Learning to Pray

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I walked past the chapel along the path into the wooded area. The sun broke through the trees as the brick buildings rose to meet me. The University of Puget Sound is absolutely beautiful and since school was out for the summer the campus was quiet and felt empty. I had just given an excuse on why I needed to leave work early, but instead of running my errand I hurried down the walkway towards a bench along a secluded path.

I had been reading a book on prayer by Charles Spurgeon. He talked about prayer in a way I had never heard before. Spurgeon said things like:

True prayer is an approach of the soul by the Spirit of God to the throne of God. It is not the utterance of words, it is not alone the feeling of desires, but it is the advance of the desires to God, the spiritual approach of our nature towards the Lord our God. True prayer is not a mere mental exercise, nor a vocal performance, but it is deeper far than that-it is spiritual commerce with the Creator of heaven and earth.

I hadn’t experienced this. Was prayer part of my life? Sure, before meals and a quick “thank you for the day” before I fell asleep but whatever Spurgeon was describing was not the encounter with God I had partaken in. My prayer life was stagnant. Honestly, my walk with God was stagnant. I had been praying for greater faith but God wasn’t answering my prayers. Jesus seemed more like a mysterious character from ancient stories than He did a real person in my life, let alone a friend. 

I reached the bench and sat down. The sun was shining on my face, and the summer warmth surrounded me. Birds sang from the distant trees and a soft wind blew. Ahh, this was perfect. A wonderful setting to transport me to a new realm of prayer… My phone buzzed. I opened my eyes and pulled it out. A minute later the phone was back in my pocket and I closed my eyes again. I heard footsteps walking toward me. I opened my eyes and saw a college student walk past me towards to campus coffee shop. Coffee sounded good. I closed my eyes again. “Lord help me pray more,” my mind said… “Dark coffee tastes better but has less caffeine,” I thought. My mind was wandering.

The truth is, I wanted to pray but I didn’t really know how. Don’t get me wrong, my family had devotions every day. We would go around and pray for various things. But as an adult, I was lost. I can’t say this was anyone’s fault but my own. No one had ever sat me down and said: “this is how you pray.” I had never taken a class or stumbled through a workbook. My entire prayer life had been a series of short meal prayers and bedtime “thank yous.” I sat on that bench and realized I needed to change something. I spent the next few years exploring different kinds of prayer. I picked up various liturgical prayer books and explored different traditions. I tried keeping a prayer journal, making lists and explored different apps to help me expand my prayer life.

As I began to find my own rhythm in prayer, my own routine, I began to figure out what worked best for me. My prayer life began to grow and my relationship with God took hold. Other factors contributed as well in my walk with the Lord, in strengthening my faith and my relationship with Jesus, but prayer was a key component. 

Our goal is to help others experiencing this same kind of growth. Lacacia and I use a prayer app called “Echo” to organize and help keep us on track. I like the app so much I thought it would be good to put together a short video on how I use it. Check out the video below.

 

 


Feature Image by Jack Sharp

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