My grandparents planned a whole Junior Seamanship Course for us that summer—certificate and all. Part of the course was learning all of the sailing terminology and being able to respond appropriately to my grandfather’s commands whether we were in the middle of the ocean or sailing into our assigned slip at the marina. Communication was especially important when storms blew in. We had to know how to respond instantly without asking why or how.
But during the calm times, that was when we could ask all the whys and hows we wanted. The questions and answers during the calm times brought us closer to our captain while the stories brought us closer to our grandparents. Both types of communication helped build trust, so we were prepared when the storms rose.
What does communication look like for the Christian? When everyone else deserts you, God is as close as your next prayer. When you’re lying alone on a hard, plastic chair in the emergency room in the middle of the night with your child who’s on a suicide watch, and all you can do is cry, “Oh, God,” he knows what you need. He can bring comfort and peace even then.
When your church friends turn their backs on you because of false rumors spread by your soon-to-be-ex-husband (and church leaders—yes, for real), Jesus is right there beside you saying, “I know how it feels to be betrayed by those closest to me. Lean on my shoulder for a while.” It’s in those times that the comfort of memorized Scripture and wordless prayers are felt the most. But you can’t know that comfort if you don’t invest time in prayer and Bible reading before you get to that point.
I know that God doesn’t always answer the way we want or when we want. But He is not on our timetable! And he always knows what’s best for us in the long run. Don’t be discouraged; keep praying.
Having trouble getting started? Me too. Here are a few ideas:
1. Pray out loud when you walk around the neighborhood or in the park. I often pray as I walk around the pond on my breaks during the work day.
2. Write out your prayers. I find this especially useful because I can pour out my heart more easily than if I’m just trying to think about what I want to say. Writing my prayers often helps to clarify my thinking.
3. Just talk to Him like he’s sitting across the table from you at Panera Bread or on the couch next to you or riding in the front seat of the car on your way to work. Conversation with our Heavenly Father does not have to be complicated. He’s not hung up on any particular format.
4. When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, he taught them The Lord’s Prayer. It’s short, sweet, and to the point (Matthew 6:9-13). We can mimic it.
5. Pray Scriptures. Use the psalms or one of Paul’s prayers and personalize it with your name and the names of your loved ones.
One of the most precious letters (yes, real ink and paper) came from my mum when I was in college. She shared that she had been and would be using Colossians 1:9-12 to pray for me. I still have that letter folded and saved inside my Bible in that passage.
6. There are many other methods. Kim at Salvaged Living has a lovely post describing six different models—and she even includes a free printable to put in your Bible or prayer journal.
Praying helps get your anchor ready to drop when needed, and it helps hold the boat steady after you drop the anchor—it is the anchor. If you’re not prayed up before a crisis hits, your anchor may as well be buried under all the flotsam in the bottom of the hold. But praying (and reading your Bible and being involved in community) brings your anchor up to the bow of the boat, makes sure it’s secured to the boat, and has it ready to throw overboard as soon as it’s needed.
“For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you” (Colossians 1:9 NIV).
What’s your favorite way/place to pray? Let me know! And drop me a line to let me know how I can pray for you this coming week.