Prayer is relationship
Consider the elements that contribute to a healthy relationship: you might think, for instance, that time should be invested, not only doing things together but simply being together; you might suggest that listening is important, each person being truly heard by the other; you might want to say that complete transparency and honesty are essential. Make a list of the five or six most important elements. Now ask yourself, what is the place for this in my relationship with God?
Prayer is trust
Take some time to reflect on your walk with God over the past 12 to 24 months. Ask yourself where are the high spots where you have truly trusted God, and where are the low spots, where you have given way to fear? What made the difference? What can you do to see fear expelled? Try noting in a journal the things you have said and done that might be construed as being born out of fear – then, on another page, those things born of trust. Do you see a pattern in the difference between the two? Are there ways you can shift the balance from being fearful to trusting?
The empty chair
Therapists sometimes use a technique of recreating a conversation you have had in the past by asking you to talk to an empty chair, imagining that the person is there in front of you. Try doing the same for a while with God. Rather than praying to a God “somewhere out there”, imagine God on a chair beside you. What do you want to say?
If you have struggled in recently to find time to pray, take a literal walk with God. If possible, walk somewhere where people will not think you crazy for talking to yourself. Book some time: two hours; a morning; a whole day and talk to God as you walk. Shout at him if you have to; cry if you need to. Imagine him asking you “So how is life going for you?” and “How do you feel about that?” and “What would you ask me if nothing was considered off limits?”
Table for two
A few years ago we created a prayer installation in the church on the day of the village fête. Part of it consisted of a table, laid for two, with a jug of juice. Each person was invited to take a seat, pour themselves a drink and dine with Jesus. Given such an invitation, what would you talk about?
Letters of love
If you sometimes find it hard to talk to Go, write to him. Write, “Dear God ...” and then say what you've been trying to say. Explain yourself; ask your questions; express your feelings. Sign off with love, then seal the letter and set it aside. Three months later, read it and ask, “Did God answer?”
His prayer – your prayer
Use the words of the Lord's prayer as your framework for prayer. After each phrase, simply pray about the things that come to mind. If you run out of time, write some of the things down to pray about later. Come back daily to the list. Pray daily; ask daily; forgive daily; seek guidance daily. Let the categories sparked by the Lord's Prayer become the categories in which you pray: use the filing cabinet Jesus designed for you because he knew that you would need one ...