Saturday, October 26, 2013

Unlearning the Formula

I do a lot of work in Excel at my job. I use a lot of formulas and connect pages and it's all very exciting. You think I'm kidding, but truthfully, in a nerdy way, it is sort of exciting. What's exciting is when I figure out the formula, when I get pages to link to other pages and workbooks to link to other workbooks and it all connects and gives me an end result. Once I've figured out the formula, I don't really have to do much thinking...I just plug in the numbers. Without the right formulas, none of it would work. 

I recently came across a book by a well known author, one whose teachings and books I love and look forward to reading. The book was on how to increase your prayer life...how to make it more effective by using this formula that she came up with, and journaling each day for like 60 days or something.  It was an ingenious little acronym.  I don't remember what all it included.  All I know is that when I thumbed through the book (as best as one can thumb through a digital version), I started to feel anxious. I just couldn't! 

I've heard of these things before. A well known one is ACTS.  Adoration (or was it Acknowledgement?), confession, and I don't remember the rest. I never made it past those two. 

Some people greatly benefit from this kind of praying. But not me. Like working in Excel, it would be work for me to figure out how the formula works, but once I've figured it out, all I'd be doing is plugging in my prayers. It's too routine, too rote for my personality. 

I think that personality plays a huge part in how we interact with God. I respect this author, but I don't think that type of praying, and that kind of book is for every personality-it certainly isn't for me. If I feel I have to journal, I have to follow the formula, I won't benefit. And I certainly won't do it. Then, I might feel like I've failed. And that would draw me away from God, not closer to Him.

I'm a creative person, and my favorite way to communicate with God is through music. I may write a worship song, or I may hear a song and stay on that song for days. I'm truly worshiping God through that song. I may even be interceding for someone through that song. Or I may be lamenting through that song. I also see God in nature and often commune with Him by being outside, in the woods, or by the ocean (repeat from yesterday...not worshiping nature, but the Creator).

Obviously, I write this blog daily. My writing and research time sometimes ends up being a study on a particular phrase or word. I even read my own blog when it's delivered in my mailbox when I wake up. It ministers to me. I might pick up a book that I'm reading that is filled with scripture on a specific topic that interests me at the time. Just because I'm not reading "My Bible" doesn't mean I'm not immersed in God's Word. I am. It's just not a formula.

Some people get up hours before they start their day and pray/intercede...whatever. I can't do that. In the back of my mind is, "What time is it? I need to shower/make breakfast/take care of dogs/pack lunch etc. so I'm not late for work." I start my day reading some sort of devotional or scripture in bed on my Kindle and I am plugged in to God all day long! It's not about following a formula---it's about following Jesus!

In Matthew 6:7, Jesus gave his disciples instructions on when they pray... when you pray, do not keep babbling, like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. (that would be me, if I tried the 5am thing...unless I fell asleep first). He also told them how to pray: Our Father in heaven...you know the rest, right? Not to diminish the Lord's Prayer, but for the sake of time and space...He didn't say, get up at 5am and pray for an hour, then worship in song for another hour; he didn't say, after you pray this prayer, journal. He didn't have a fancy acronym. He basically gave them simple guidelines on what to pray for-acknowledge Him, petition him, confess to Him, ask for forgiveness, and ask for protection. I have no fancy acronym because that would make it into a formula. As far as I'm concerned, there is no right or wrong way. He just wants us to pray. Period.  

If formula praying works for you, great. If you like acronym type praying, to help you remember what to do, to help jumpstart your praying, go for it! But we need to be careful not to think that we know what's right for someone else, when half the time we don't even know what's right for us! Let's not judge the way someone else prays. That's why God made us all so different! Let us rejoice in our differences!

Blessings Along the Path,
Mary

Pray (Sanctus Real)



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