Thursday, January 23, 2014

Let my prayer come before thee

I have always found praying difficult.

And at the same time I need it, I want it, I even crave for it.

The feeling of finding the presence of God, of being there with Him, of baring myself to Him.

So, why is it so difficult?
Psalms 88:2 - “Let my prayer come before thee: incline thine ear unto my cry.”

When I am praying I become the ADHD child from the jokes around the internet.

Dear God, I think I'm hungry, no I mean, Dear God, here I am before you, and I'm itching.

No, let's do it again.

Dear God, I come before you in silence, what is that noise?

NO!!!!
Nahum 1:7 - “The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and He knoweth them that trust in Him.”

Brother Lawrence says in the book The Practice of the Presence of God: Conversations and Letter of Brother Lawrence "That we should establish ourselves in a sense of GOD'S Presence, by continually conversing with Him".

When I first heard about the life as a prayer, I thought it was the most wonderful thing.

I started to pray that God would make my life a constant prayer to Him.

That in every moment I would be talking to Him.

No matter what I was doing, I would do it to Him, as a gift or a sacrifice.
“Faith does not eliminate questions. But faith knows where to take them” - Elisabeth Elliot

It has been a rough road sometimes, but at the same time it has been wonderful.

The possibility of conversing with God, no matter where you are, is amazing.

I once said to a catholic friend here that it doesn't matter where you are, you can always pray to God, even if you are in the bathroom.

At first she was quiet and I was afraid I had insulted her so much that she wouldn't talk to me anymore.
PSALM 23:6 “Surely goodness and loving kindness shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the LORD's house forever.”

Then she laughed a little, and said, that is such a protestant thing to say.

I think it is such a Christian thing to say.

But I know that there is more treasure to be found.

And I long to be even closer to God.

That is why this year I have been decided to try out Lectio Divina.
“The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.”
― Søren Kierkegaard

According to Wikipedia:

"In Christianity, Lectio Divina (Latin for divine reading) is a traditional Benedictine practice of scriptural reading, meditation and prayer intended to promote communion with God and to increase the knowledge of God's Word It does not treat Scripture as texts to be studied, but as the Living Word.
Traditionally Lectio Divina has 4 separate steps: read, meditate, pray and contemplate. First a passage of Scripture is read, then its meaning is reflected upon. This is followed by prayer and contemplation on the Word of God.
The focus of Lectio Divina is not a theological analysis of biblical passages but viewing them with Christ as the key to their meaning. For example, given Jesus' statement in John 14:27: "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give unto you" an analytical approach would focus on the reason for the statement during the Last Supper, the biblical context, etc. But in Lectio Divina rather than "dissecting peace", the practitioner "enters peace" and shares in the peace of Christ. In Christian teachings, this form of meditative prayer leads to an increased knowledge of Christ.
The roots of Scriptural reflection and interpretation go back to Origen in the 3rd century, after whom St. Ambrose taught them to St. Augustine. The monastic practice of Lectio Divina was first established in the 6th century by Saint Benedict and was then formalized as a 4 step process by the Carthusian monk, Guigo II, in the 12th century. In the 20th century, the constitution Dei Verbum of Pope Paul VI recommended Lectio Divina for the general public. Pope Benedict XVI emphasized the importance of Lectio Divina in the 21st century."
“Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts.”
― Mother Teresa

In Lectio Divina you read first a Bible verse.

Then you meditate on the meaning of the words you read.

After that you pray on what you just read.

And at last you contemplate on the verse and it's meaning.

This is my hear yearning, to understand the meaning of the word of God, learn it and hide it in my heart.

Maybe one day I will understand even a little bit of God also.
“Give me the Love that leads the way
The Faith that nothing can dismay
The Hope no disappointments tire
The Passion that'll burn like fire
Let me not sink to be a clod
Make me Thy fuel, Flame of God”
― Amy Carmichael

171 comments:

  1. Learning to be STILL in His presence is no small task!

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  2. Lovely post. I think everyone can benefit from a little prayer in their lives sometimes.

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    1. Prayer has actual proven health benefits besides bringing you closer to God.

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  3. Very nice post. I am not one to pray, but i can relate..

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  4. I do that sometimes. I had never heard it called that though. When I pray, I do ACTS- Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving,and Supplication.

