The Rote Way to Pray
Dear Ones –
(Disclaimer: After I wrote this one of my readers commented that they were unfamiliar with the word -rote- so, just in case you are… routine; a fixed, habitual, or mechanical course of procedure from memory, without thought of the meaning; in a mechanical way)
I was without kids for a while today and thought that maybe I would try to catch up with a few people I hadn’t talked to in quite a while. However it seemed everyone I called today was unavailable. Which meant I listened to a lot of messages.
As I was listening it struck me that there was a common theme between them all. And it was more than that they all needed to convey the same message. They actually said the same thing…”This is so and so. I’m unavailable right now, but if you leave your name and number I will call you back as soon as I can.”. It’s like there is a formula for answering messages and so many people just blindly follow the formula.
And I must say that it’s just fine to do that. Sure some people have messages that make you bored or laugh or just plain wonder what you are listening to, but plain Old Jane still works. Even my parents answering message works, if you, the listener are willing to listen for a very, very long time… (One day our #2 got his little fingers on their machine and managed to record several minutes of background talking and his own personal noises.)
Anyway, while I was thinking about message styles I started to think about praying and how some people pray that way too. Some people pray the same words every day. I know as parents this can sometimes just happen to you cause you’re teaching your kids to pray and in trying to build the concept you use the same words over and over everyday. I think mealtime prayers and bedtime prayers are the most common to fall prey to these prayers. And when you teach your kids to pray it IS the concept that you are trying to teach. (Currently our #1 prays for his little brother’s hurting teeth every night because that is apparently the only nice prayer he could think of to pray in regards to his brother one night and it stuck. “Dear Jesus, Please heal F’s teeth because they’re growing and they hurt him. Thank you Jesus. Amen”)
But what about you? Have your prayers fallen into the rote rut? Do you have real conversation with God or are you just praying the same prayers and words everyday? Have you fallen into the mundane routine that happens when we are just performing our rituals instead of making a point to really talk?
Yes, Jesus did teach the Lord’s Prayer to us. Yes, those words are life filling and a great starting point to speak with God. The thing is that Jesus didn’t stop with only those words. He spoke His whole heart. He shared and He listened and it was not just tradition; it was beyond. There are beautiful things about traditional prayers that can take us into a deep place with God. However, it’s when we heart connect that we are really praying.
After all, in Psalms we are reminded over and over again to make a joyful noise before the Lord (Psalms 66:1, 81:1, 95:1,95:2, 98:4, 98:6, 100:1). I think this means more than just making noise or saying certain words. I believe it means to let your heart speak.
The other problem with rote praying is that it can often be mindless. Rote praying can have happened so many times that we don’t even have to think about the words that are coming out of our mouths. They just fall out ’cause that is what we are supposed to be saying. When this happens we are doing an injustice not only to ourselves, but to the prayer itself. Prayer is a conversation not a recitation.
All this thinking has got me thinking about my prayer time. How much of it is what I do because it is what I do? How much is connection? This is something I want to keep in the forefront of my mind. I want to remember these thoughts and make changes where things have gotten sleepy. Want to join me and take a look at yours? I want to go beyond the concept of prayer time with my kids and begin to work more on specific connection time. Anybody up for joining me? I will be interested to see if I see a difference in my life…especially my thought life. I’m ready to be more consistently full of joyful noise. Shoot me a note if you want to keep track with me. I will check in around the first of October and would love to hear any stories you have to share.
I am attaching some pictures from the birthday fun we had earlier this week. Enjoy!