So a funny thing happened to me during Lent.
Recently I’ve become more conscious, and in all honesty, frustrated with my prayer life. It’s not like learning how to play soccer or the piano, or mastering the perfect apple pie. Depending on one’s interests and upbringing, one may or may not develop the skills to do these activities well. By contrast, I assume praying is a fundamental skill most Christians should be good at. What worries me is that I feel like I lack those fundamental skills. If prayer is the primary way I should communicate with God, and if I can’t do it well, am I really a practicing Christian?
For Lent, I’m trying some new ways of praying thanks to some recommendations from fellow parishioners. I decided to start small for the first week; a free form, conversational approach for 5 minutes in the middle of the day. I set a timer on my phone, sat on the floor, closed my eyes, took a deep breath and prayed. I started with thanks, then went to humility. Raw humility. I verbalized so many unspoken feelings, experiences, reflections… I surprised myself. I also promised to try and listen to God, which I’d never prayed before. Every now and then I reminded myself not to feel anxious about the time; that I could connect with God for 5 whole minutes and the timer would go off when the time lapsed. I eventually peaked at the timer and realized I had prayed for an extra 15 minutes! My phone was on silent so it never made a sound!
Aside from my feet and ankles feeling numb, and worrying that I may have used up a few days' worth of prayer material, I felt happy. Like I really connected with God! Perhaps I felt a more meaningful connection during my prayer because I silenced the distractions in my mind and my environment and just focused on praying. On the other hand, the silent timer makes me wonder, "What messages am I missing if the receiver in my mind is on “silent” and I’m not receptive or trying to listen to God?"