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    1. That sounds very interesting also, April. I must try it some time.

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  5. Yes, you can pray anywhere you want. Even in the bathroom. LOL

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  6. I try very hard to do small prayers throughout my day. I seem to do better with that versus trying to devote a specific amount of time to Him.

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    1. It works better for me that way too, Becky. But I would really want to learn to devote specific time for Him also. Maybe I'll be able to do that some day.

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  7. I try to practice some form of spirituality. I believe in prayer to a higher power which may or not be inside of me or outside. It doesn't matter as I try to explain to my son, it just matters that you do it!
    Mitch

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    1. The prayer is very important. But I think a personal relationship with God gives even more. But that can be attained trough prayer :)

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  8. I also have a hard time doing prayers throughout the day but I do, do some at night!

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    1. I fall asleep at night, lol. I'm really bad at this. So I try to move around or focus on something.

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  9. I don't have any sort of traditional prayer when I pray or talk to God. It's just a conversation, what is on my mind and in my heart - sometimes it's asking for things, other times thanking for the blessings in my life!

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    1. That is what I do also, Debra. But the problem is that my mind wanders. That is why I have tried to find different things to do to help me.

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  10. Love the quote from Mother Theresa. It's one of my favorites.

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    1. Thank you, Ellen. She was a very wise woman.

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  11. Prayer is a beautiful, as well as essential, way to ask for Our Lord’s help and blessings. I usually do prayers in the nights

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    1. I try to pray throughout the day. I really feel that praying all the time would be the best thing possible. I hope to be able to do it one day.

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  12. You have a garden of loveliness! Love the flowers and the Scripture!

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  13. I can see why the Catholic thought it was such a Protestant thing to say. Her religion (as far as I know from my studies on Catholicism) teaches her that you aren't able to pray directly to God, you have to pray to your priest at mass, etc. Such a big difference in religions!

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    1. It is sometimes such a huge difference. I wish she can find a way to pray directly to God.

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    2. Hi Rabel Chick,

      quote "Her religion (as far as I know from my studies on Catholicism) teaches her that you aren't able to pray directly to God, you have to pray to your priest at mass, etc"

      I am not sure what studies you have done on Catholicism but I have never been taught as a Catholic to pray to the priest, in fact that would be idolatry. We are taught to pray to God. Unfortunately some folks don't have that personal relationship with God and haven't yet realized that you can pray anywhere and at any time. That possibly is the fault of bad teaching from the priest! Hope that clarifies that statement.

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    3. Maggie, you are very right. I have found many Catholics with very solid and healthy faith. But sadly many people here, due to cultural facts, don't have such a faith. Their faith is more to the custom and a lot of them do pray the priest. Or what is even more common, they pray to different Virgins or Saints that are erected to old Incan and indigenous worship places.
      Just like with protestants, it's one thing to belong to the church and another to believe in God and Christ as your Savior.

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    4. That's why it"s very important to have a personal relationship with Christ; meet HIM, know Him, Communicate with Him-personally. No matter how good our spiritual leaders are, and no matter how much TRUE information we get from people around us including Spiritual leader, we must have a personal relationship with God. That means I need to create time when it shall be "I and God." Knowing God and Salvation are very personal things, because at the end of the day every individual shall carry his/her own cross. No excuses.

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    5. Great comment, Job. And very true. We need to have a personal relationship with Christ, more than anything else.

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  14. When I pray, it's usually not planned, it's just whatever my heart feels. This is a beautiful post & I love these flowers.

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  15. A great post on a significant topic. One pastor of a large church shared with his congregation that he had the same problem. The approach that worked for him was to write out his prayers. The exercise of writing focused his mind on God. He kept the written prayers in a journal so that he could look back and thank God for His blessings.

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    1. That's a great idea also! Thank you so much. I'll try it out!

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  16. It's very hard at times to still your mind to only focus on one thing (like prayer). It may be easier to make it short (and sweet) and possibly without planning.

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    1. I try everything. And I think the short sweet ones can be very significant. It means that you are so in love with God that He just pops into your mind, at any given time.

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  17. God just wants to hear YOU - it don't got to be fancy-schmancy - He just wants to hear from your heart...

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  18. Beautiful photos! Thanks for sharing.

