As I might mention off and on, I have OCD tendencies. Some things must be perfect, or not at all. This doesn't apply to others, only to myself. It doesn't affect everything, but enough. What is one of the things we wish to be perfect in? Prayer. We are talking to our Master, our Father. Only He is perfect. I sometimes struggle in prayer, especially in the past. I thought I had to pray a certain way, or with certain words. When I couldn't meet that standard I placed upon myself, I would give up and move on. This didn't just impact my prayer life, it impacted many areas of my life: parenting, friendships, relationships, health, work. I have to learn to accept in some areas, imperfect is still good enough. But in prayer, I sincerely wish to pray the perfect prayer; while it may be impossible, I never want to quit striving for perfection, but accept that it's a process, and that no matter how hard I try, I will always be imperfect.
For many years, I prayed rarely, unless I needed something. Even then, I thought since it was less than perfect prayer, it wasn't good enough. I would quit.
My mistake? Praying with my human mind, instead of my heart and soul. Close your eyes and talk to Him. If you want to use a prayer such as the Our Father, that is wonderful. Maybe that’s all you can do. I encourage everyone however to speak freely with the Lord, without being irreverent.
A talk I heard recently on the radio talked about prayer, and it made me think of how I can pray better.
- First, praise Him.
- Next, thank Him.
- Third, ask forgiveness.
- Fourth, give Him your problems.
- Then, listen.
If your mind is scattering thoughts like dandelion seeds inside your head, try this: “God, I love you. God, I praise you. God, I thank you. God, forgive me.” Say each phrase with each breath; one word breathing in, two, three, four words breathing out. It’s my prayer circle. I could say, “I love you, God.” I actually did, the first time, but it turned around in that circle, putting God first. God is first, not me. It has no beginning and no end (does that sound familiar?). As it loops around, it cleanses those dandelion seeds, and leaves behind what is important: God.
The first time I did this, I wasn't asking God for a thing, not even an answer for my questions. A lightning bolt struck! I suddenly understood what something meant! I hadn't even pondered the question that day; I knew I would get the answer, but thought it would be when I met with my pastor. So I had put it aside. But He didn't. He chose that moment when I was doing nothing more than loving Him. I did this while resting. (I used to watch the TV before falling asleep; prayer is so much more fulfilling!) I was exploding with Joy! I called out to my husband, and told him of the answer God had given me. I had tears in my eyes; I’m still so excited when He touches me; I hope that I always will be. I was no longer tired at that moment. I was sure I wouldn't be able to nap, but I continued to rest and pray my circle. I fell asleep quickly, especially considering the energy inside my soul. I also had a wonderful 30 minute nap.
Sometimes, you don’t even need words. Recently, I shared on a message board a wonderful experience with a stranger and the Holy Spirit. One of the replies blew me away; through the essay I wrote, God answered one of her prayers, and quite directly! It was a miracle that of the millions of Catholics in the world, and a lesser amount on the internet, let alone on this particular site and message board, she chose that day to read that story. I couldn't speak. I couldn't think. I couldn't put a word together. I closed my eyes, and my heart prayed. My soul prayed. That was as close to perfection as I think I can get. Thank you, Jesus.