How To Pray
I could tell you about every place in the Bible where someone prays. I could diagram their prayers, analyze them, and come up with some formula of how you ought to pray. I could tell you so many different strategies of how to stay focused while praying or of the things you should keep in mind while praying. I could also tell you all of the books ever written on prayer, and you could read them and understand them perfectly. But none of that would truly teach you how to pray. Those strategies, books, tips, and examples might help you feel a little bit better about how you pray and might actually change your prayer life for the better. They will not, though, teach your heart to pray. Only something very different than knowledge and the application of it will teach you to pray. I can't teach you how to pray--no one can--but I can tell you a story.
They fought. I didn't like when they fought. It made me shut my mouth and shut my eyes. I went to the only place I knew where to go: outside. Outside in the quiet, I could let my mind go somewhere else. I could think about something different. I didn't have to sit in the darkness that I was part of. When they fought when I was little, I went outside and imagined--and hoped so desperately--I was somewhere else. I thought of the song they would sing in that different place, and I sang that song to go to that land far away. I imagined that I would find a little necklace one day, and it would take me to that far away place where the water glistened at a place called Sky Pitcher and the green grass went on endlessly. That place where I went and got lost in . . . and lost for a few moments the thoughts of real life in . . . was Anelthalien.
They fought. A different "they" fought even more than before. It was still fighting, though, and it still made me want to run away to the only place I could. I went outside and I went to Anelthalien. The pain was deeper then, though. Just being in a beautiful place couldn't make all of real life go away. And so I talked to the only one I could.
The cause and effect of those fights was silence. I didn't talk because it stirred up more arguments. I didn't listen because it stirred up more hurt. I shut off from most everyone and found myself quite lonely. It was in the loneliness--in the feeling of knowing I had to but never could say what I felt to anyone without misunderstanding, resentment, or causing trouble--that I talked to God. I didn't really know I was praying then. I just needed to tell someone what unspeakable feelings I was holding, to be vulnerable to someone who would hold me, to give my heart to gentle hands. I really just needed someone . . . and no one was there except God. All I did was talk and tell Him everything. God listened. Then, when I had poured out everything, God filled my mind with what He wanted to tell me. He took me to Anelthalien and, instead of it just being a dream place, it was a place with stories that unraveled His love for me. It was a place where He met me at that water called Sky Pitcher, where we walked over every blade of grass as we talked for endless hours, and where He taught me that He loved me. It was somewhere far away and yet was something I could always have inside me.
That time with God taught me not "how to pray" but created in me a longing for the only one who could and would hear my every thought, understand my every feeling, and still let me be me. That time of loneliness taught me to long for God. Only a longing for God forged by the harsh lessons of life that teach you that you have absolutely nothing except God will create in you a desire to speak to Him endlessly. Nothing I could tell you could create a craving in you to talk to God at every second possible; only experiencing His love as your only love can. Only God's love can teach you how to pray.
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