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Saturday, February 25, 2012

Question: How do you "prep" yourself for prayer?

OK, all of you "The Perfect Day" readers.  Here's a question for you from one of our anonymous readers:
"One of my own personal difficulties, in relating to prayer, esp. evening prayers, is that it's so hard for me to get into the frame of mind to pray in a way that I really feel close to Heavenly Father in closing out my day. I think it has to do mostly with 'well...I set out this morning with all these great ambitions and look how I didn't achieve it, again.' Is there anything you do to 'prep' yourself for prayer? I've tried reading my scriptures and singing hymns before I pray but for some reason those nightly prayers -- reporting back when I always have something that I've messed up on (even though there's good stuff in there too) -- are always harder to feel the closeness for me.

Just wondering what you think. How can I let go and prepare myself better to pray when every night I just feel disappointed in all the things I've done wrong?

Thanks,

M"
OK, my friends, let's ponder an answer to help M, and post replies via the "Comments" link below.

I look forward to reading your thoughts as soon as possible!

-- The Perfect Day

P.S.  If you have any more questions or comments you'd rather not post here, feel free to use the new "E-mail The Perfect Day" link to the right.

9 comments:

  1. As I have gotten older, my expectations of what I "should" have done with my day has changed. I am more aware of the things I did do, it may have only been walking the dogs or throwing one piece of paper away. I am so thankful for still being here to do something each day that I can't look at what I didn't do. My time is short and I want to concentrate on what I can do and what I can accomplish each day. Life is so beautiful, it holds so many wonders I missed when I saw and felt only the negative. My talks with Father are so precious to me and I know He loves me. I am grateful I can do more each day and don't worry about tomorrow.

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  2. My preparations for prayer have been different at different times of my life.

    I did not want my prayers to be trite repetitions without heart-felt substance, so I pictured God the Father sitting on His throne high above me, with me kneeling down at the base. This helped me hold a sense of awe and humility in my heart, and it helped me make my prayer more of a serious, sacred event. I later added another visualization to this one. I pictured the Savior kneeling behind me, almost enveloping me in His arms as he joined me in my prayer. When I closed "in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen" I imagined Christ pleading with his Father as he repeated "Amen."

    Yet another time, at a time when I felt that I needed a more personal God, I abandoned all of the usual formalities and special language of prayer, and just spoke the same way I would talk with a close friend. That prayer experience was one of the more spiritual ones I can remember.

    I have learned that it is very good to enjoy praying out loud during my personal prayers. On my mission, the only place with enough privacy to pray out loud was often on the roof of the building we lived in. Praying out loud under the stars was quite an experience. Other times, in a busy household full of people, I have retreated to the bathroom, turned on the fan, turned on the water, and knelt before "the throne" and voiced my prayers out loud quietly.

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  3. I have found that talking with the Lord in the morning and asking Him what He wants me to do today, has helped me to form a more useful list of what I need to do that day. I work full-time, have lots of grandkids that I babysit, callings, etc. just like most everyone else. I could have a huge list of "to do's" but have found that His list is the most important. When I have worked on His list, I have done the most important. Then, when I report back, I feel much more successful, knowing that I did what He felt was the most important. Sometimes He tells me to call one of my kids, or to send a quick note to someone. Usually the tasks are small, but ultimately very important. Sometimes He gives me a big task, like food storage for all my children, spouses and grandchildren. That one took a few years, but I could report on what I was doing in the process. And then I never felt frustrated when I had to give up something in order to do the Lord's task. And He is there to help and encourage and to provide miracles when needed to accomplish the task. Asking for what He wants me to do today, this week or this year has made a big difference in how close I feel to Him

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  4. Better late than never, eh? :o)

    It sounds like you're judging your performance each evening. But you're in luck: these are things I've struggled with, as well! ;o) Two thoughts:

