Let's talk about prayer.
If that word makes you feel uncomfortable, or even a little bit confused, that's okay. If I'm being totally honest, two years ago I would've felt the same way.
It's hard to know how to talk to God, and something I've found along my spiritual journey is that it is mostly because of one of two things: You don't know Him too well, or you feel like you've messed up too much.
Of course, it could be a number of other things as well, but those are the two I've heard most often and experienced myself.
Growing up, I always heard the Thanksgiving/Christmas prayers at my family gatherings. You know, everyone gets in a circle and holds hands, we all close our eyes and bow our heads, and then one member of the family says a prayer over the food and the gathering in general.
Now, those are some of my favorite moments with family, but when I was younger, I always felt distant from God during those prayers. My mind would drift off and think about other things, and I just wanted to get it over with. I felt like a faker- an impostor.
This wasn't because I didn't care or because I didn't believe. I just didn't feel connected to Him, and that's okay. I just didn't know Him yet, and I felt like I couldn't join in on talking to someone who I didn't even really know.
Fast forward to the time I truly found the Lord, like my life did a 180 because I gave everything to Him. It was extraordinary, like becoming an entirely different human being. I'll have to write to you all about that another time. Anyway, that moment was no more than a year ago, and through my journey of getting to know Him in scripture and through different sermons, I felt an overwhelming desire to talk to Him.
Every time I think of it, I think of the song "Broken Prayers" by Riley Clemmons. In fact, go listen to that song right now if you're struggling to talk to God! It truly changed the way I prayed, and I haven't forgotten it since.
So, I got on my knees at the side of my bed, put my elbows on top of my blanket, and bowed my head with my eyes closed, just like I had seen in movies. And then, I just sat there.
I realized that I had no idea what was supposed to come next. "Dear Father"? "Hey, God"? I was frozen.
Then I just kind of whispered, "Hi."
And I went from there.
The incredible thing is that I felt so strongly the presence of the Lord in that moment when I whispered such an informal greeting.
He knew I was trying. He sensed that I was reaching out for Him. And you know what? He met me where I was.
The sad thing? That moment didn't happen again for almost two weeks. I was very infrequent with my prayers. I felt like I wasn't in any place to ask anything of God. I felt like He must hate me for how far I kept myself from Him and how close I stayed to the world and its sin. I never thought He and I would be close. Ever.
And it took time. I had to forgive myself, forgive those around me who might've wronged me, and even settle in my heart the times that God didn't step in when I felt like He should've.
I had to read scripture and truly study it. I had to talk to people further in their faith and really open up to them.
It wasn't easy, but please hear me when I say how worth it all of that truly was. Now, spending time with the Lord is my favorite thing to do.
Are there still times I'm far too infrequent? Yes.
Are there still moments I feel like a sinner not worthy of His ear? Yes.
Are there still prayers full of repentance and disappointment in myself? Absolutely.
We're all learning. Every single day. And that's okay. It's expected. Just know in your heart that personal prayers are powerful. If you reach out to God, He will meet you where you are. He will help you if you ask. You will find Him if you seek Him.
And remember: God wants ALL of you. Not just the pretty stuff. Not just the side of you who has scripture memorized and leads bible study every Wednesday.
He wants the you who is on the bathroom floor crying your eyes out because wow, life is hard. He wants the you who forgets He's there sometimes. He wants the you who gets angry and impatient and sad. He wants to take in all the curse words and all the lies and all the sin.
Because He wants to help you. He wants you to realize that Jesus Christ washed off the scarlet of your sin and made you white as snow. He wants you to let Him love you and help you find true joy.
So get personal with Him. If it's informal and imperfect, so what? It's a start. It's a step.
That's all it takes to embark on an incredible journey.