I have often wondered about prayer. What is praying, really? Sometimes I wonder what "counts" as praying. If I am thinking about a friend with a need, am I praying? Do I have to ask specific things for the person? Do you have to pray out loud, or is it OK to pray silently? What if I fall asleep...have I really been praying? What about day dreaming? Does that count as prayer?
Fil Anderson's book, Running on Empty, has really challenged my thinking about the spiritual life. I recognized myself in his descriptions of his own prayer experiences. Like Fil, I have spent countless hours bringing requests before God, telling him what was happening and what he needed to do about it. I have been very careful to say just the right words. I have prayed the scriptures, prayed while walking, prayed on my knees, prayed with cards and lists. There is nothing wrong with any of those practices. But the form of prayer is not really what prayer is about.
For many of us, prayer is just a monologue. It is a formula of worshiping, praising, confessing, asking and thanking. When we are through, we say amen and go about the day.
I want to stop worrying about whether my time with God counts as prayer. I want to begin enjoying his presence, opening my heart to him, hearing his voice and experiencing his embrace. God doesn't need to be something else on my to-do list. He is someone I like being around. More profoundly, I am someone he likes to be around. Wow.