Wednesday, August 17, 2016

How to Pray Authentically: The Four Position Prayer

When I first became a part of the family of Christ I was pretty clueless.  I had no idea what it meant to be a Christian, I had no idea how to study the Bible, and I didn't really know how to pray.  

I've read several books about prayer.  And often times I find myself, after reading hundreds of paging, coming out still knowing virtually nothing about prayer.  So let's just cut right to the chase.  I did all this study, learned very little, so I decided that I needed to come up with my own method of prayer.

Prayer is insanely important to the Christian life.  If you aren't praying at least once a day it's hard to say that your even a Christian.  Prayer is like breathing to a Christian.  If you aren't praying, your suffocating or dead.  Plain and simple.  No excuses.  It's true.  

In the mornings I do two quick devotional readings.  A devotional is just a book with a reading for every day of the year.  There are tons of them out there.  I like Jesus Calling by Sarah Young.  And I also do Taking Time to Be Holy by Samuel Logan Brengle (Salvation Army devotional).  A great devotional is called Our Daily Bread, I always read that one at my nursing home Bible study.  It's free.  

I also do a short prayer in the mornings after my two devotionals.  Mornings are not my favorite thing.  I have trouble walking, eating, and breathing in the mornings.  I am not a morning person, and the world is run by morning people.  Very sad.  Anyway, I keep it short and sweet in the morning.  

My big prayer is at night right before I go to bed.  I call it the four position prayer.  Here's how it works:

First step, take out your hymn book.  I have a Salvation Army song book.  You could use a Baptist hymn book, a Catholic hymn book, or any number of song books from various denominations.  If you don't have one, head over to a Goodwill or thrift store, you'll probably be able to find one.  Also, there are tons of hymns available including the Salvation Army hymn book available via apps and such.

Leave your night light on for this part.  And you pick 1-3 hymns and simply pray them to God, reading them over and projecting them as praise toward heaven.  Very simply, very effective.  I'm usually sitting on the floor Indian-style when I do this one.

Step two, take out your Bible.  If you don't have a Bible, well, your in worse shape then I thought.  Take out your Bible, and open it to the psalms.  Pick 1-3 psalms and pray them to God.  Use them as praise to heaven.  I usually go to psalms, but you can pray many parts of the Bible. Experiment with what works for you.  Leave the night light on for this part, or the Bible might be hard to read.  You can kneel as you pray in an upright kneeling position with the Bible on the floor in front of you.  

Step three, turn off the night light and in total darkness go on your knees and place your head an inch or two from the ground.  From this position pray to God the "Our Father" prayer.  Do not just "say" the Our Father.  Slowly go through it, line by line, emphasizing the various aspects of the prayer.  Make sure your expressing the meaning in your soul and mind as you pray it.  I was raised Catholic, and we would say it so often, it wasn't really a prayer, just a monotonous mumbling of sorts.  Really pray it.  

After the "Our Father" then pray the Serenity prayer.  I pray the short version, but if you want you can pray the long version.  The short is: "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I can't change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."  Google for the longer version, both are great.  After the serenity prayer I tend to pray a quick prayer for tomorrow: "God grant me the serenity to love their best and never fear their worst."  This prayer is good when you may have to deal with difficult coworkers, or obnoxious customers or family members that rub you the wrong way.  

Step three concludes with some thank yous, usually just "thank you for this day."  And "thank you for your love."  And "thank you for something nice that happened today."  Or "thank you for the struggles today, because I know they're maturing me into the man you want me to be."

Step four.  Move from the kneeling position and lay flat on your back, on the floor, and place your hands folded over your chest/stomach.  Position four is your confessional time.  This is when you really talk real to God.  Be totally honest about how your feeling and what's going on in your life.  It's best to do this in total darkness.  Confess your struggles.  Make your requests to God in this position.  If your angry, yell and scream.  If your upset, cry.  If your questioning, ask God some questions.  But always conclude your statements with "Never the less Lord, your will be done and not mine."  And if your having a real struggle and your really suffering then pray "God, you give and you take away, but never the less, blessed and holy is your name."  This is a way of saying "Lord I don't understand what's going on with all this, but I trust you and I refuse to blame you and I refuse to suggest that you might be doing something wrong, because you are always holy." Job did the same.  Pray for your family.  Pray for your friends.  Pray for the lost.  Pray for the world.  

[Optional Step 5] Sometimes I will also include the five finger prayer either while I'm laying on my back, or I will sit up back in an indian style sitting position on the floor.  And I'll do the five finger prayer.  If you'd like to include that in your prayer, it's a very nifty prayer.  It's kind of hard for me to lose my hand.  It tends to always be there.  So I look at my hand:

Thumb: Pray for those closest to you, like family and close friends.

Pointer finger: Pray for your spiritual leaders.  So pray for your pastors, pray for your counselors and pray for anyone who mentors you.

Middle finger: It's the tallest finger, so pray for those in authority.  This would be prayers for political leaders, for local governmental leaders, for Congress, the Supreme Court, and the President.

Ring finger: This is your weakest finger: Use this finger to pray for the weak and the struggling.  I usually pray for drug addicts, alcoholics, the depressed, the disabled, the lost and the sick.

Pinkie: Lastly, pray for yourself and your needs.    

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