Seeds of Devotion
By Julia Attaway

How Do You Pray?

The first moms’ group I ever attended consisted of six women and ten kids. A babysitter watched the babies; the mothers met separately to read the Bible, talk and pray. It was nice, but a little weird.

You see, all of the other moms went to a different church than I did. And they all prayed the same way: same chatty tone of voice, same overall structure, even some of the same words (“Abba God” and “just” were popular). I felt a bit like I hadn’t gotten the script.

There’s no single right way to pray, of course. But my moms’ group experience made me more aware that at times it’s helpful to stop and listen to our personal pattern of prayer:

  • Do we almost always pray to the same person of the Trinity?
  • Are there types of prayer—adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication, acceptance—that we veer toward (or away from)?
  • Do we pray more for our enemies, or for deliverance from them?
  • Are there phrases we use all the time? Formats?
  • How much of our prayer time is spent listening instead of talking?
  • Are we praying the way we hear other people pray, or are we really opening up our hearts fully?

It’s good to be in the habit of prayer, but we need to be careful that our prayers aren’t habitual. Once in a while—this week’s as good a time as any—it’s worth pausing to listen to ourselves, to hear what we’re saying to God, and how we’re saying it. Maybe our prayer habits are limiting our prayers.

Julia Attaway is a freelance writer, homeschooler and mother of five. She is the editor of Daily Guideposts: Your First Year of Motherhood, a book of devotions for first-time moms. She lives in New York.

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