One day, after spending a bit of time sharing our lives with one another and sharing what we had been learning about God, Kevin suggested that we end our time together that day by praying together.
I had never in my life sat down and prayed with another individual. Neither had I ever prayed out loud. I asked Kevin how long I should pray for since he asked me to go first. He said, rhetorically and very casually, “Oh, how about five minutes?”
FIVE MINUTES? He might as well have said five hours! What in the world was I going to say for five minutes?
Thankfully Kevin had created a safe space for me. I knew he loved me and cared for me deeply. So, I was willing to risk giving this prayer thing a shot.
I really don't remember what I prayed that day nearly 40 years ago. But I'm sure, that it was very rudimentary. Probably something like “Dear God, thank you for this day, thank you for my friend Kevin, in Jesus’ name amen.”
After nearly 4 decades walking with Jesus I still feel like I'm in kindergarten when it comes to communicating with God. And that's with a seminary degree, six years of full-time ministry, and untold numbers of books about prayer under my belt. That said, prayer has become one of the sweetest most delicious disciplines in my life.
So what's the secret?
There is no secret.
It's about being genuine, and being confident to have a conversation with your Creator who is also your loving father in heaven.
Learning to pray is kind of like a small child learning to walk. You just try. And any effort will thrill your Father in heaven, just like the efforts my kids made when they were first learning to walk thrilled me.
Do you believe God is thrilled with you? I guarantee you he is. All you need to do to be assured of that has to read Zephaniah chapter 3 verse 17. There, you will see that he rejoices over you with singing.
In the Gospels we read about the time Jesus came walking on the water to the disciples who were in a boat. Peter pipes up and says “Lord if it's you, tell me to come to you on the water.” Jesus says “Come,” and lo and behold Peter steps out of the boat and literally walks on water towards Jesus.
However, on the way the wind and the waves distract him. Having taken his eyes off of Jesus he begins to sink. So, he cries out for help.
Was it an eloquent, long-winded, flowery, educated -sounding request? No, he simply screamed “Lord save me!”
So if you're looking for starting place to tackle five minutes alone with God, a simple “Lord save me!” is a great place to start. Jesus is well aware of the wind and waves in your life. He will not lecture you, berate you, or belittle you if you cry out to him. He will simply reach out his hand as he did with Peter and pull you to himself.
Don't get me wrong, the wind and the waves will still be raging, but you will be safe in the arms of Jesus.
So let's get started. Right now, take about five minutes to sit with God. One great exercise that may help you is to write out a conversation with him.
How about you start your prayer by writing down “Lord save me!” Then, stop and think about how your loving father, who cares deeply for you, would respond to you what you asked. Write it down. Maybe he says “I'm here for you.” Maybe he says “I've got you.” So, hearing these words from your father who cares so deeply for you, what might you say back to him? Maybe something like “Thank you.” Maybe something like “Thank you, I need you really badly right now.”
Then, how would your loving and kind father respond to that? How about “I'm so glad you asked for my help because I want to give it to you. I want to give my help to you and demonstrate my love and kindness towards you.” Write it down.
Okay, now you're cooking.
Well, you’ve got his attention. What else do you want to talk to him about? You might say “Hey, you know what God? I'm having some trouble at work.” How might God respond to that? Maybe he would say “Yes. I’ve seen what's going on there. Tell me about it.” At which point you can continue your conversation with him writing down your side of the conversation and your thoughts about how he might respond.
Perhaps you have a friend in need. Why not tell your father about your friend and have a conversation about your friend with your father, on your friend’s behalf?
God blessed us with rich and incredibly wonderful imaginations. And, I am not by any stretch of the imagination suggesting that God is and "imaginary" friend. He is quite real.
The value of this exercise is not in fabricating some imaginary God. The value of it is in helping you start a conversation with God, who has demonstrated his love for you through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus…for you, personally.
So, give it a try. And let me know how it works for you. I'd love to hear from you.
Hugs and blessings to you my friend.