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Prayer does not come easy for everyone, myself included. It can seem awkward at times while at other times my mind seems to just be blank, but it is a necessary discipline. Discipline seems like such a hard word because we equate it with punishment, but it s a discipline in that it is something we must become well versed in, something we must train in as we would train for a marathon, and something we must continue to grow in each new day just as anyone who is successful in the workplace remains fluid to change with the demands and trends within their chosen field.
Even more than a discipline, though, I have discovered that prayer is a gift. Of course we know that prayer is something we offer to Him – we come to him with our praise and thanksgiving, or missteps and sins, and even the cries and the desires of our hearts. In this way prayer is a gift that we offer Him, but it is even more importantly a gift He gives to us.
Prayer is a gift to us in that when we give our days the root of prayer, when prayer is a foundation, we are more easily a reflection of Him. When we don’t have prayer as an anchor, we veer off the path that has been set before us much more easily, and much more often. Talking to God helps me to better keep my eyes on living like Him.
When I think of the prayer warriors I know, they are calm, gentle, and soft-spoken. I find it hard to believe this is a coincidence, this way in which they are such an effective reflection of who Jesus was each and every day. These words that describe these prayer warriors, these are the words I would want others to use to describe me. Since these don’t describe who I am naturally, prayer needs to be the vehicle I use to make these words the words that others would use to not only describe, but to define me. And believe me, I need all the help I can get to make these words become my words.
Prayer is a tool, an effective tool, that I can use to whittle myself into looking more like Jesus. I love the word whittle. I picture a woodworker with his well worn, deeply creviced, strong yet gentle hands patiently shaping a hard, cold, and steadfast piece of wood into something he sees in his mind. When I picture this scene, I can see his hands, his patent face, and his gentle eyes that seem to reflect what comes to mind when I picture what Jesus the carpenter looked like.
In this same way, prayer shapes me, gently yet firmly, into the person He has created me to be, the person He sees in his mind. It shapes me into the vision He has for me, for the very best me. Although at times prayer can seem so hard and so awkward, prayer is a vital part to whittling down the hard, cold, and steadfast parts of me to form a new creation that is beautifully soft, smooth, and free from imperfection. I find that once I just start, the words seem to come most times, and my day is transformed into something so much deeper and richer than it ever could be on its own. The training I put into developing this skill never comes back void.