The only way to learn to pray is to pray.
Not boring prayers. Not same old same old prayers.
Heartfelt, fervent, whole being prayers that grip your being.
Engaging with the Holy Spirit will lead you to express your inner man in ways that sometimes feel unnatural or unfamiliar to you. Your flesh will kick against God’s ways because they don’t always fit with what’s comfortable.
This is why it’s important to play. To experiment. To joyfully explore.
Instead of getting hung up on rights and wrongs, jump in the sandbox and have some fun. Go to places you wouldn’t normally go, secure in the knowledge that the Holy Ghost is there to train you.
In fact, it’s often the most uncomfortable and unfamiliar expressions of devotion that crack open fresh revelations and breakthroughs. Some noisy people need to learn the beauty of silence. Naturally quiet people need to let their inner lion roar.
Each expression is another tool you can use when the time is right, times when it really matters. Becoming familiar with the tools and technologies God has equipped you with through intentional experimentation is how we grow comfortable and gain insight and skill so we are ready when the time comes for real spiritual engagement.
Here are some playful experiments you can explore:
If you are generally a very quiet, reserved pray-er, I urge you to find somewhere appropriate and get loud. Very loud! Shout out your prayer, cry your concerns, bellow your praises.
Scripture says that Jesus often prayed with “strong crying”. These were not polite politically correct prayers designed to upset no one and cause no ripples. They were a storm of passionate faith unleashed from His heart.
“Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared” (Hebrews 5:7 KJV)
Human flesh is by nature timid and fearful. It whoops and hollers at a sports game, but simmers to an icy chill in the prayer meeting.
Crush that tendency to polite praying, and wholeheartedly engage in thunderous experimentation.
Exodus 15:3 says:
“The LORD is man of war.”
And again in Isaiah:
“The LORD shall go forth as a mighty man, he shall stir up jealousy like a man of war: he shall cry, yea, roar; he shall prevail against his enemies.” (Isaiah 42:13 KJV)
There is a time for this ferocious nature to be expressed!
In the same way that Scripture encourages loudness, it also leads us by the still waters of solitude and silence. The spectrum of expression in prayer is broad and beautiful.
“Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10 KJV)
Taking time for the flurry of daily life to simmer down and the inner life to settle into quietness will carry you to places no amount of activity can carry you.
It’s easy to fall in to the nervous trap of always thinking something must be said. Our flesh crawls at the thought of solitude. Silence forces introspection and the natural man prefers to keep things on the surface.
Set time aside, significant enough to get through the discomfort you might feel, and simply “be” before God,
Don’t wrestle you mind, let the thoughts come and go. The key to silent delight is not to fight, not to strain. Effort stirs the waters and makes them murky again.
As time passes the kicking and screaming of your fleshly mind will subside and a peace that passes understanding will take its place.
In the silence God can speak.