    1) Christ is the only judge. And He has told us, over and over and over in scripture, that He isn't going to condemn us. Our God isn't one to shake His finger in our faces, or alienate us from His presence. Judgement, consignment to a certain distance from God, doesn't happen until Judgement Day. So you can let go of that judgemental spirit. (Or cast it out, if you prefer.) Self-condemnation (which includes disappointment in ourselves!) is one of the adversary's biggest, beefiest, most steel-studded bludgeons . . . and we take it from him and use it on ourselves with a will, thinking we're being good Saints as we do so. But I have GREAT news! Anything (and I mean ANYTHING) that keeps you from drawing closer to God is NOT of Him. And if something isn't of God, then it's either of men or of the devil. And we all know how effective those latter two are at bringing about salvation. ;o)

    2) Performance. This is a tough one, because it's so insidious, especially if you're a Latter-day Saint, or a member of another works-focused church. The Law of Moses was a law of performances and ordinances. And that law was fulfilled, down to the tiniest detail, by the sacrifice Jesus made: His perfect life, His atonement, His death, and His resurrection. He has broken the bands of death and SIN . . . and freed us from them. Period. End. It is done!!! And whenever I think of that, I want to jump and shout and sing, because I don't have to EARN my salvation. I don't have to perform to a certain standard in order to have the help of my Savior and Friend in this life. I have to have a willing heart, and then He will walk me through whatever comes next. It takes NO level of righteousness to "earn" access to the Lord Jesus Christ. Who did He hang out with, and often, during His life? Hated tax collectors for the oppressive government. Women who were sold to whoever wanted them. Sinners. He let all who wanted to come unto Him to come. He BID them come. "Come unto Me, all ye who are heavy laden, and I will give you rest!" And He still calls us today. Constantly. Every one of us. All the time.

    The grace of Jesus Christ means that He will be close to us AS we mess up, fall down, bloody our knees and noses, and blunder around through this life. He will heal our hurts, the injuries of those who we've hurt through our own actions, and help us give it another go.

    The next time you feel distant from God, for whatever reason, just stop. Stop and quiet your mind. Even if you're in the middle of a crowd, or there's a lot of distraction going on, you can quiet the inside of your own head, making stillness there. And listen. Listen with your spiritual ears for the sound of your name. Because Jesus is calling you. He's calling me. Every one of us, every second of every day, He's calling us back to Him. All we have to do is answer with a willing heart, and suddenly, He will be there. You can talk to Him, and share with Him, and He'll feel closer and closer as you continue to praise and thank Him for all you have. Then you can talk over what you need to work on, and He will take your hand, or gather you up into His amazing arms, and love you through whatever it is that you're going through.

    Don't give up. Just listen . . . He's there, waiting for you to turn your mind to Him!!!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for your encouragement, Annalea.

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  5. Annalea I so needed your words of conviction and understanding of our Father's love for each of us. Thank you for your faith in Him.

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  6. I guess I view my return and report time as repentance time too... it's a chance for me to make right what I have done wrong. To express remorse, recommit and then let it go to Him. There is a weight that is lifted when I really give it over to Him and feeling that I can go to sleep in peace and wake up burden free and clean the next morning. For me, that's the most refreshing part of my day, and often when Catch myself saying something unkind or having a mean thought I find myself looking forward to the night when I can really take care of it.

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  7. I have an overactive mind. I found it hard to pray in my head for a long time. I used to repeat lots of what I said. I did not always feel the spirit. Oh, and did I mention, I'm super forgetful.
    But, what I found helps with praying is writing letters to my Father in Heaven. I then write a response from Him. I call it my prayer journal.
    I have done this now for 2 years and I love rereading responses from Heavenly Father.

    He really hears all our prayers and He really answers all our prayers!!

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  8. I know Heavenly Father is perfectly omniscient as well as omnipotent. So when I kneel in prayer I picture Him in front or beside me as I discuss my highs and lows. I bring Him my desires to draw nearer to Him and know that He has the ability to help me in His infinite wisdom. I think knowing the attributes of Heavenly Father is key. Knowing He loves us more than anything also is a righteous preparatory framework for prayer as that always increases my faith in Him as I approach with my burdens and Thanksgiving. The best way to prepare for prayer, also, is to spend time on your knees praising Him. Use the scriptures as a guide on how to do that. We have countless examples of mortals and angels praising the Lord. It really brings a holy presence into prayer time, I have found.

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