Anyone, believers and unbelievers alike, can say a prayer. It takes faith, trust, and love to actually pray one. Making the distinction is best done before any adjustments are made, so here’s my version of what saying and praying mean. Keep in mind, your definitions may differ.
- Said without emotion
- Said because you ‘have’ to
- Always taking, never giving thanksgiving or praise
- Disrespectful at times
- No relationship created
- Done mostly for show, whether to yourself or others
- Heartfelt, emotional, and hopeful
- Said because you want to, and need to
- Personal, very individual
- Giving praise and thanksgiving, as well as asking for things you need
- Respectful all the time
- A lasting, loving relationship created
- Done for your soul and the souls of others. Given to God every time
These lists are sometimes cut in half and mixed together. For example, you may have the emotion and hope, but lack the respect or you do it for the wrong reasons. A lot of the time, we simply pray to mark it off our checklists or to put another thing down to brag about with our church friends.
Acknowledging these qualities and avoiding them will already make our prayer lives a hundred times better, but how else can we bridge the gap, and pray, not say?
- Firstly, we can humble ourselves. God is great and mighty, and still, he bends down to listen to our meek voices. Isn’t that an honour we shouldn’t take lightly? He will place us highly in Heaven if we do one simple thing: pray with love and respect, and humble ourselves through it. We shouldn’t pray to gain popularity or to seem holier than everyone else. We should pray because we want to show our love to God, and help others through our inquiries.
- We can say our prayers slowly, and feel them. Put strength, hope, faith, and emotion into your prayers. Pause often, visualize and feel them. Allow your whole soul, mind, and body to become a prayer in action. Hold onto Jesus as you cry, as you smile, as you ask for patience. Let Him flood through you.
- We can set up a specific time and place to pray, but do it through out the day, anywhere, anyway. Of course having our alone time with God is incredibly important. But so is praying throughout the day. If you see an ambulance pass by you, send up a quick, “help those people”. When you need help maintaining your cool at work, just ask for peace. You can also thank God for the beauty of the world, or the sweetness in a child’s smile.
- We can make it special. As a Catholic, I kneel to pray whenever I can. I also make the sign of the cross, and use specific prayers to open or close my personal ones. You can adopt your own rituals, maybe something as simple as opening up your prayer with a quote from a godly song. Make it something you won’t just rush through, but rather, treat with respect and reverence.
- We can base it off of scripture. Pray a psalm that rings true to your situation, or recite a piece of the Sermon on the Mount. Just speak through something that is so special, it is in God’s own Words. It really helps bring you to Him, and see things through His eyes.
- We can stay silent, and be quiet for Him for a length of time. Volunteer five minutes to pray, and in those five minutes, speak only to pray, and be a beacon of discipline and love.
How are you bridging the gap, each and every day?