Lately, I’ve been reading The Pattern of Prayer by W.E. Sangster and Leslie Davison and it’s really been making me think, which is always dangerous! One of the things it’s caused me to reconsider is the way I undertake or set about praying. Since I started praying, it has been my habit to pray at night, right before falling asleep. Unfortunately, as I’ve gotten older and life seems to have become busier and more tiring, I’ve picked up the terrible habit of falling asleep as I pray.

Now, I believe that God would understand me doing this occasionally and perhaps I’m wrong in believing that, but I’m quite ashamed that it’s become a habit that happens rather often. Sangster and Davison’s book discusses the importance of our attitude when approaching prayer – how crucial it is to keep in mind that we are coming before and communicating with the triune God. He certainly deserves our deepest respect and utmost focus and attention. Falling asleep while speaking with Him doesn’t seem at all appropriate for the Lord of all creation, does it? It is with this new insight (it should be quite obvious, shouldn’t it?) that I’m seeking to set apart a regular and consistent time for prayer each day.

Besides my nightly prayers, I like to pray spontaneously – while walking, on the Metro, sitting outside or while driving. Two years ago, my car radio was stolen, but the blessing in this has been that my time in the car has turned into time spent talking to God. For that, I’m extremely grateful.

The second thing The Pattern of Prayer has brought to my attention is the importance of listening for the voice of God during prayer. This careful listening is something mystics and contemplatives have been focusing on for thousands of years. As in the story of Mary and Martha where Mary, the one sitting quietly at Jesus’ feet, is said to have “chosen the better part” (Luke 10:38-42), there is a time to act and a time to sit quietly with the Lord. Likewise, in prayer, there is a time to speak and a time to listen to what God has to say.

Being an extrovert and a talker, I think I have a hard time sitting quietly when there is so much I feel I need to get out. As a result, it has now become a goal to ensure I am not just rambling on when praying, but that I am also listening to hear that still, calm voice of God.

I’m sure that it will be difficult to change these bad habits of falling asleep while praying and rambling on, but I think the change will be extremely important. I’m also very interested to hear what others have to say about prayer and their experiences, so please post comments!

© 2009. Annabelle Peake. All rights reserved.

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