Monday, 4 November 2013

What was I Praying?

Let’s be honest - we all find prayer difficult at some point in our lives, and for many different reasons.

If you were like me, you were brought up in a church where great value was placed on how long you prayed for in a morning - to rise early and spend at  least 30 minutes with God. (Subtext to that - “but an hour makes you a better Christian”)

Prayer meetings all had a similar flavour, where ancient worthies would pray for over 10 minutes using beautiful language - but some of which I couldn’t understand. I couldn’t listen/concentrate for that long and I couldn’t live up to this expectation.

I did pray out loud once as a teenager: A bunch of us who played badminton on a friday night with our church youth group would take ourselves off for half an hour to pray for our “non Christian friends”. I prayed for a guy I’d met through my Saturday job - apparently my prayer didn’t quite hit the mark. It took a very long time to pluck up the courage to pray out loud again! No one seemed to place any worth on the fact I valued prayer enough to actually be there rather than stay and play an extra game of badminton!

Whilst we’re being honest, we probably need to say that some of us just don’t have the concentration to cope with praying long public prayers or trying to pray for 30 minutes at a time (especially in the morning). And it’s not just those with Attention Deficit Disorder!

There are some who can do all this - but I suspect that this is often more down to personality than it is to being an uber-amazing Christian. It’s at this point I usually get shouts of ‘Heretic - burn her’! (Or the modern-day evangelical equivalent)

I totally agree that without prayer and without time to study God’s word our faith would just sink. It is vital to our survival.
But if you have one of many chronic illnesses, it can be quite hard to do what well meaning Christian teachers tell us we should do.

There are many conditions that make first thing in the morning the worst time to pray and read, there are conditions that make concentration hard  too.

For example, one of the conditions I have has an associated problem that can affect concentration, memory, the ability to put sentences together and being able to remember exactly what you were saying by halfway through that sentence. You can blank out very quickly too!

I’ve chatted to others with similar issues who not only struggle with quiet times/prayer, but also the guilt laid on them because they can’t ‘do prayer like they’re supposed to’. They are adults, teenagers and children. And it is for them I’m putting together a series of blogs on praying when you can’t concentrate for long. I hope that some of the info will also be useful for Children’s leaders who want to do more praying with their groups.

The truth is, over many years the 'church' has added to the rules of praying. We've put these rules on to new Christians for all the best intentions - we want to make sure the habit of prayer is formed early. 

It's a great aspiration!

But we forget the God has made us all with different personalities, and not all of us can follow this prescribed way of praying.

I was really helped by a comment by a friend in my home group. He said "Prayer is about my relationship with God, not what I ask for". If we pray, and our relationship with God grows, does it really matter how we get there?

For me, I am so thankful to now have people around me who just ‘get’ how I have to function. They appreciate my ‘constant conversation’ approach to prayer. Plus I’m grateful for those who work with me and never judge me if I don’t pray during those necessary early morning prayer meetings at camps and conferences - just because my speech jumbles in the early morning. 

I love those early morning prayer meetings…. I’d just rather not try to pray out loud!


  1. Thanks Kay it's so good to read this from someone who gets it how I function at times. This probably doesn't read well but I think you'll get it. Sue R xx

  2. You have put my thoughts into words - thank you! It's really unhelpful to be judged by people that really don't take the time to understand the way your body / mind works and consider you 'less of a Christian' by the way you pray!


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