by Billy Beasley
What is your prayer life like? Do you follow a set routine? Were you taught when you were young, as I was, that you should begin each prayer with asking forgiveness for your sins? The one prayer that Jesus taught the disciples to pray, did it begin with seeking absolution for what we had done wrong?
I am not discounting seeking forgiveness for missing the mark. I just don’t believe that God wants us to approach Him focused on our sins all the time. Prayer is conversation with God. Don’t overcomplicate it. And be honest about what you are thinking and feeling and don’t worry that it might not sound right. He knows the truth anyway. Can any of us hide from God?
It is easy to make prayer more difficult than it needs to be. Why not begin with what we are grateful for? I believe more than confession, that God prefers us to come to Him with praise and thanksgiving. Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise… - Psalm 100:4
Many years ago, when I was struggling to have what I felt was any kind of meaningful prayer life, I began to practice something that I simply called ten things. It is a practice I still frequently continue to this day.
For example, maybe my insomnia has rendered me exhausted as my early morning begins. I may be struggling to focus on what I want to bring before God. It helps me to settle in by simply saying, “Okay, Lord. Ten things.” And I begin with what comes to mind, in no order of importance. They will vary from day to day.
The next time you are stressed and tired and having problems focusing on spending time with God in prayer. Try ten things.
This is an example of my ten things while enjoying a morning walk along the beach with my dog, Teke.
1. Thank You Lord for the ocean. My favorite work from your hands.
2. For broken romantic relationships, even though I desired them so much at the time. You gave me Julie, a gift without measure.
3. For this wonderful companion, Teke, who wakes me in the morning nuzzling my head with great affection as if she has not seen me in days.
4. For the Christians that You placed in my life that have helped me to grow.
5. For never giving up on me Lord, especially during the times I gave up on myself.
6. For a rekindled relationship with my longtime friend, Matt. That today we spend a good portion of our time together talking about our relationship with You.
7. That the bills are paid and we have a roof over our head and food in the fridge. Everyone does not have this.
8. For the good friendships that I have enjoyed in this lifetime. Even those that I may no longer be as close with as I once was.
9. For our church and the opportunity to serve.
10. That while I am not where I hope to be, I am so grateful that I am not where I use to be.
As you declare these ten things it also opens up the opportunity to pray for others that might be part of your ten things. For instance, #2, as I thank God for my beautiful wife, I will certainly pray over her day. Pray for protection over her.
#9 would probably lead me to pray for our leaders. That they would know and follow your spirit. That they would be well equipped with wisdom and discernment.
So, the next time you are struggling to pray. Try ten things, or five things. Remember, no order of importance. Just speak what comes to mind and please don’t feel like you got it wrong because you forgot someone or something. Tomorrow is another day and if you do this and speak the same ten things every day, what you will have is a ritual. What we are seeking is to have conversation, relationship with a loving God. I don’t think that is accomplished by rituals.
Isaiah 59:1 Surely the arm of the LORD is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear.
About the Author
Billy Beasley resides in Carolina Beach, NC with his wife Julie and their Australian Cattle Dog, Teke. They are active members of Lifepoint Church in Wilmington, NC. Billy is the author of The River Hideaway - a traditionally published work of faith based fiction and the newly published novel, The Preacher's Letter. He shares two simple beliefs with his favorite character in this novel. Faith in God and a conviction that ‘Hearts have no color’.
You can read his “Sunday Inspiration” column on the 2nd Sunday each month here at Mustard Seed Sentinel.