I'll be the first to admit that I haven't had the best track record of a prayer life. For a long time, I've been the kind of person who prays only when at the lowest of my lows... and makes promises such as "I'll pray for you" but ultimately forgets to do it. Guilty party, over here.
So, in the last year I've been making a conscious effort to speak (and listen) to God more. During a particularly tough season last fall, I began praying on my way to work every day. It wasn't always a daily thing, but I tried to be regular about it – and my life changed so much as a result. Even if I only prayed a sentence or two, something would pop up during my week that would answer my question or request. I started understanding more of the pains I felt in my life – what were purely selfish, and where I was gaining growth through the pain. I started seeing how I could use what I had in my hands to serve others. I started loving my husband, family, and friends in a new light.
I also learned how prayer works for me. For example, Chris sits on our couch every morning with his cup of coffee and reads his Bible and takes notes. He writes out his prayers. I love to write. I take notes every Sunday at church and during every work meeting, and I surround myself with handwritten lists. But when it comes to prayer, it just doesn't feel right. I found out that I have to pray out loud. Not only does this help me sort through my thoughts better than writing out prayers would, but I also feel like I'm meeting up with a friend for coffee (as cliche´ as that may sound). It puts me and God in a relational conversation. This feels right to me – this is how He wants me to approach Him. "Hello, Father and old friend. Let's chat for a minute."
I also initially struggled with what to say. For a time, I felt that anything I said I knew was coming from a selfish place in my heart. So I just avoided saying anything out of fear of being dumb and naive. The freeing thing is that God already knows the selfish parts of my heart. He knows I'm a little slow to His ways, and that I'm young and misunderstand Him a lot of the time. He also calls me His beloved. His child. So, like a child comes to their parent and asks question after question, I do with God. I just let myself dive in, and when I realize what I've said was prideful, I claim it. I ask Him to help me with that. So many times, doing this has helped me realize where I'm restless, in good ways and bad.
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.
– Romans 8:26
So wherever you are in your prayer walk, I encourage you to keep walking. Wherever you have times when your mind wanders – maybe it's while drying your hair in the morning, or maybe it's on your workday coffee break (checking Instagram?). Try chatting with God for a minute. If the closing your eyes and speaking mentally doesn't work, try speaking out loud or writing things down. Find out what works for you and just get started. You won't regret it. :)