Note to my Readers: This post contains a simplified explanation of very personal insights. They are true insights I have learned regarding sensitive and spiritual matters. I treasure these experiences and hold them very close to my heart. I share them here with gratitude and humility. As you read this post, I hope you will receive it humbly and with the same spirit written.
I want to share some thoughts about “prayer, how to pray, and receiving answers to prayers.” These thoughts are very personal. But first, let me begin by saying I know our Heavenly Father loves each of us …all of us. He truly is our Heavenly Father; He knows our names; He knows our struggles; He knows what we need; and, He wants to answer our meaningful and sincere prayers. Meaningful and sincere prayer is not usually a “one-off” prayer uttered in a crisis. Instead, it comes over time through regular and humble supplication to the Father. I know that when we faithfully and sincerely ask Him, He will answer. Often, under the right spiritual circumstances, our sincere prayers may be answered as we pray. However, more often, they are answered later, and in the Lord’s time. We will probably not hear a voice. Most likely, it will be a warm feeling of confidence or reassurance from the Holy Spirit as we move forward in faith. And, sometimes, the answer may be a kind but simple message of “No.” Regardless, our Heavenly Father will answer our meaningful and sincere prayers.
I want to illustrate this point by reflecting on an experience in the life of my family. In 1984, my dear wife, Jenny, passed away suddenly. That was a very desperate and emotional time for our family. Instantly, I became the sole caregiver for our seven children, all between the ages of five months and 13 years; and, we were living far away in Europe. At the same time, these children were left with a somewhat flawed and broken father who loved them more than anyone. In the days that followed Jenny’s death, it was difficult for me to pray. I did not blame God for her death; I had not lost my faith. I did not understand. Why would God allow Jenny to die and leave us on our own? It didn’t seem right. We needed her more than He did (it seemed). Of course, I was wrong! He knows more perfectly what is best, and what we needed. In desperation and remorse, I fell to my knees, and I began to pray more earnestly and sincerely than I had ever prayed before. Through it all, I always knew how important my children were to Him; but I also began to realize and understand more deeply that God knows who I am …who we are. And, I sincerely felt more than ever before that God trusted me with the care of my children, His children. I felt that if He knew and trusted me as He did, then all would be well. I could do this! And, that knowledge strengthened me and made it possible for me to move forward in faith. I haven’t forgotten that lesson. Our Heavenly Father knows who I am, and He trusts me. That was the answer I needed to hear.
I also realized that I was not alone. So, early on and over time, prayer to our Father in Heaven became more and more important and meaningful to me. Today, I look forward to my prayers because I sincerely and honestly know I can speak to Him, and He will hear me. But what do I do to prepare for these visits? That then is what I want to write about in this post.
Before praying, it’s important to clear my mind of distraction: try to focus. At the same time, I try to anticipate my visits and pondering what I will say. I spend a little time standing in a pre-selected quiet place with my head down. I try to think about what I’m about to do and to whom I’m about to pray. I try to be aware of my senses and seek to feel the influence of the Holy Spirit. If I’m prepared, I will begin to sense the influence of the Holy Spirit.
When I feel ready, I try to imagine in my mind the Father looking down on me. I ponder and try to visualize Him. I try to imagine being in His presence …standing in His presence! Frequently and often, I can feel the influence of the Holy Spirit before I begin to pray. The influence comes to me as an emotional tingling about my body: and often in my head, neck, shoulders, and back. Then, I kneel as if before Him and begin to pray with sincerity, reverence, and gratitude …and, I strive to open my mind to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and the “still small voice.”
When I pray, what do I say? Expressing gratitude is essential. Also, I know I have weaknesses that limit my growth. So, often my prayerful desire is to know what I lack or what I’m missing; what more I should know; and, what I should do? I try to talk to the Father about these things. Also, I pray for the welfare of family and others, sometimes explicitly, other times generally. Often, I feel enlightened by the Holy Spirit concerning what to say. At all times, and regardless of what is said, a humble and sincere attitude of gratitude is essential!
After each prayer, I like to pause while still on my knees and briefly continue to contemplate and meditate. I try to open my mind and senses and listen for the influence of the Holy Spirit. These are often moments that lift me spiritually above my natural condition. I know I still have much to do to draw closer to the Lord, but each day, at the end of meaningful prayers, I always have a greater sense of hope. And, I have a greater feeling of love and a desire to be of greater service.
I love personal prayers and these opportunities to open up and sincerely speak with Heavenly Father. And I am so grateful for the positive and sweet influence of the Holy Spirit.
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