I'm going to be pretty transparent here.
Well... I usually always am.
I never considered myself a "prayer." I normally just played it off like God didn't give me the gift of praying. Something like that.
Let me clarify- I can easily pray by myself but I always felt a little uncomfortable praying out loud in front of groups. Even just 1-2 people. I felt insecure and would stumble on my words.
I would hear other people pray and almost look up and open my eyes and gaze at them like, "DAAAAANG, GIRL KNOWS HOW TO PRAY!"
I would kind of get jealous when I would hear someone with such elequant prayers. They could make the most simple request or most simple praise and thanks to God sound like a choir of angels singing. It was so pretty, the words flowing like a melody out of their mouth. It seemed so simple to them. They didn't have to think hard, they didn't have to search for words- it was just such a natural overflow of their heart.
Yah... I was kind of jealous.
I felt like I foolishly stumbled through words, trying to think of something to say. And then I wanted to make it sound good too and so I would really start struggling as I tried to throw is some cool adjectives and some powerful catch phrases. Which then would trip me up even more. Then the awkward pause. Then my face gets red. It was all so silly.
I came to the point where I just accepted that this really wasn't my gifting. Praying out loud that is. I just wasn't "good" at it and I wasn't comfortable doing it.
Years past andmy hand stayed by my side when people would ask the question, "Who wants to lead us in prayer?" My lips stayed sealed until I was by myself and could foolishly fumble through my words by myself because at least there, no one was listening but God, and He didn't care how my prayers sounded. He only cared that I spoke with Him and spent time with Him.
But wait... if my prayers are for HIM, nothing else matters. Where I am, who I am with. Just as long as I am praying.
"For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
Gathering together in fellowship, in prayer, in worship- it's all for Him.
My prayers are to elevate Him, not me. My worship is to life Him up. Not me.
Nothing else matters. Not how poetic my prayer is or how smooth my words are. Just that I am speaking to Him and glorifying Him.
When I soaked that into my soul, things began to change.
Slowly but surely, I made changes in myself and took small steps to walk in confidence in my prayer life. Because it was all for Him. Not for me. Not about me.
I began to seek Him more. Not just His gifts, blessings, healing, provision, guidance. But Him. His presence in my life. My relationship with my Savior. Just giving Him the honor and praise for who He is in my life. Read the scriptures. Entire chapters and books just declaring the goodness of God and His grace.
I started to raise my hand when people asked if anyone wanted to lead prayer. Not every time, but every so often, I would stretch myself and pray out loud. Nothing extravagant, just a simple prayer raised to my King.
I began to agree out loud with other peoples prayers. Just speaking small words to audibly acknowledge and agreewith everyone's prayers being lifted up. I started to just speak my prayers out loud at home in front of my kids- declaring His greatness. When I gathered for coffee with friends or had a phone conversation, I purposed to pray out loud with them. When I said to someone, "I will pray for you." I stopped in my tracks and said, "Let's pray right now together" and did just that. Out loud.
Small steps and small practices to begin a more purposeful life of prayer. It was uncomfortable to me at times. It felt unnatural to what I had known. It think prayer should be a natural overflow of our lives and hearts so I really didn't like the fact that it felt unnatural to me, so I desired for that to change in me.
I wanted it to be totally normal and natural for me to whip out a prayer at any moment, no matter how it sounded. Nothing fancy, but just words spoken to God. My submission and action to surrender and speak to Him shows himself powerful and strong in my life. His power is manifested through my prayers.
And over time, things started to feel more natural. The more I prayed out loud, the more I sought opportunities to grow and expand my "prayer horizon," I felt the change happening. I wasn't always fumbling for words to say and I wasn't stuttering trying to come up with the perfect words to say. I was intentionally about letting the Holy Spirit speak through me. And if that means a pause in between my words and sentences, then I'm good with that.
That sounds so silly. That I was uncomfortable with pausing in my prayer.
But, that's reality, folks. It can get weird.
But basically, I was like- screw all the rules or what I thought a prayer should sound like. Or trying to sound like the motivational speaker. I'm going to just be me, even in my prayers. Awkward pauses and all.
And when I finally accepted that, God continued to do a work in me. And I have more confidence in my prayers. My focus is on Him and not what I sound like. And you know what, sometimes, my prayers actually don't sound half bad anymore. The more I practice prayer- the more I live out praying, the "better" I get at it. It's become more of a natural overflow of the Spirit in me.
My encouragement for you today is if you have ever felt a similar way- be it with prayer, worship, public speaking- whatever it is- start taking steps to conquer that. Invite the Lord into your life and into those times and let Him teach you and speak to you. And know that you are uniquely created you just as you are- so be you in all that you do. You are pretty awesome, just the way you are. So, don't try to be like anyone else.
Pray hard. Pray strong. Just pray.