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  19. I find myself praying during chores or during car rides. My kids used to ask me who I was talking to when they found me talking outloud dusting the cabinets!

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    1. LOL, Pam. I like those moments for the prayer also.

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  20. My thing is distraction. Right in the middle of a prayer my mind will wander to something else, and I'll stop praying mid-prayer. I've been praying for help with that, because I hate when it happens!!

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    1. That is what happens to me also. And it's really hard to overcome. That is why I'm trying out different things. Maybe Lectio Divina will help me to focus better.

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  21. I am a big believer but I can't pray either. I envy my family for being able to, anytime in any circumstance.

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    1. It is an enviable thing, Petro. Maybe we'll learn :)

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  22. I completely understand about ADHD prayers! Two hours later I'll remember that I never finished. I do try to pray all day long - yes, I am Protestant! That helps and it allows God to bring people to mind exactly when THEY NEED me to pray. It sounds like we are on the same path this year - http://ruths-real-life.blogspot.com/2014/01/be-still.html

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    1. I think it's a quite universal problem, Ruth. It is not easy to look beyond our worldly worries, only to God. But that is why we must keep practicing and trying.

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  23. I pray throughout the day in little bursts but I think that's the great thing about God, as long as you're sincere in your faith and your approach he knows YOU and how you talk to him, so whether you're praying throughout the day or you save it all up until the end there is no right or wrong. I also, love your pictures that you have included in this post :)

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    1. Thank you, Cassie. I agree, prayer is so that we can know God, He already knows us. So He is always there for us, throughout the day.

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  24. Wonderful post! I still struggle with prayer at times too.

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  25. LOL!! I love your comparison to praying as an ADHD kid. I feel the same way sometimes. When I'm really stressed or need guidance is when I feel that way. When I'm having a 'conversation' rather than trying to pray, its so much easier

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    1. Thank you, Jennifer :) It is true, there are some days that prayer that flows. And then there are days when it feels just impossible.

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  26. For the longest time I only used prayer when things were going badly. I have learned to also pray when things are going well and to give thanks.

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    1. Gratitude is so important, Shannon. It can change you completely.

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  27. Lovely post. Thank you so much for sharing your words.

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  28. I find myself praying all the time, even random moments. I find comfort in prayer and I think that it is very important to believe it something. Prayer is important, not only in the bad times but in the good times too.

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    1. That is so true. We need prayer, the prayer changes us.

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  29. Prayer has definitely helped me through life. Even what seems like the most silly/trivial prayers are helpful.

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    1. Everything that brings us closer to God is good for us :)

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  30. I have to get up in the morning before everyone else so I can have my alone time. I love sitting and praying, pouring it all out and allowing Christ time to fill me with His word. Oh, to sit and read the Bible, to walk through nature and understand the beauty of God's world! It is truly amazing! Beautiful post - thank you!

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    1. Thank you Rebecca. It is true, the nature helps to feel His presence.

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  31. I'm learning to pray more shorter prayers & often....

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    1. I'm doing it also Pamela, it helps a lot.

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  32. I am about to begin a devotional as well, not that particular one, but one that requires just a bit of time each day. My hope is that I can get through it and stick to it. I tend to pray whenever and wherever I need to. I am very realistic that *I* can't do it alone, it's only by His grace.

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    1. Yes, my prayer has been that God would give me a thirst for prayer, Elizabeth. And I think it is working out.

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  33. Thank you for this post, I can very much relate

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  34. I don't think that there is ever a 'wrong' time to pray. I think we should all take comfort in doing what works best for us. :)

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    1. I agree, there is no wrong time or way, Stacie

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  35. lol. I feel ADHD when I begin to pray too. Especially when I'm in church. Too many distractions. I pray much better when talking to Him, rather than reciting prayers.

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    1. That is so true, Nancy. Church is really dificult place with so many people around.

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  36. Praying is a big thing in our family! There are times when I forget to pray, and only do when I need to, when I need to be guided! But I know deep down me that praying every single night will give me peace within :)

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    1. One of the best things we do together with my son is pray every nigh, Maurene. I think prayer as family is very powerful thing.

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  37. we pray anywhere and everywhere in this family :)

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  38. Sometimes I start a prayer as I'm laying down to sleep at night. Then I wake up in the morning and can't remember if I finished or not and said Amen. I probably should not pray lying down.

