In his classic book Celebration of Discipline, Richard Foster opens his chapter on prayer saying, “Prayer catapults us onto the frontier of the spiritual life. Of all the Spiritual Disciplines, prayer is the most central, because it ushers us into perpetual communion with the Father.”
Indeed, most of us know that prayer is an important part of living as Jesus’ disciples. At the same time, we—like Jesus’ first disciples—say, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1). We all need some guidance as we spend time in prayer.
As good as praying for others is, prayer is more than just going through a list of prayer requests that involve various ailments from someone else’s aunt’s mother’s brother’s co-worker. Prayer is about transforming us from the inside out.
Foster says, “In prayer, real prayer, we begin to think God’s thoughts after him: to desire the things he desires, to love the things he loves, to will the things he wills. Progressively, we are taught to see things from his point of view.”
Like children, we come before God. Simple. Honest. Vulnerable. If prayer is something that we have to learn, our attitude needs to be like someone who is learning something new. It means we are students, kids open to try a new thing and willing to explore. In this manner, let us explore easing into the frontier of prayer.
Find a good place where you can be quiet for 15-20 minutes without distractions to interrupt your prayer time with God.
Then, spend then entire time (except for the last 5 minutes) simply quieting your mind before God. No talking…just learning to be still as we come to God.
Be prepared. In all the bustle of life, this will be the time when all kinds of random thoughts and emotions start rushing in. In the silence and without distractions, you’ll find that all the unresolved stuff you’ve been pushing down starts to come to the surface—tasks you need to do, things you want to accomplish, feelings you need to deal with, problems that overwhelm you, people that bother you.
As an exercise, I just want you to imagine these thoughts and feelings and emotions being like birds flying in the air. Just let them keep flying as they pass by. Don’t let them make nests on your head; don’t write them down so you remember them later. Just let them keep going. You are just wanting to get in a good place to meet with God. Quiet. Ready. Still.
After 10-15 minutes of stillness, spend the remainder of your time in prayer simply thanking God for the good things he has done in your life over the last few days.
“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10