Why I never just ask for "Prayers" (Pt 1)

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Part 1: How I Pray and Why

I identify myself as a Protestant Christian. I was raised that way, even if imperfectly and I try to live that way, very imperfectly but trying. So I pray. I can't say if I pray more, or less or on average the same as other identifying Christians, I'm probably my own unique level of praying in my own unique journey through life.

I don't necessarily formally pray a lot. There's a whole huge backstory to that, that includes a LOT of formal prayer and a lot of emotional and spiritual breakage… there's no need to go into that right now. Suffice it to say that I don't "come before the Lord in prayer" a lot and outside of a Church Service Setting, that phrase makes me anxious. For personal reasons, solely.

I do, however, pray "formal prayers" in an informal setting. Prayers that start with "Dear God…" and end in "In Jesus' Name, Amen" are my idea of serious, formal prayer. Prayers at meal times that go beyond just a blessing of the food, prayers when people are ill or hurting or when tragedies happen.
The love of my life and I pray together formally before one of us travels away from the other.

When I was younger, ok I'll admit it, in high school… *coughtwentyyearsago* I had a "Prayer Notebook" where someone told me to write ACTS prayers. For those of you not in the Sunday School Know (eesh) ACTS Prayers are prayers that follow the structure of:
Adoration and Praise- "You are a holy and loving God and I acknowledge your sovereignty" etc etc…
Confession- "I confess that I am a sinner" (we all know that one)
Thanks- "Thank you for everything that you've done for me this past day…" (it was hard sometimes to be thankful daily, it was a lot of repetition)
Supplication- "Lord I just ask…" (this is where you get to ask for things, not until the end so you don't seem greedy or ungrateful)
That lasted off and on for a semester because it probably took me the whole 15mins of Home Room to think up a one page notebook paper prayer so it was a good way to waste time, that I felt was helping me spiritually. I know… I know.

So now I'm an adult and my "prayer life" has been shaped by all of these things. I've learned in my life about things called Popcorn Prayers (throw up a tiny prayer in the midst of something else) and I've learned about not letting your prayers be in vain (another entire sermon series I could give from rote memory)  and so many other things.
But I've found a rhythm that works for me, works for my relationship with God as I see it… and has gotten me the spiritual results that one who identifies as a Protestant Christian can expect to see from prayer, in some small measure.

Now I pray when I have the inclination. For whatever reason, in whatever situation and not super formally at all.
Riding in the car, "God please help me make it through this day because I know you're the absolute source of everything I will need to make it and I am fully acknowledging that you have put inside of me everything that I need for today so long as I am willing to trust you that it is there."
Wracked with emotion when I can't find the words beyond "pleasegodpleasegodpleasegodpleasegod."
Completely thankful for everything in the world "Thank you God that you woke me up today to see another beautiful day and that I am breathing and alive and able to partake of this wonderful creation around me."

Sometimes I still selfish pray, I mean, we're all only human. But in general, this is my prayer life as it stands, 33 (almost 34) years into my trips around the sun.

Carry on to Part 2 here, whenever I get around to posting it.
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