Origin of Prayer
As for the exact origins, no one really knows. Written works that go back over 5000 years make mention of prayer in some context.1 There is evidence that prayer could have gone back even farther . Some well-known people that have been recorded as praying are Jesus, Socrates, Cato. Just to name a few. If I dare guess, I would have to say that the three people previously mentioned all “prayed” differently.
Defined and Explained
Now that you have read the universal definition of prayer. I would like you to consider redefining prayer. From my research and personal experience, prayer is different for everyone, as it should be. Prayer for me is a conversation with God. It’s a special time and place where I can give thanks, express hurt, ask for forgiveness, cry, be overjoyed, get my anger out or just sit in the Mighty presence of God.
What does prayer look like? This video portrays what I have been told and shown prayer to look like. Honestly, growing up with that being what prayer “was”, stressed me out. Don’t get me wrong. That is not a bad way to pray. It’s just not for me all of the time. This picture is what prayer looks like to me now.
This space gives me peace. You might be asking, why two chairs? Well, that’s my chair for Jesus. Here is a wonderful story as to why I have chosen to include the extra chair. I add this to my topic of Prayer because I feel that the story can be a tool to help redefine prayer for someone else. This resource is yet another option for finding new tools to make prayer your own.
A chair is not the only place to meet with and talk to God. Prayer can be in your car, you know when you would rather say some not so nice things to your fellow driver. That stressful moment is a great reminder to pray for that person, regardless feelings. In that example, I pray that they arrive home safely, that they are protected and that everyone they come in contact with is safe as well. In doing that, it calms me down and I believe even relieves some of the stress response I was originally having. I have even found that the bathroom is also a place that prayer can and does happen. For example, while brushing your teeth. Prayer can happen everywhere and anywhere you stop, refocus and take a breath.
This article is another perspective on how prayer can be redefined. Once we take “prayer” out of its box. We get to make it our own, and use prayer as God created it to be. As a tool in our toolbox. More on that below.
How do I start?
Here is a short video on things to consider when creating a prayer space. As I mentioned in the video a devotional can be a huge help when you are first starting out. I just started this one today (they add a little variety to an existing prayer routine as well.) I mention that particular devotional because it goes more in depth about the P.R.A.I.S.E 2 way to pray. There are a variety of ways to pray. This is only one. (please keep in mind this is from a biblical perspective. I include it as a jumping off point.)
(P= Praise ) This can be with music. I thank God. Reading over a gratitude journal.
(R=Repentance) I ask God for forgiveness. It can even be a time that you forgive yourself or others.
(A= Acknowledgment) I acknowledge God as the Lord of my life. It could be a part of your prayer were you examine areas that you need to take a step back.
(I=Intercession) Lifting others up. (Praying for other people, like in my car example above.)
(S= Supplication for Self ) Here is your turn. I let it all out.
(E= Equipping) Another way to say preparing. I ask for God to show me what He wants me to get done that day and the ability to do the tasks.
Some people might prefer pre-written prayers that can be found in a prayer book. Others might find meditating on scripture/quotes works for them as a form of prayer. I do find reading the Bible in a quiet setting, like my prayer space a great way to recenter my thoughts on a bigger picture.
Prayer and its Connection To Stress
So what does all of this talk about prayer have to do with stress? Besides my example above. I think this short movie trailer sums up how prayer can be a new tool in regards to stress.
(Please pay attention to the feelings you feel as you watch the video.) Do you feel the tension when they talk about money? The feelings you get when you think about moving? Marriage alone causes A LOT of stress. Did you notice the different feelings you had when they talked about or showed them praying? Life is stressful. God did not create us to handle all this stress alone. Prayer is an outlet to do what we can do and give the rest to God. As shown in the trailer money, moving, relationships, jobs etc. can all cause stress. Having a “prayer strategy” can be another way to Transform Stress.
Other noteworthy benefits found here had to do with MRI brain mapping studies. They showed that the people that prayed regularly had thicker brain cortex’s than others that did not.
I would love to hear your “Prayer Strategy”! Please comment with what you do.
2 Beth Moore, Whispers of Hope