We all know how to pray -- especially in a crisis, i.e. "God help me." We also have the Lord's Prayer as a model of prayer. We have the acronym ACTS to remind us that prayer should include adoration, confession, thanksgiving and supplication and intercession.
But how do we really pray? How do we put ourselves in the place where we feel the connection to God, where we hear His voice and where we know our petitions are heard? This program, How to Pray in Your Own Way, by Kathy Cowsey, is an attempt to help us discern the cues that help us individually to come to prayer.
The forms of prayer described are sensing, feeling, intuiting and thinking. Each type has a colour ascribed. The colours are purely arbitrary but they make a handy reference. Sensing is green, feeling is red, intuiting is yellow and thinking is blue.
I discovered that I'm a green prayer. That is, I use my senses to tune into God. I look at the beauty of nature, listen to birdsong, smell the roses, taste the honey and touch a water-smoothed rock. I'm overwhelmed by God's power and glory and fall into thanksgiving as easily as I fall into bed at night. From that place, I can then talk to God about my problems, my wishes, my fears. Prayer flows naturally and easily.
The yellow prayer, intuiting, is a foreign country to me but a place of refuge for others. In this method a person goes beyond images and concrete things. Rather (s)he is filled with an awareness of God and a knowledge of God's presence. Close your eyes, recite a bit of scripture or a hymn like "Jesus loves me, Jesus loves me" over and over while you listen for the voice of God in your heart. The Gospel of John presents this type of knowledge or God, e.g. The Word became flesh. How do we imagine "the Word?" John also talks of Jesus as the Way, the Light and the Bread of Heaven. If you're given to flashes of insight, this may be the prayer style that appeals to you.
Both yellow and green prayer are about awareness of God. The red and blue prayers are more about our response to God.
The red prayer is the feeling prayer. It does not rely on logic or debate, rather it is an outpouring of love to the Creator and an awareness of the love that He pours out on us. This is the crisis prayer, "Lord, help me!" a cry from the heart. The Magnificat, and the Prodigal Son are examples of this approach to prayer. Luke, the healer, is the Gospel for those overcome with compassion for the oppressed and awe at the immensity of God's love.
Of course, we all pray in our own way. We'll be green or yellow or maybe purple depending on the circumstances. God hears all prayers and welcomes them. This little exercise in classification is merely a tool to help Christians, especially those new to the faith, find their way past rote prayers and into a close relationship with God.
So, what colour is your prayer?
P.S. This will be my last post to Internation Christian Fiction Writers, exactly seven years to the day. My first post was Nov. 14, 2009. I was one of the original members in 2009 when Lisa Harris proposed this forum to showcase Christain writers who lived and set their stories in places other than the United States. It was heady days then, forging connections with writers in Africa, Australia, New Zealand and other far flung spots in the world. We had only 21 members to begin so our turn came up every three weeks. We even made a cookbook with recipes from different continents.
But that was seven years ago and life has changed. I used the ICFW blog model to begin a blog at my home church. I've self-published my backlist and put out a collection of short stories. I've started my own weekly blog and posted a new profile picture. I felt the previous one was too old to be honest. :-) So, farewell ICFW, and best wishes for the next seven years.
Alice Valdal lives in British Columbia Canada.