- The feeling or expression of reverence and adoration towards God
- a solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God
These are the two spiritual disciplines that I focused on this past week. While they are in fact two separate disciplines, for me they are so entwined that I decided to focus on them as if they were one. I have much more experience with these two spiritual disciplines than I did with the previous discipline of meditation, so while I found this week easier I’m not saying that it didn’t come with its difficulties. If you continue reading you’ll get an honest first-hand account of how my week of prayer and worship went:
I once again woke up at 5:30am today, and in an effort to continue with what I had learned last week I meditated for 10 min before I headed into prayer. Now some people are able to sit in silence for hours on end and have deep prayer times with God, I am one of those people. I get distracted or caught up in my head very easily, so when I pray I have to sit on a hard uncomfortable surface so that I don’t fall asleep. I have also found that writing out my prayers not only helps me to focus, but it also allows for me to look back and see how God has been moving in my life.
There are many different forms of prayer as well as ways to pray. Since I’m not an expert on prayer by any stretch of the imagination I won’t try to explain them all to you. What I will explain to you however is one form of prayer that I have practiced for the past couple of years. Instead of typing out detailed instructions (because prayer is a personal conversation, not a formula to be followed) I’ll just give you a rough outline of what it could look like:
Adoration (being in awe of all God has done), Confession (confessing and seeking forgiveness for our sins), Renewal (receiving the unrelenting forgiveness and grace of God), Petition (bringing our needs before God), Intercession (bringing others needs before God) and, Affirmation/Thanksgiving (thanking God for all he does in our lives and for hearing our prayers)
Once I had prayed, I listened to worship music as I started to get ready for the day. Sometimes I think that we dress up worship too much. We think that is has to be a Sunday morning service all of the time; that it has to be big and bold and moving otherwise God won’t hear or see our worship. But the truth is that worship can be anything that we do. From leading a worship team to cleaning our houses, it’s not what we do but the state of our heart that we do with that constitutes worship. If we do everything with the intention of honouring God and bringing him glory then we can worship him in all that we do. From singing and dancing, to baking, to sitting in the quiet and lifting our hands and hearts to God. Worship isn’t some fancy thing that can only be done once a week, it’s an everyday thing. An ordinary jean wearing festivity.
I do not sing well, and so the only times that I will sing is either in a large group where no one can really hear me or when I am totally alone. However I have found great solace in worshiping at the top of my lungs while washing the dishes (and I apologize to anyone who happens to be around when I do this). I believe that God enjoys all types of worship his people offer up to him…even the incredibly out of tune kind. He doesn’t care what your act of worship looks like so long as you’re doing it to bring him glory and to show your devotion to him.
I also wrote out the book of Philemon, which some of you might find a little strange. I mean after all it’s in the Bible already so why would you go through the effort of hand writing it again? Well this is a practice that I first picked up in Bible school when we had to hand write one of the gospels for a final project; and what I realised was that we skim over so much when we just read the Bible. But when you are writing it out you are forcing yourself to pay closer attention to the words and the sentences and the paragraphs. You get to see a deeper layer of the passage that you might have missed before by just reading it. So that’s why I write out books of the Bible, to get a deeper understanding of the passage and also to get a glimpse of what it was like in the early church when they hand copied the different books of the Bible.
Sometimes praying is hard. We can’t find the right words, or our heads and our hearts are at war with each other so we can’t focus, or maybe we simply don’t know what to pray. Thankfully we aren’t alone in this feeling of wordlessness. Everyone who has ever tried to pray has felt this exact same way at one point or another, or is feeling this way right now. What’s great though is that even if we don’t have the words to pray, someone else does. For centuries people have been praying…and then writing down their prayers. Luckily for us those prayers were then published into books which we can now read. I can’t count how many times I’ve been at a loss for words but then have been able to find my voice through someone else’s. There’s something so inexplicably beautiful about prayers from centuries past; about the fact that humans all through the ages have struggled with the same things and that while the words may change we have all prayed the same prayers.
Today I did a one hour experiment in prayer*. This is also something that I first did in Bible College and have since continued to do. I have taken the prayer guide from a book called Sacred Chaos by Tricia Rhodes (which I recommend if you are interested in finding ways to incorporate spiritual disciplines into your everyday life). These one hour prayer sessions always help me to centre my mind on God before the business of the day takes over, and setting aside one hour specifically for prayer helps me to focus on what’s important…God.
I was planning on doing a three hour experiment in prayer today (also from the book Sacred Chaos) but it just didn’t happen. Time gets away from you and unless you really plan out and set aside time for something like this it’s easy to push it off saying “I’ll have time later”. However I did do something called an open hands prayer. Which in reality is less of a specific prayer and more of a posture of prayer. Essentially what it is is that while you’re praying you have your hands laying open in your lap. This is a posture that shows that you are open to what God has for you. You can also do this by first making a fist and imagining that you are holding onto something in your life that you know you need to give over to God. Then as you pray and release it to God you open your fist and turn you empty palms up to receive God’s love for you. This sounds easy to do, but I’ll be honest that sometimes the releasing of the fist is a whole lot harder when you actually put it into practice. But the essence of prayer is to relinquish up to God what was never ours in the first place and to receive from God more than we could ever imagine.
The Take Away
The purpose of this week of prayer and worship was to get my heart into a state where I could glorify my Creator in every aspect of my life. I wanted to get to the point where I was in a constant position of prayer and where my actions where reflection of my reverence and awe towards God. I am by no means anywhere near that goal, but I like to think that I am at least heading done the right path towards achieving it.
Will I continue to practice prayer and worship? Yes. I plan on setting aside time this coming week for the three hour experiment in prayer; but I also aim to pray/worship all throughout my day, not just at dedicated times.
Would I recommend it for others? 100% yes! Even if you don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to it, try to pray a little bit each day. It could be on your drive to work, while you’re getting ready in the morning, or even while you’re brushing your teeth. There are moments all throughout the day when we can offer up a quick prayer to God. I also encourage you try and create in yourself the mindset of worshiping God through all that you do; not just the Sunday morning things but also the Tuesday afternoon things. And if you can try and look up some prayers from people who lived several hundred years ago. Write them out on cards and tuck them inside your Bible for those times when you just can’t find the right words to say.
Remember that worship isn’t just for special occasions, it’s meant to be a part of your ordinary blue jeans life too.
So the second week of spiritual disciplines has come to an end, and tomorrow I take on my third (and probably most challenging) one…silence.
*Find the instructions for this under the Resources tab at the top of the page