I think prayer is an amazing and puzzling thing.
The Bible tells us to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5). The Gospels tell us to ask, seek and knock and we will get results. I wrestle with the idea of prayer. Am I trying to convince God to do what He already is going to do? Am I trying to change His mind about something? Doesn't He already know what I'm thinking, what I need, and what He's going to do?
Sometimes I think prayer is less about God and more about me. I can be a pretty independent person. I know how I want things and I'll do them myself if necessary to get what I want, the way I want it. Maybe prayer is about acknowledging my true "power" in the universe - or lack thereof. Maybe prayer is saying, "You are God and I am not."
I am reading a great book on prayer right now called Pray Big. I don't have a picture for you because I am reading it electronically. [It could very well be the first book I finish on an e-reader (no matter how much I love my Nook, I am more of a tangible book person).] I like its message about praying specifically, praying for things that are bigger than I am, and honoring God with God-sized requests.
Recently I was reading a section where the author talked about a time when he was in big trouble. His prayer was just one word - "Help." And help arrived. Prayer doesn't have to be fancy. It just has to be real - authentic.
Last week, after we received word that my husband's grandmother had passed away, we all sat around trying to take it all in. My husband was grieving the fact that we had plans to talk with her and see her soon, but wouldn't have the chance. I was thinking through all the other things we already had going on and how to work travel and a funeral in with it all.
I pulled my son close to me and started talking to him about my ideas - things we were going to have to miss because of the funeral and other things we would try to work out. He was understandably sad, and I pulled him close and talked softly about my husband's grief and our sadness and acknowledged how hard this year has been for all of us. Then I closed my eyes and said, "Lord, help us. Amen."
My son looked at me. "That was short." Yes, it was, but it was exactly what that moment needed. Prayer doesn't have to be long words and a formal tone. It can be a sigh, a plea, a whoop or a wail.
Lord, hear our prayers.