How to begin praying



Light for the Way devotional seriesI have been privileged to write about the National Day of Prayer for four years now, and today I’d like to use it as an opportunity to talk about a question that I get at least every few months: How do I begin praying?

If you are a person of prayer, this question might seem strange. You already know that there is no correct or incorrect way to do it, no trick to be learned or taught. There are times for us to write prayers with lofty words and phrases, and times to pray with sighs that cannot be verbalized. There are times to pray the scripture back to God and times to speak spontaneously from the heart. There are times to cry out a prayer and times to barely whisper. All of these are right, good and holy.

But that answer is not all that helpful to somebody who has finally mustered up the courage to ask the question, to take the chance that there is somebody up there listening and to actually try praying for the first time in years, decades or even the first time ever.

So here is my best attempt at a single piece of advice to begin praying: Trust that you are talking to somebody who is already closer to you than your best friend. This is not the beginning of a relationship for God, even if it feels like it to you. God has been with you your entire life and already loves you completely. You don’t have to be nervous or find the right words, because you already have the relationship qualities shared by some of our residents who have been married for 50 years: easy familiarity and total companionship. With that trust, just speak to one who is ready to hear.

Or as Paul puts it in Acts 17, “God is not far from any one of us, for in him we live and move and have our being.” And, of course, if you wanted to talk with your campus pastor about this, you would make their whole year in doing so. Now let us pray.

Pastor Chris WheatleyRev. Chris Wheatley serves PHS as senior director of pastoral care services. He is an ordained Lutheran pastor and has served in hospice, eldercare, hospital, HIV/AIDS and congregational settings. He and his wife Nicole are perpetually outnumbered by cats and Dobermans.

The Light for the Way series provides staff with an examination of a biblical reading to deepen our focus on scripture. Thank you for engaging with this series as we seek wisdom through prayer and reflection as a Christian Ministry.



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