Hopefully you've done some exploring of this site and have spent a little time getting familiar with the basics on the "Enter Here" page. And, I hope you've done a bit of thinking about thinking after looking at the Creative Ways page.
A friend and mentor
Pray "out loud"??? Yikes!
Well, I had never said a "personal" prayer out loud in my life. The only thing close I had ever done was to recite the Lord's Prayer (Our Father who art in heaven...), not even knowing what some of the words meant ("hallowed" is not in my day-to-day vocabulary).
Five minutes...are you kidding?
I'll never forget that experience. Now, with more than 35 years of experience praying publicly and privately, five minutes seems like a nice warm-up.
The "desperation factor"
Sometimes we hold back from considering new ideas or behaviors because we feel embarrassed. Maybe the ideas or behaviors are different from what we are used to and different from what those around us - family, social circles, colleagues, etc. - are used to.
Out of the comfort zone
You know, a great way to get to know someone is to have a conversation with him or her. So, as we begin to put into practice some creative ways to WAKE UP our spiritual lives, I ask you to give the following a try. I don't know your background or experience in the realm of prayer so I'm going to offer seven things for you to try beginning with the "easiest," that will hopefully get you out of your comfort zone and help you grow in your communion with God.
Some of you may have never, ever prayed before. Some of you may be "experts." So, when I say that I'll begin with the "easiest," I don't want to minimize that the first few things I recommend may be super-difficult for some of you. Others may want to skip down the list.
As I offer these to you, I hope that your desperation factor will outweigh your embarrassment factor. I don't expect you to necessarily do all of these in one day or at one sitting! But please do give them a try. I'd love to hear from you, as you go on your journey so please feel free to contact me through the Contact page on this site.
Seven Ways to "Grow on" an Adventure with God...in Conversation
1. Pray the Lord's prayer, out loud (Matthew 6:9-12). Now, when I say "out loud," I don't mean "out soft." Speak it with intensity, like you mean it. When Jesus prayed in verse 10 "your will be done," in the original language, that phrase is the exact same phrase He spoke in the Garden of Gethsemane when He was sweating drops of blood, asking that the experience of the Cross might be taken away from Him, and then qualified His request with "your will be done" (Luke 22:42). [Note: If you do not have a Bible, you can just enter the book (e.g. Matthew), chapter (6) and verse (9-12) reference in Google and it will bring it up for you: Matthew 6:9-12.]
2. Kick #1 up a notch. In Proverbs chapter two, we are directed to seek wisdom. The benefits of wisdom are many. When the writer encourages us to seek it, he writes that we should "...call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding..." Proverbs 2:3. I remember reading this verse one time and was especially touched by it. I had a little office building in our side yard that I used as a study. I ran into our home and told my wife I would be right back. I jumped into my car and drove onto the interstate, just a few blocks from my house. I remember, it was in the evening. As I entered the highway, I cried out at the top of my lungs "GOD GIVE ME INSIGHT! GOD GIVE ME UNDERSTANDING!" I took the first exit, turned the car around, and headed back home.
Go ahead. Try it. Cry ALOUD for something you would like to ask God for. A closer walk with Him. A more vibrant faith. Closer more meaningful relationships with others. Wisdom. The reason I jumped into my car is that I didn't want to freak out my neighbors, or my wife. If anyone saw me in my car, they probably thought I was rocking out to some song.
The purpose of this exercise is to simply prompt you to do something the Word encourages us to do, and that's to cry out to God. This is not an odd practice. If you read the Gospels, you will find there were many occasions when Jesus cried out.
3. Pray your own prayer, out loud. We started off by praying Scripture, which is a great way to pray. But we also need to learn how to express our own thoughts, ideas, hopes, disappointments, defeats, victories and other emotions and life happenings to our Father in heaven. While He will certainly "hear" your prayer if prayed "silently," it will bless and encourage you to express yourself out loud.
4. Pray with somebody, out loud. Find a friend who would be willing to speak a prayer with you. Praying with another person is a powerful experience. It's a way to bond with God and another human being simultaneously. The prayer does not need to be long or complex. Just a simple expression of love. A cry for help. A word of thanksgiving.
5. Pray for somebody, out loud. I saw a cartoon that showed a man walking somewhere. There was a "thought bubble" where you could read what he was thinking. Under the thought bubble there was a "conversation bubble" where you could read something he then said.
In the thought bubble, it showed he was thinking, "Uh oh, here comes Fred. I told him I would pray for him. 'Dear God bless Fred.'" In the conversation bubble, he says, "Oh hi, Fred. I've been praying for you!"
Sometimes someone will ask us to say a prayer for him because of something he is concerned about. Instead of just saying "OK," how about taking a moment to pray for him, out loud, right then and there? I mean, he just asked you to pray for him. Seriously. I know this is a lot to ask of you. Most people won't even do this "in church"!
I'm not saying to go on the prayer "warpath." Don't be "weird" or try to freak people out. But do look for opportunities when the time seems appropriate, to pray for someone, with that someone, out loud.
6. Pray for someone over the phone, out loud. Building on #5, if you are talking to someone and she presents an opportunity for prayer, by all means pray for her over the phone! We laugh over the phone, cry over the phone, rejoice over the phone, share our innermost thoughts over the phone. Why not pray over the phone? I do it all the time and it's always a blessing to the one on the other end of the line.
7. Pray the Scriptures over others, out loud. Building on some of the items above, take one of the prayers offered in Scripture and pray it over someone. You can do this for someone when you are not with her, or when you are with her. For instance, there is a great prayer in Ephesians 1:17-21. Take a look at the passage and everywhere the word "you" shows up, insert the name of the one you are praying for. Talk about a powerful way to pray! Yikes. This way rocks.
As you practice praying for others this way, you will find ways to incorporate the Word into other kinds of prayers too.
OK, that's good for starters. We'll look at other ways to pray and other ways to WAKE UP our spiritual lives in future blog posts. May God bless you mightily as you choose to let your desperation factor outweigh your embarrassment factor.