I guess those of us who do things like praying all have our own way, so ‘how I personally pray’ is probably a better title for this post. Usually, I am in some kind of conversation with an outer deity or intercessor. That’s silly to some, I know, but if I could write a fat cheque and have delivered to my address all the things I want (and not just material things) then I would have the proof that I am in charge, would ditch the divinity thing. Because I am not my own god I do this:
My prayers are often pretty hurried but the pattern is usually the same.
1) I say a prayer of thanksgiving – yeah, first things first, including all the praise and adoration, as in ‘Dear God I am still standing, if I was sure I had given myself life I would have no need for you, you have to be good to have bothered with me.’ And so on, including gratitude for things big and small. Prayers for friends and foes that make me grow are included here.
2) Then I move on to some kind of prayer of contrition: Oh-oh, I forgot to do that; ooops, I should not have done that, etc.
3) Next on to the prayers of intercession, praying for others as they come to mind or when I remember those I offered to pray for.
4) And then, and then indeed, I ask for things for myself. In the earlier phases of my life, I never used to do that, but later I came to understand my not asking was a form of pride or vanity – as in, ‘I’m so self-sufficient I don’t need to ask God for anything, he’ll give anyway. Only weak and needy people beg.’ Precisely – I came to learn just that truth. Weak and needy people beg.
Something to note: To say I give thanks and praise first and then I ask for things for myself does not mean I am being manipulative. It’s not that I think I can outsmart the super smart, as in set God up with fulsome praise and empty flattery and then when I believe I have my god good and properly charmed, I pounce and try to persuade the object of my worship to hand over even the skin off his back.
My pattern of praying is that all my other types of prayers come before my pleading for me personally. And then, as in after all the kids have been fed, the guests made comfy, the aged parent attended to, you try to find some time for yourself. And then I worry about my needs, ask for things for myself with fear and trembling, because refusal, rejection, humiliation, loss, contempt, or silence…well, God is good. Hearing “No” is also humbling and beneficial and a motivator to learn how to be more resourceful and how to love without reason or reward. I often ask, in the category of my personal petitions, things for others that bring me joy, so the prayer is really my self-interested ask.
How do you prayer? I suspect us adults with responsibilities are rather much alike – we’re last on our list.