It went something like this:
It took me about ten seconds to say this prayer from beginning to end, and I couldn’t fall asleep if I didn’t pray it; I believed that if I didn’t say this prayer, my family and all my loved ones would be open to any and all horrific events waiting to pounce on our unprayed heads.
Praying was my safety net.
I prayed this prayer each night until I considered myself too old to pray myself to sleep. As I grew older, I prayed for only the things I wanted, usually under desperate circumstances: Please God let me get an A on this test; please God let there be no school tomorrow; please God don’t let me get in trouble; please God don’t let them find out about this; please God keep us safe.
Then somewhere along the line I felt bad for using God; I was praying, but rarely thanking. I was asking, but rarely giving. I felt demanding and hypocritical, and stopped praying altogether. I stopped praying at a time when I could have used a safety net more than I’d like to admit.
As an adult, I started praying again as I went back to church and learned again that God is always there for each of us. Even then I only prayed for things that I felt were important, and usually only at the bequest of others: Please God take away her cancer; please God show him your light; please God save this baby. I still didn’t pray for myself much, and most certainly I didn’t ask God for minor things like finding my keys or having enough money to pay all the bills. I figured that was my responsibility, and why bother God with my personal nonsense?
Then I started reading the Bible. I read that God wants us to pray throughout the day for everything (1 Thessalonians 5:17). I heard that some people do “breath prayers” where they pray a word or phrase to God as they inhale and exhale. We can pray every day, every hour, every minute, every second. God wants us to try and overwhelm him with our prayers. God wants us to pray for everything (Philippians 4:6; Ephesians 6:18)
And this includes praying to find lost keys, for the traffic light to turn green, for the front door to be locked when you’re at the mall and can’t remember if you locked it before you left.
I still pray for the sickness to heal, the baby to be saved, the friend’s heart to soften. I have seen enough answers to prayers that I know God is listening. I have been in awe of God’s answers more times in my daily prayers than I ever thought a person could.
Because of my praying, I have learned to trust God, his word, and his plan. I have relied on him for things that previously I thought were trivialities and couldn’t be important to him. What I learned is that nothing about us is trivial to God, and if we pray to him, he will listen.
Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NLT)
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Philippians 4:6 (NLT)
Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. Ephesians 6:18 (NLT)