Do you struggle with prayer times? Maybe you are actually praying already – but prayer for you is not sitting on your own with your eyes closed and offering God a shopping list (is that prayer for anyone?!). Where in your normal life do you already feel close to God? Or at peace? Or what stirs you up and makes you want to shout about stuff? It could be whilst you’re jamming on your guitar, or commuting, or playing football, or cooking dinner, or even reading your facebook newsfeed..! Whatever it is, try and identify it, and do it more, and a little more deliberately in God’s general direction! That, my friend, is prayer :) Here are some more ideas that might help you to seek God a bit more deeply; give a few of these a try and see what style suits you:
- Go for a walk with God. Letting your feet wander is a good way to stop your mind wandering too much when you pray, and helps you relax and chat with God as a Friend. As you walk, chat with God about what’s on your heart, and try and discern God’s responses to you.
- Get one or 2 Christian friends round for a prayer time – but instead of talking normally to each other about your prayer requests and then ‘praying’, just begin by inviting Jesus into your conversation together as you begin to talk about the stuff on your hearts, and thank Him for being there with you and hearing you when you think you’re done.
- Sounds obvious, but how often do we do it..? Get to know Jesus better by reading one (or more!) of the Gospels right through. Remember He’s with you as you read, so let Him challenge you, and ask Him about stuff you find difficult or don’t understand.
- Spend some time in your room with an empty chair – imagine Jesus is sat on it, and chat with Him as you would a friend.
- Use a passage from the Gospels in your prayer time. Read it, and then spend a while with it in your imagination. Imagine yourself into the scene – whether you imagine you are yourself, or one of the people mentioned in the text. What’s the scene like? It doesn’t matter if it looks realistic or as described in the passage or not, just go with it wherever your imagination flows. How do you feel? Imagine you encounter Jesus – what do you say to Him? What does He say to you?
- Climb a tree (or sit underneath one!) in a quiet place. Notice the slow rhythms of the tree – how it bends in the breeze, how the seasons affect it, how slowly it grows. Let the tree’s rhythms seep into you and slow you down inside, and then imagine God’s rhythms – the God who sees your ‘right now’ and the whole of eternity together.
- Pray through Psalm 136:23-24. Let God examine your heart and bring to light both your strengths and things that need to change. ‘Examine me, O God, and know my mind; test me, and discover my thoughts. Find out if there is any evil in me and guide me in the everlasting way.’
- Hang out with Jesus whilst doing chores – He’s right there with you, so chat to Him! Doing something practical as you pray keeps your mind focussed on Him, and we’re close to the God who made Himself a Servant when we’re serving others.
- ‘The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.’ Psalm 19:1 ‘Ever since God created the world, his invisible qualities, both his eternal power and his divine nature, have been clearly seen; they are perceived in the things that God has made.’ Romans 1:20 What can you learn about God from nature? Go outside and spend a while nature watching, deliberately looking for what God can teach you.
- What’s your story? We’ve all got our stories of God’s work in our lives, from stories of how you first encountered Jesus, to how He’s guided you as you’ve tried to ‘act justly’, to stories of major answered prayers... so spend a while either with a Christian friend or on your own brainstorming your experiences into your stories.
- Sometimes the world gets in the way of our prayer times and invades our minds whilst we’re trying to just get to know God. Sometimes that’s good – we can bring the world’s need to God as we pray. But it doesn’t help when we’re just trying to press through to meet the person of God. Silence can help – go somewhere quiet, on your own or with others, and spend a while becoming ‘centred’ – some good ways to still your soul and empty your mind of ‘stuff’ are to notice the rhythm of your breathing, or to focus on what you can actually sense around you rather than what’s in your head, or to close your eyes and repeat a word or phrase to yourself – whatever helps. As your mind clears, try to let go of thoughts and feelings that pass through your mind, and just lift your spirit in God’s direction. You may or may not ‘hear from’ God – that’s not necessarily the point. But you may well experience a really powerful encounter with God, beyond words, even if just for a second.
Got other ways you like to pray, or stories to tell about your own God-seeking journey? Let us know!