I Have Clothes In My Prayer Closet

I have a confession to make.  I don’t think I’m all that great in the prayer department.  If you and I took an unannounced look at what’s in my prayer closet, we’d probably find some clothes, shoes, a golf ball or two, and a TV remote- stuff that probably shouldn’t be there.

Prayer has always been a source of background guilt for me.  Now don’t get me wrong.  I spend time in prayer- a fair amount of time.  But on occasion, in the back of my mind, I question my methods.  Am I doing it right?  Do I pray often enough?  Long enough?

In the back of my mind, I question my methods.  Am I doing it right?  Do I pray often enough?  Long enough?

On one hand, prayer is a multilayered, complex, mystical exercise.  Yet on the other, it can be the simplest of words.  It can be sacred and liturgical, or laid back and conversational.  It can be formal or informal, quiet or loud, long or short.

And to make matters worse, there are volumes of writing and teaching about every detail you can think of.  There are prayer methods, prayer books, and devotionals.  We learn about prayer warriors who spend hours praying, and monks and nuns who spend their lives praying.  We’re taught that if we don’t end our prayers with the words “In Jesus’ Name,” then maybe that prayer didn’t count or wasn’t heard.

  • Let me offer you some practical, down to earth, very simplistic guidelines on prayer.  Before I do, there are a couple of things you need to know.  First, I’m no expert.  My words are from my experiences and not from academia.  And second, please don’t interpret my simplistic approach as a lack of appreciation for the importance and sacredness of prayer.  Believe me, I get it.

OK, so if you’re struggling like me in the area of prayer, then here are some ideas.

    • Do what feels natural.  Praying is nothing more than expressing yourself and listening to God, and because we are all different, how you express yourself might be different for me.  Every time I’ve tried to copy someone else’s method, I’ve struggled.  Lots of people write that getting up early in the morning to pray is preferable.  But if your mornings are full, or if you aren’t a morning person, then pray at another time.
    • Use your own words.  God doesn’t want to hear empty words said out of obligation.  The essence of prayer is communication and spiritual communion between two people who love each other.  Imagine your spouse or child sitting down beside you, reciting a speech by rote, then getting up and leaving!  You might not feel eloquent, and you might not know exactly what to say.  God understands all this, and it’s OK.
    • Listen as much as you talk.  Have you ever been in a conversation with someone who constantly talks?  That isn’t a conversation, it’s a soliloquy.  I’m learning that the most important words spoken during prayer aren’t my words, but God’s words.  If you can find a quiet place and start listening, you will hear God’s voice loud and clear.  And that’s a cool thing.

This is only the tip of the iceberg.  In Part II, I’ll talk about what to do if you want to sit down and have a conversation with God.

In the meantime, I would be interested in hearing what works and what doesn’t work for you.  What personal obstacles to prayer do you face?  If you could give someone a single piece of information about praying, what would it be?

15 thoughts on “I Have Clothes In My Prayer Closet”

  1. George, you know how to the point I can be. I get to the matter on hand and don’t get to wordy. I have always prayed that way and felt lacking when praying publically. I know I am not being judged by the One that matters. But….


    1. But… 🙂 That’s what I’m trying to express, too. There’s this sense that my prayer wasn’t as good as it might have been. I have a feeling that your prayers are just right in the eyes of God.


    1. I pray a little all day as I go. I thank him for the beautiful day, the good parking place, my friendships, whatever comes up. I find myself talking to him all the time, and He hears me I know because he makes me smile when I am in conversation with him. Then I have my regular devotion time. Sometime morning but mostly at night.


  2. I always feel inadequate in prayer, but I am an inadequate conversationalist too, therefore I pray my few words and my heart are what God sees and knows of me.


    1. Are you an introvert like me? If so, then we share the struggle to talk. But don’t confuse the scarcity of words with the lack of something to say. In my experience, people who are on the quiet side have deep and complex feelings in their minds. If that describes you, then communicate with God within that format. God likes deep stuff, too.


  3. I find myself praying all throughout the day – as I am driving, waiting at the bank, shopping, taking a shower, laying in bed … whenever I feel the urge or necessity to speak to Him or thank Him for helping me, guiding me, protecting me, or simply loving me. I often wondered if that was enough or if I should set aside a specific time of day for God. Sometimes I feel like maybe I am gypping God. I just have a hard time staying focused for long prayer session. I have tried – it doesn’t seem to work for me.


  4. Long prayer sessions take some discipline, don’t they? I have a feeling God enjoys being such a part of the everyday happenings of your day. That’s what a relationship is all about.


  5. George I too struggle with my prayer life. Jesus tells me not to throw words at God but talk to Him intimately. Sometimes I feel I’m telling God what to do rather than asking and then trusting in his work. Thank you for blogging your honest feelings on this subject, it show us all just how much we need Jesus as the Lord of our lives for guidance and direction. Your message today about Abraham’s faith was powerful. I think prayer and faith go hand and hand.


    1. Thanks, Desiree. One of my biggest prayer challenges is learning how to relate to God on a personal level and not on only a religious or liturgical level. I completely agree with you- faith and prayer go hand in hand.


  6. I am so relieved to read that I am not the only one who struggles with this! I too pray through out the day, but then feel guilty for not have giving Him my full attention.
    So, I recently have set aside a space with all my books and Bibles and I try to spend some time each day with God. I still have a hard time staying focused and not letting my mind wander but I guess it like anything new, it takes practice!


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