Prayer: My Story (Part 2)

21 Days of Prayer — January 13 to February 3
This month we are featuring interviews with SunRidgers highlighting their understanding and perspectives on prayer…

Charley’s Story

Who introduced you to prayer and how has your prayer life grown and changed over the years?
I grew up going to Sunday School, and my earliest memories of prayer are of acronyms to prompt and remind us how/what to pray and making crafts to go along with it - like writing TSP (Thank-You, Sorry, Please) on a teaspoon and wearing ALL the bracelets with the letters WWJD (what would Jesus do), FROG (fully rely on God) and PUSH (pray until something happens) :-)

I still find prompts helpful, as I often find it hard to pray anything when the busy-ness of life makes it hard to create that quiet space to come before God, but I have upgraded from Teaspoons to using other books/devos - my favourite by far is Celtic Daily Prayer - it helps me follow a regular rhythm of prayer in quiet moments carved out for that, but also reminds me not to miss spontaneous opportunities for praise/thanksgiving/requests/anything else that can be lifted up in prayer.

If someone were to ask you why you pray, what would you say?
There’s three answers for this that I wish I could give at the same time because they’re all equal contributors to why I pray - I pray because life doesn’t make sense without it and I need to - in both the praise moments and the struggle moments. I pray because God asks us to communicate with him and he loves it when we come to him. I pray because supporting those around me and being supported by those around me in prayer has been invaluable.

What are you learning about prayer?
It took me a long time to be sure of myself in how I pray, and have confidence that there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to pray. I have heard God in the still quiet moments I intentionally create, and I have heard God in the crazy-ness of leading a kids church creative prayer activity - I love that prayer can be and is in all of those different moments, no matter how we pray silently/out loud/by reading scripture/by singing praise or any other way.

Why do you think it is important to gather and pray together as a community?
In every area of society we learn from others and the church is no different - our children learn from us. Our friends newly introduced to faith learn from us. To praise alongside friends in celebration, and to cry out alongside friends in desperate places is something that has no comparable alternative in building community and pressing into relationship with God as One. There is power in community, and we are missing out on something if we don’t gather and pray together.

 

Nelson’s Story

Who introduced you to prayer and how has your prayer life grown and changed over the years?
I don’t remember who introduced me to prayer; it was probably in Sunday School, or private school Kindergarten, or my dad. I remember it being a formulaic thing, more of a chant or incantation that you said before certain activities (like before eating or a long road trip). I think as I got a bit older it expanded to being able to ask for things based on unwanted circumstances - like health for a sick family member. When I became a Christian in my late teenage years, I learned that prayer was more of a conversational awareness of God, that he was a friend you could talk to, and it was about more than just asking for things. Now I view it as a way to process thoughts and feelings with God, bring concerns before him, to repent and reorient my heart, and to acknowledge/praise him and his attributes.

If someone were to ask you why you pray, what would you say?
Largely as a “sounding board” but also largely in order to change the world around me. John Piper paraphrased the passage, “ask and you will receive; you do not receive because you do not ask” in a way that has stuck with me. He said of this verse that it is like God is saying, “if you had only asked me, I would have made the universe different” and that stuck with me.

Do you think it is important to gather and pray together as a community?
Yes, for two reasons. 1. Bringing our prayers to each other to bring before God helps build strong relationships and communities, because those require vulnerability and trust. 2. Scripture seems to imply that if more people are praying for something, God maybe more inclined to answer than if less people were praying for it.