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    1. I have the exact same problem, Nicole. But I like to think that if I fall asleep praying and wake up to pray I'm surrounded by God all the time. Wish I could do it during the day also.

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  39. Great post. You can never pray too much.

    Michelle F.

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  40. Your pictures are gorgeous! I love all of the flowers.

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  41. I love those images of flowers, I used to pray every hour in silence and I haven't notice those obstacle in praying.

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  42. Thanks so much for sharing your prayer. Let your words be heard!

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  43. Such beautiful photos as usual. You have shared many words to live by.

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  44. Those are really beautiful photos and quotes.

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  45. Once again you have done a lovely post, I like the photos & also the quotes. We all need a little prayer every now and then, & thanks for sharing yours

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  46. Pray is talking to God, so in effect we do not need to stand or sit still to be in His presence. When we say the name 'Jesus' that is a prayer in itself and a very powerful one. Sometimes we think that we have to actually be still to be in prayerful mode, but you know, just chatting to God is a prayer because he is your friend and he wants to know all about what is going on. So while hoovering you can chat, for example, tell him about your kids, your husband, whatever, just chat. However if you want to still your mind when in the bathroom or where ever, there is a beautiful prayer called the 'Jesus prayer' and it goes like this. 'Lord Jesus Christ, son of the Living God have mercy on me' The pilgrim used to say this prayer, over and over again until it just became a part of him. It would just rise up at any time during the day like incense from his heart.

    Don't stress over prayer, God doesn't want us to stress over this, that is why he loves us to just talk to him like you would your best friend. One of my favourite prayers is "Come on Lord, I need your help." He hears it so often in our household and he does answer. When I loose something I say "Lord reveal to me where such and such is" and he does. If you can only find a moment of silence in your day then just say 'Jesus' and He will be there with you in that moment.

    God bless you Joanna

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    1. Thank you, Maggie. I agree with you. But I also think that prayer is to change us. And more time we spend in the prayer, more we change. The silence in front of God is very powerful and I want to experience it and be changed by it. It may take years but I think the search will be a reward in itself also.

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    2. Yes you are right Joanna, prayer does change you and having spent time in a contemplative order learning to just sit and be with God and it was most rewarding. However with all things it is about balance. In a place where everything is geared around prayer it is easy to be still, but we are in a busy market place having families and a million other things going on around us and in our heads this is not so easy. So little steps, when time and family permits and Yes it does take years and is very rewarding. I think that you will find your way as you are determined. God bless.

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  47. Hi, I have been a Christian all my life, but I felt like I was praying to walls until I had a real life experience with the Holy Spirit at the age of 26, I am 66 years old now. Long time 40 years! I remember when I first started praying after I had received the Holy Spirit, I wasn't feeling like I was praying to walls anymore, at that point I felt God. But despite that big difference in my life I still had trouble disciplining my mind to pray and not let my thoughts wander off in all kinds of directions. Like...what are my kids doing, I really need to get my errands done today, wonder if my husband will be home in time for dinner, and on and on... It took time to discipline my thinking. First of all you should be controlling your thinking not your thinking controlling you! This does not happen overnight it takes practice and lots of patience. When I go to God I go praising Him first, I even sing to Him, making up my own songs of praise. This gets my mind out of it's own thoughts and into the Spirit! In time I was able to close off other thoughts and gain control of my thinking. When you get to this point in prayer and meditation with God you open yourself up to also hearing from Him. This is a holy place where you and God truly communicate. It took time for me to get there, it took practice to gain control over my mind which naturally wanted to wander out of control, after all that's what it had been doing all of my life. It is a daily battle, my mind still tries to wander but I bring it back into subjection, I've learned how. Remember...enter His gates with praise and thanksgiving, that's how it all begins, that's how you'll enter in!!!














    s

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    1. Thank you so much! This is exactly what I want to do. And I know it will take me years and I'm ready to sacrifice those years to God. I agree with you, without Spirit we are not able to do it on our own. But also we need to teach and control ourselves. I hope I will get there. It is so encouraging to hear your story. Thank you for sharing and God bless :)

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  48. I often have this problem when meditating. I find when we are in silence this is when the thoughts that have been trying to surface all day ar noticable and often cloud my mind. I work daily on being able to stop listen and focus on the days blessings instead of the things I need to do or want

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    1. That is what I'm trying to do also, Tiffany. I think the silence and being quiet in front of God is a powerful tool to change us more into likeness of Him.

