I think of myself as a “man of prayer” ……however, I don’t pray for parking spaces in shopping malls….I try not to tell you “I’ll pray for you” if I don’t really think I will……I don’t like ‘boring’ prayers where people pray for the same thing they just spent 10 minutes telling you about….I don’t like ‘aggressive’ prayers where people try to get God’s attention by yelling or saying phrases repeatedly as if God has a hearing problem.
I DO like creative praying….to me, if this is such an important thing…then it could be and should be one of the most creative activities we do….the following are just a few of my ideas on how to put a dose of creativity into this ordinarily boring activity.
- Fill an entire piece of paper with the names of the people that have had some impact on your life…use the time to think through all the little nooks and crannies of your life…many of these people you have taken for granted…say a word of thanks for each one as you carefully write their name.
- Allow everyday realities to direct your thoughts into new areas as illustrated by my journal entry – “God, I really don’t feel like praying today because my back is killing me…help me to pray for those who are in more pain than me…those in the hospital today…those in nursing homes…those in developing countries in pain because they simple don’t have basic medicines available to them…etc
- Develop a prayer of confession less based on your sins and more based on the simple reality of who you are – God, I confess to you that I’m a human being… I am overly influenced by fear, hunger, sleep, pain, etc….I am often fickle, indecisive, forgetful, arrogant… I can be compassionate and selfish in the same day, spiritual and materialistic in the same hour. I DO have great potetial… the bottom line is …I need you.
- Create prayer out of the metaphors of everyday life…such as taking a shower – As I undress, I recognize that you know me the way I really am…As I feel the water I thank you for refreshing my soul….As I wash myself, I ask you to cleanse me deep with in….As I dry myself with this towel, I am reminded of the warmth of your love for me…As I put on this cologne, I desire that my life be like a pleasing fragrance to you and others I’ll see this day…
- Allow some time for lament – Put on some sad music (I like Górecki’s 3rd Symphony and Barber’s Adagio for Strings)…hold in your hands an object representing the subject of your lament…and allow yourself some time to think through all the people related to this sadness…example: hold a carved African statue and allow yourself to empathize with those related to any of the major social issues (aids, mass rape, corruption) think about the widows, the children, the elderly, those alone………or surround yourself with your own clothes…read the labels – (Made in ______) and try to feel the pain of those from various countries, who made these garments for you…their long hours…their oppressive bosses…their separation from their families…their unrealized dreams….