Prayer used to be easy.
I can remember how quickly and easy conversations with God used to come. As a child I would talk to God every night as I fell asleep. I would climb up into my treehouse and talk to God. I would talk to God while I played with my G.I. Joe action figures or while I rode my bike around the driveway.
I would talk to God about my day at school. I would talk to God about what I hoped being a grown-up would look like. I would pray for my dogs or I would ask God to help me find a toy that I had lost. As the youngest child in my family by 8 years, God was like my invisible friend. God was my constant companion who would always offer an open ear for whatever felt significant to me.
Over the years everything has become a lot more challenging. I've prayed fervently for people in dire situations to be healed on mission trips that never happened. I've prayed for friends and family members who never recovered. I've prayed for signs and clear directions that have never come.
The simplicity of prayer has been replaced by the complexity of life.
Prayer used to feel like stepping into a warm bath and now it feels like stepping out onto a high wire.
It's enough to make me want to avoid it altogether. I'd prefer to read about God, talk about God and think about God instead of engaging with God. What used to feel so safe now feels really uncertain.
Over the years I've learned that my story isn't unique. Maybe some of you have had a similar journey with prayer. I truly hope it is a powerful and ongoing part of your life, but if it's not, have we got a new message series for you!
We want to acknowledge all the complexity and potential difficulties with prayer while learning more about the varied contemplative practices of people around the world and throughout time. I hope you'll join us with an open mind and an open heart for what prayer and contemplation could be. I know I'm preparing to be stretched and challenged for the 6 weeks we travel through this series.