Yesterday, I wrote about being intentional with my faith, and touched on how it is often a struggle because of the religion in which I was raised. If faith has been a struggle, prayer has been next to impossible. The fear of doing it wrong is paralyzing. That may sound silly to some of y’all, but when you grow up being told that if you do it the wrong way, God will punish you…that does quite a bit of damage. This isn’t a therapy session, so I won’t get into all of the nitty-gritty. Let’s just all agree that it isn’t healthy and it has some serious long term effects.
Even now, I find myself so afraid that I’m going to do it wrong. That my prayer isn’t going to be a “good” one or the “right” one and that if I don’t say the right words, God will be angry, and ultimately that all circles back around to not being worthy enough to get into Heaven. (See? I’ve been telling you it’s a messed-up religion. Is it any wonder I have issues with “organized” religion?)
My head knows that’s not true. My head knows that there is no right or wrong way to pray. My head knows that I just need to do it, that even if words can’t come, God can still hear me. He knows my heart and He loves me, even if I’m stumbling over words or not praying about the “right” thing.
But getting the rest of me to get on board with what my head knows is a struggle, at best. I usually find myself feeling like my words aren’t adequate because it doesn’t sound like a minister’s would, that I’m not praying about the right things, or my posture isn’t the way it’s supposed to be. And then I just stop. It’s better to not do it at all than to do it wrong and risk having God angry. (Not rational, I know, Internet, but that’s why it’s called brainwashing.)
I’ve been trying to change that, but I always seem to find myself reverting back to the way of thinking I knew for so long. The only way to break those chains is to be intentional about prayer. To pray through the feelings of inadequacy and fear and error, knowing that God is on the other side of those prayers, as messy as they may be.
I just recently purchased (and received over the weekend!) these fabulous prayer journals from Val Marie Paper. I am in love with them and they are perfect for helping me feel like I can be focused and intentional about prayer, which helps tremendously in feeling like I’m not doing it “wrong.” I’m excited to get started with them in January and you can bet there will be an update somewhere along the way about them. (I wasn’t compensated in any way for this endorsement. I found and purchased these journals of my own volition. Val Marie doesn’t even know I’ve blogged about them!)
I know these aren’t going to be the cure for the lifetime of damage done previously, but it’s a start. It’s a start to being intentional. And that’s what God asks of us. He asks that we start. Just start and be intentional about it, and He will meet us there.
This post is part of the 31 Days of Intention series. You can see other posts in this series here.