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  49. I think, I like the idea of Lecto Divina - I mean - I could use that at this moment (since I am quite having some setbacks of my own) it would be nice to read on something and contemplate on its meaning. I should do this, thank you.

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  50. Very interesting! I pray constantly, literally all day long. Always have. I guess it's just normal for me!

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    1. I know it's natural for some people. And you're so lucky! God bless!

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  51. I really love your photos, they are so pretty! I think you do a fantastic job of matching up your photography to your message :)

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  52. He never said it would be easy. I couldn't do anything without Him. Great post!

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    1. That is so true. We are warned that it won't be easy. But we still must keep trying. And thank you :)

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  53. Lovely post and thanks for sharing! I think it's important to always give thanks!

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    1. Thank you, Sabrina. And I agree, gratefulness changes our lives and the way we look at our lives.

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  54. Beautiful photos. I need to make more time each day to pray. I tend to do it here and there in spurts.

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    1. Thank you, Kecia. And I'm glad my post inspired you think about your praying.

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  55. I am totally not good when it comes to prayers,... but I do love to sit and meditate, which to me is so relaxing.

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    1. I think meditating and praying are very similar, Terry. In both you try to find your center, the peace and silence, the inner quietud. But in prayer you do this to open yourself to God and enable Him to change you.

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  56. Those are beautiful photos. I pray all the time and I encourage my kids to do the same thing. Prayer is such a wonderful thing.

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    1. Thank you so much Amanda. Prayer is wonderful, you are righ.

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  57. This is a good noble act to prey, prey every day. I do like you but I do not know if I would ever know God some day before I go. Hope you would know some day as you say.

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    1. I agree, praying is a good and noble act. And we do not really know God, He is too great for us to understand Him. The prayer is so He can change us and through that change we can know Him a bit better. I hope you will know Him and I hope to know Him also. God bless!

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  58. being still is a hard thing to do fro most

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  59. I always love reading your posts because the sincerity and humor combined in every post is very entertaining and not only that, it always wake my spirituality.

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    1. Thank you so much! That is so encouraging to know :)

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  60. I'm all about praying whenever and wherever because I know that it keeps me closer to God, even in the bathroom, haha. Thanks for sharing!

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  61. This is a great post. As usual, your posts are so fitting to my 2014 purpose: Increase my faith and belief. I like the concept of talking to God in our daily lives. Thank you for your timely posts on this special year for me.

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    1. I'm so glad to hear God can use me to talk to you, Liliana. Such a wonderful answer to my prayers. And I hope to yours too. God bless!

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  62. I have that problem too! Ideally, I'd like to live my live so that I'm constantly in a prayerful frame of mind... but then the ADHD sets in. :P

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    1. I think it takes practise, Elise. Impatient people like me just don't like to wait the time it takes.

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  63. I agree with you, the desire to be closer to GOD and to pray always isn't a protestant thing, it's a Christian thing. I'm not protestant, but our religion believes we should always be praying to God. Always have a prayer in our hearts. And always do our best that our actions can reflect well.

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    1. I like that, Amber. I will try to always have a prayer in my heart also. And reflect it with my actions.

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  64. This is another powerful piece from you Joanna. I love the Lectio Divina and the calm and clarity it inspires. Even though I grew up Catholic, I've been exposed to other faiths; eastern and western, and it is in the tradition of all of them to spend time in contemplation and prayer.... Sending you blessings! TY

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    1. Thank you so much! And blessings to you also!

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  65. That's wonderful that you've decided to make the commitment. Prayer is something that I wish I did more...I never feel that I do it right lol. I hope this will be a great experience for you!

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    1. I think it's our insecurities, Janelle. For God it's important that we remember Him. There is no right or wrong way to pray.

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  66. I am not religious, so it's hard for me to relate on that level. Still, it sounds like me when I am attempting to fall asleep at night. I have a hard time quieting the noise in my head. I love the pictures, like always you pick such beautiful ones!

