We aren’t supposed to wallow in our sin, though. The next step is to repent and turn around, stop doing things that we know aren’t really quite what God wants us to do. Quit acting in ways that are contrary to the mandate to “love one another as I have loved you”.How do we do that? We take time to be with God who loves us, like a parent-a father or mother. We cuddle up in God’s arms and say, “I’m sorry and I’ll try to do better.” That’s called prayer. And some of us are intimidated by it.
Consider it conversation with God rather than some big report that you have to come up with and use fancy words in. Do you talk to your friends with ‘$100 words’? Or do you just chat? While conversation with God is maybe a bit more than an informal chat, it is still not something you have to prepare for. Just sit down and open your heart to the One who loves you more than you or I understand.
This Lent might be a time to try out a different prayer style or new prayer discipline. If it doesn’t feed your spirit and bring you closer to God, you can always abandon it. However, you may find a new route to conversation with God. An easy way to begin is by using the ACTS touchstone to pray (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication).
There are some other special disciplines that can help us focus in our praying. Last year, about this time, I posted a series of prayer aids on the Varieties of Gifts blog. You can check them out here. Some suggestions are things like praying with the psalms, keeping a prayer journal, arrow prayers, 5 finger prayers and using a rosary. Other aids can be candles, walking, vigils and many others.
Sometimes we try a prayer discipline and it just doesn’t feel comfortable. We struggle while others rave about how great it is. Things like Centering Prayer and Journaling can be a good fit for some and difficult for others. That’s because we have different prayer personalities. These have fancy names like Augustinian and Ignatian, Thomistic, and Franciscan. If you know your Myers Briggs personality, you can look up which type might fit you here. Having said that, don't give up on something new after just one try-you may discover that sitting in the quiet of contemplative prayer or writing and drawing your thoughts in a journal are actually helpful-once you get used to the discipline.
Next time, we’ll take a look at one specific prayer and spiritual aid: Journaling. This isn’t something that everyone thinks they will like, but there are many ways to journal that don’t involve just writing pages and pages of your thoughts. Check back for some hints.