Prayer is more than just talking to God. Personal prayer is also about listening, about being quiet with God and being prepared to have the contradictions in your life and the teachings and stories of the Bible to bubble through your mind and reorganize into challenges to you and challenges for you to bring to the larger church.
We are indeed to bring our needs, our fears, and our hopes to God in prayer, but prayer is for more than merely asking for things. When you pray, think about the letters A, C, T, S, and I (a letter for each finger). In your prayers, consider the pattern:
- A doration: "I love you because ...."
- C onfession: "I'm sorry for ...."
- T hanksgiving: "Thank you, for ...."
- S upplication: "Please, help me ...."
- I ntercession: "Please, help my friend ...."
The list of your requests still has a place (supplication), but it is accompanied by other kinds of relating to God which helps keep you from making prayer just a self-centered "gimme" time.
Presbyterians do not prescribe to any specific posture when praying, but we recognize that most of us struggle to stay appropriately attentive during prayer. For many of us, bowing our head, closing our eyes, and/or folding our hands helps us stay more focused on prayer, but those are merely traditions, not requirements for prayer. The problem for most of us is not how we pray but that we pray regularly enough.
The Lord's Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name,
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.