to numerous spiritual formation guides and books. She has written study guides for authors such as Desmond Tutu, Richard Foster, Henri Nouwen, and Jenna Bush. She and her family live in San Diego, CA. This article is from her new book, Mom Seeks God: Practicing Grace in the Chaos.
From Mom Seeks God ©2013 by Julia Roller (Abingdon Press). Used by permission. All rights reserved.