This is me with a few of the kids from our church’s Cathedral Kid ministry getting ready to worship and pray at camp.
This Prayer technique developed for me during the season of pregnancy, labor, and lack-of-home-ness. In the past 3 years we’ve had 2 kids. We’ve had roofs over our heads, but not a home of our own for the last year. In other words, this has been a season where prayer has been essential. I thought I’d share how I like to pray and how I teach the kids in my ministry to pray too.
Think of this practice as a chiastic structure, where each step is essential.
Part 1: “The second commandment is equally important, love your neighbor as your love yourself”
1. Listen to yourself
a. Set a timer for 60 seconds. Take one full minute to sit still in silence. Try to breathe.
2. Understand yourself
a. Write down on a piece of paper the main thoughts that occupied your mind during that time of silence. What worried you? What felt out of your control? What feelings were alive in you?
3. Respond to yourself
a. Take a moment to care for your body. Stretch, breathe deeply, reflect on what you’ve eaten, how you’ve slept, and if you can, take a short walk outside.
Don’t stop here. Step one only prepares yourself to listen.
Part 2: “Love the lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength…”
1. Say thank you.
a. Write down as long a list as you can of what you are thankful for.
b. Now go deeper, write a paragraph on why you are so grateful for one of the things from your list.
2. Remember who you are talking to.
a. Listen to the noises in the room, how it smells, how your seat feels under you. Think of where you are located in your building, then your street, then your city, then your state, then the country, then the continent, then the world then the universe. You are in the presence of the creator of the universe.
b. Picture Jesus with you. How is he sitting or standing? What expression is on his face?
3. Turn from Sin. Turn to God.
a. In light of the greatness of God and His intentions for humanity, is there anything in your life, in your heart, in your relationships, in your workplace, the way you vote, the wat you’re spending your money, where your thoughts have been that are out of line with God’s best intended life for you?
b. Ask God’s forgiveness. Trust that God is powerful enough to forgive you. Set your heart back on Jesus.
4. Trust God; Ask for help.
a. Based on the worries that most occupied you in part 1, ask God for help, knowing that he loves you, he wants to help you, and he is capable of helping you.
a. Set aside time just to listen to God. Listen in the way that is most helpful for you. Listen while walking, listen while playing a worship song, listen with a pen in hand and blank sheet of paper in front of you.
Don’t stop here. Step two only prepares yourself to obey, change, and grow.
Part 3: “Love your neighbor as you love yourself”
1. Act on what God has told you to do
2. Keep Listening and involve your community- you are not alone!
a. The 10 commandments are not a suggestion, be involved in your church community, honoring the Sabbath day so you have the support you need to follow God.