Head back to Part 1 right here: How I Pray and Why

So, from the last part of this we gather that I:
-Am Protestant Christian
-Pray more often than just to bless food or when I want something from God
-Still fall back on being selfish sometimes
-Have a few weird but serious hang ups about Formal Corporate Prayer, that I'm not going to talk about
Moving forward…

I have plenty of friends who do not identify as Protestant Christians. In my life I have had Catholic friends, Jewish friends, Buddhist and Hindu Friends, Muslim Friends, Coptic Christian Friends, Friends who identify themselves as Wiccan, Pagan, Atheist, "Spiritual but not Religious" and members of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster… I've known lots of people and hope to continue to do so for my lifetime.

A lot of my friends don't directly pray. A lot of my friends even if they don't share my religion, DO pray. But I'm not trying to exclude anyone that I know from doing their level best to help me when I need it.

And I truly, 100% believe in the power of people's positivity and good intentions to influence situations for the better. Even if my friend is not directly involved in the situation, even if my friend is not aware of the exact nature of the situation… I believe that just having someone in my corner is enough to make good things happen. Just knowing that I have a network of people who are willing to take literally just a couple of seconds to move air with my name in it in a positive fashion is enough sometimes to get me over hurdles or just to get me moving past hang ups I have in my life that I wouldn't manage well without this little bit of knowing.

Even just the idea that people SAY they'll do it (cause I know words sometimes grow hollow) is often enough. Even though I firmly believe that actual prayer and people's good intentions have tangible influence on the world, I also believe that the act of even setting your thoughts positively toward something for a moment, ends up making you a more positive person over all. So while their promise to pray or send good vibes or whatever may never come to fruition, if they sincerely meant it when they said it (like slapping a Band-Aid on a paper cut) it worked.

Anyway, all of this rambling was just to say that I frequently ask for any sort of positive intentions toward my life that I can get. And I frequently respond to people's requests for the same, with positive intentions or prayers of my own.

But really this entire Two-Part Post was just to slip a little personal history of religion in there. So, what? :)


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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