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Monday, July 20, 2015

How my prayer life has changed with a couple simple things!

I grew up in church and almost lived there because my family was really involved. My grandparents came to our church when the church was really new and my mom was only 2 or 3, so she has gone there almost her whole life and I have gone there my whole life. Growing up in church is a blessing because you have a strong foundation and support system from the beginning. Unfortunately, something that happens when you have gone to church your whole life is that you stop studying the Bible in depth, and you just skim over the verses because you’ve heard them so much. This happens to me more than I would like to admit. 
For example, I’ve heard/read 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 a thousand times. “Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” Other versions of this verse say “pray without ceasing” and “continually be in prayer” and “pray constantly”. I probably have this verse memorized. That’s great that I don’t even have to look in my Bible to remember this verse, but that becomes the problem. I don’t look in my Bible, and I just repeat the verse and don’t think about what it’s really about. 
Last year or so, I wanted to actually try to live what this verse says. I wanted to never stop praying and be thankful in all circumstances and once I did it, it changed everything. 
I think a lot of us feel like our prayers have to be extravagant and formal. We hear the prayers said at church or read prayers posted on facebook or blogs and we think our prayers aren’t good or long enough. While I think that it’s good for us to take prayer seriously, I think that just like Bible verses, prayer can also become really routine if we just repeat the same structured prayer. I think we over-think it a lot. We then don’t grow in our prayer life because we repeat the same thing without thinking about the words we’re praying. God just wants to hear our hearts. Have you listened to a child’s prayer lately? They are the simplest prayers. Their prayers aren’t organized, thought out in advance, and they don’t use big, fancy words. In the Bible, Jesus told us to be like little children. To have faith like them. I think we can also learn about how to pray after listening to their prayers. Their prayers are honest and from the heart, not holding anything back. 
So when I started trying to pray continually and give thanks in all circumstances, I started with something so simple and found that like I said, our prayers don’t have to be formal. The goal is to be in constant communication with God. I don’t have this totally figured out and I never will because I’m human, but this is what I’ve found to help. You’re probably going to think that this is way too simple to actually make a difference but please give it a try for 3 days and see how it changes you and your relationship with God! This is what I did and still do every day. 
(I say all of this in my head unless no one is around)
When I wake up, I say “thank you God for this day”! I walk into the bathroom and say thank you God for letting me have a bathroom, especially one that’s cute and air-conditioned. I then wash my hands and thank God for fresh water and soap. I walk down the stairs and as I’m walking down, I thank God that I was able to go down the stairs, because there are times when I haven’t been able to. I get my morning medicines and a drink and thank God for my access to medicines and the many drink options that I have. I let our dog out and thank God for my dog who brings joy to my life. I notice the flowers and thank God for the beautiful flowers. I go to the kitchen to get something to eat and thank God for the abundance of food. I see or talk to my parents or brother and thank God for them. I walk back upstairs to my room and thank God for the ability to walk up the stairs. When I get upstairs, I have to sit on my bed for a minute to catch my breath and rest. I thank God for a comfortable bed to sit on and the opportunity to rest. When I go to the doctor and have to wait forever, I thank God for the opportunity to see a doctor. When I face challenges during the day, I find something to be grateful for. So when I face problems at the pharmacy, I thank God for the air conditioning and insurance, even though insurance is causing the problem. When I’m having my blood drawn or having an IV started and they’re on the 6th try, I thank God for the chance to talk to the nurse helping me and the medical care I’m receiving. When my dog throws up on the carpet and I’m cleaning it up, I thank God for the carpet being there in the first place because it’s soft and nice. 
I think you get the idea. I know it sounds almost ridiculous how simple it is, but it really changes your perspective and opens your communication with God. I find myself less stressed when I find things to be grateful for. Please give this a try and let me know how it went! 
What are things that you do to help strengthen your prayer life and relationship with God?

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