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    1. Finding the inner peace can be hard, Kisa. I think that is what I was trying to say also. And thank you, I'm glad that you like the pictures :)

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  67. My mother is the same way when it comes to prayer, she has set up a room in her home just for worship and praying. I do not practice religion the same as most so I do not pray. I am sure God appreciates any of it even if it is all over the place!

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    1. I wish I had space to have a worship and prayer room, Jennifer. Sigh. Well, like you say, God apreciates us remebering Him, not the exact way we do it.

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  68. I love this post. I pray throughout the day sometimes.

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  69. I really do love this post. Sometimes I get so distracted during prayer too

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    1. I'm so glad to hear you enjoyed the post, Katherine. And to have someone else to share the frustration with :)

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  70. Those flowers are so beautiful. Some are found here in Florida. I still have a problem praying out loud with others around me. But I'm learning more and more that its ok if my prayers aren't as nice as those who are so good at it. Besides, God doesn't care. As long as we speak to him through prayer.

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    1. I'm glad you like the flowers, Tammy. I think for me it's easier to pray aloud because it's easier to concentrate on what I'm saying. when I'm silent is when my thoughts start to wander.

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  71. I try to pray during the day in small doses as I remember something or someone who has asked. When I try to pray at night before bed I get distracted by something or fall asleep!

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    1. Yes, I'm a big sleep prayer too, Pam. LOL

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  72. Prayer is so important. One thing that helps me is to think about what I want to say before I actually start my prayer, and with having a purpose in mind it helps me stay focused. The most important part is that you are trying and the more you do it the easier it will become. Receiving answers to your prayers is truly amazing. Just keep trying :)

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    1. You are right, Coralie. Recieving answers always gives more purpose and power to the prayer.

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  73. I had to laugh at the beginning because you sound like me...I always wonder during my prayers.

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    1. I'm glad to find a sister with the same problem, Jamie ;)

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  74. My mind does wander sometimes as I pray when I am really tired. It's hard to be still

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  75. I send up little popcorn prayers all throughout the day. It makes me feel connected and in touch with God all the time.

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    1. That is so true, Liz. And I love the way you call them, popcorn prayers :)

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  76. I'm not a religious person, so it can be hard for me to connect with sentiments like these. However, I see a lot of beauty in religion and faith and I love how you connect it to the beauty of nature.

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    1. I'm glad you can find that comforting, Ronnie. It's hard when something takes us out of our comfort zone.

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  77. Nice post... I am not one to pray but I can relate this relationship to one with exercise. I need to do it because it makes me feel better but getting it done is a chore.

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    1. Thank you, Ashley. Thyat is true, sometimes praying can be a chore.

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  78. I just taught my children a new song about praying at anytime. It truly is a great thing!

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  79. I really enjoy the solitude of praying in my car when I am alone and driving to work. I pray in the morning to thank God for another day.

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    1. Alone time in the car is excelent for the prayer.

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  80. I'm the say way. I'd pray in my head before going to bed, and I always get distracted. But I feel that He knows what's in my heart, and what my hopes and dreams are, so I thank Him in advance.

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    1. That is so true, Marielle. He knows us and loves us, the way we are.

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  81. The self-discipline that is needed to focus on God alone is tremendous, but IS attainable, and I believe you are on the right path to get to that level of Self-Discipline. Reading, contemplating, etc., along with prayer, on a regular, scheduled basis is probably the best way to effect a very good habit of talking to God.

    Some advice if you care to hear it: I talk to God like I would talk to my best friend. Only difference is that i can not visually see God...but I KNOW by Faith that He IS there. So don't worry too much about going a tad off track when you are still developing this habit....it's always a work in progress, both for the NEW Christians, and sometimes even the OLD (Mature) Christians.

    Jus try to remember how awesome it is to be able to commune with God on our own plane, and accept it by faith.

    That's all my input on this. enjoyed the post and definitely understand ya :))
    T/C & God Bless!
    ~S~

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    1. Thank you so much for your advice. I will keep it in mind :)

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  82. The quote from Mother Theresa is an interesting one. Our views on religion are different but I can appreciate the fact that you work on improving your relationship with God.

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    1. Thank you, I'm glad to hear you enjoyed the post.

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  83. Lovely post! I find the best time to pray is at night after the house is quiet and I just can't quite shut off my brain yet.

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    1. Thank you, Cara. I like to pray at night too. The house is all quiet because my son is already sleeping.

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