If prayers are supposed to be conversations we are having with God then our prayers will have the kind of variety we find in our conversational lives. When not praying, our conversations throughout the day may include stories told, small talk about the weather and the strain of the everyday, the next thing that is on our schedule, who is picking up the kids, the news of the day, or a listing of our deepest failings and desires.
For the most part, no one questions if we are doing conversation right we just do it in all its differing forms. Yet, when we get to prayer we worry that we are not doing it right. We obsess over how to pray and the words we use and the order of the phrasing and kick ourselves for our lack of eloquence or creativity. This needs to stop.
The best thing we can do for our prayer life is to add variety to it and include all different kinds of prayers and modes of praying. This will snap us out of the rut of doing it one way and see that God desires for us to communicate with him and to Grow Up in him. That Growing Up can happen through a centuries old prayer from a monk in the Middle Ages, a recitation of our favorite worship song, or just muscling up the ability to say, “help me” over and over. It all counts as prayer.
There are as many ways to pray as there are ways to greet someone. I am a fan of some long written out prayers, of short prayers that I can easily memorize, of simply listening, of lament, of praise, of the Psalms, of reciting scripture, of journaling, of shaking my fist at God. All of these I have done and all of these count as prayer.
My only word of instruction is to try to address God in your prayer in some way. One of my only critiques of my own prayer life is that at times they have been just “worry with wings” and I have simply listed my daily concerns and didn’t intentionally address them to God. There is nothing wrong with that but I think Jesus’ example shows that we are to address our father and church history shows that we can address the members of the trinity (Jesus, and the Holy Spirit) as well. But the style, form, function, and attitude we take to prayer can be varied and should be varied.
Today, observe the ways that you converse with those around you and all the different forms of conversation and of addressing people and topics. Start to bring some of that variety to your prayer life. Have small talk with God, thank him for the candy bar you just ate, meet with him about the project you are working on, say you are sorry, seek his advice, write a quick note to him, and really listen to him. God has provided so many ways to communicate with him so quit limiting yourself and embrace the variety found in prayer.