Yep, I do, I talk to myself. It's frequently my transition into prayer. Sometimes when I struggle in prayer I feel like all I'm doing is talking to myself. Yes, I do answer. Yes, God answers! Yes, the Holy is my help. And, my praying doesn't always look the same.
A common thread in the places I've visited this summer is prayer, is that, "prayer" doesn't seem to look quite the same in any two places. Many forms. Many relationships with the Divine. All connected.
Prayer at Nuevo Nacimiento UMC (New Birth UMC), Lebanon, PA looks like conversation with neighbors, musical praise, new ideas, a night apart for listening, and indeed some of the usual hands-folded, or hands-raised prayers. What I observed was that God answered prayers with the heart, the community, the world around and an inner voice of ideas.
Prayer at Calvin Presbyterian Church in Zelionople, PA permeated the work of the church in contemplative ways. Outside the front door was a labyrinth for prayer walking. In the processes of leadership and planning were moments for silence to listen for God. Prayer included traditional and corporate prayers in worship liturgy.
Prayer at All God's Children UMC in Aulander, NC shone with action, caring for children, families and neighbors daily. Prayer was often prayer on the move. Prayer showed up around worship formed in the spirit of 12-Step meetings and indeed in more familiar ways.
Prayer's common ground was a deep and passionate relationship, connection, seeking-after God. Each community lamented moments that this relationship had taken a second-best position, and how secondary status led to disconnection in practical things like succeeding at tasks in ministry, lost vitality in worship, exit of people, wandering direction, and/or a loss of hope. Prayer only needed this common ground of seeking God, not a common form.
So, I talk to myself and always believe God is ready to join the conversation. My prayers are at their best and most exciting when I too am pursuing the Divine. I find that God's not fussy about my skill, my method, my location, my tools...only my intention to seek the Holy.
In Shamokin, PA, more than 20 years ago, this truth began to find a deeper place in my life as I daily walked the neighborhood, past the culm piles and into town. Each foot fall moved the rhythm of my prayers forward. It was the rhythm of listening. It was the rhythm of lives. It was the rhythm of retreat. It was the rhythm of silence. It was the path to health and life seeking God.
Be encouraged in your seeking the Holy, God, Jesus, Spirit. Jesus himself modeled conversational prayer on the road to Emmaus. He gave us a guide to prayer in the Lord's prayer. He shared contemplative prayer in his retreats to the wilderness. He shared practical healing, feeding and life-giving prayers. He celebrated God's grace and offered encouragement.
Maybe your self-conversations, walks, acts of kindness are where your prayers begin. I'd love to walk with you in this journey of seeking God. I'd value hearing the forms your seeking takes. Tell me how it's going.