Just some things I've been thinking about...
Growing up a PK, you tend to 'know' all the answers. Folks act like you should have it together, so most of the time you pretend you do...it's easier that way. At least that's how it was for me. I played the pious part and, though I do admit there was a lot of sincerity on my part, there was also a lot of playacting and guessing. I began my conscious effort to live for and in Christ at a young age, seven, but was somewhat hampered in growth, I think, because of my tendency to hold things in, and flounder around on my own instead of humbling myself and asking. I still do that a lot, it's hard on my pride to admit I don't know. :)
One thing that always bothered me about my Christian walk was prayer. I read countless books on prayer, and never seemed to get it. Why do we pray? Does it really do any good? How can you remember to pray every day? How to you make the time? How much time do you spend in prayer? It has only been recently, in the last few years, that I have finally felt like I know what I'm doing. That God has given me this means of communication with Him to not only strengthen my faith, but others' as well.
I think what I always had the hardest time with was reading about all these great Saints [note: my use of the word, Saints, includes living Christians as well as dead] who would spend hours on their knees. Who would, when they prayed, feel the nearness of their Savior. Who would also see great things happen because of their faith. Me? I can't kneel for long because of knee trouble. One strike against me. I would begin well, following some pattern or other, but then my mind would begin to wander, or I'd fall asleep. Two strikes against me. I rarely 'felt' anything. Three strikes against me. And, heh...nothing seemed to happen when I would pray. Strike four. How big is a mustard seed, anyway? Huge, I'm telling you! :) But I kept on trying, because I knew I was supposed to.
Communication is vital to any relationship. Husband-wife, parent-child, sibling-sibling, friend-friend, coworker-coworker...if we don't communicate, nothing happens usually, unless it's bad. Talking to one another, writing notes or letters, even physical communication is important, waving, hugging, holding hands. So, I wondered, why do we place so much importance on human communication, and there aren't really any 'rules' to how you communicate with one person or another, but we put God in a box and say that we must do it this way or that? I began to talk to God more. Just conversationally. I'd tell Him about what I was doing, and send quick prayers up for small things....shoelaces that wouldn't come un-knotted, keys that I couldn't find, dinner that wasn't coming along as fast as it should be, that I'd hear from a particular person or other, the loveliness of a flower, the brilliance of the sky, the wind on my face, a kiss from a child....and I began to feel like I had found something that I had been searching for all my life. God should be approached reverently, but He is also our Father. What if (since I live at home) I only talked to my dad at specific times, and not at all the rest of the day? 'Sorry, dad, this isn't our talking time.' It totally didn't make sense. So I really worked on communication with God, and it did take work, it didn't come naturally. I talked to Him sporadically throughout the day, and also just listened. It was wonderful. I began to see things in my life that I hadn't seen before, some good, some bad. I began to want to talk to Him. I wanted to pray, instead of just doing it because I knew I was supposed to. And He blessed me with not only that desire to pray, but strength and growth in my walk with Him. I began to pray for others more, not just when they asked me, but whenever they crossed my thoughts, I would pray for them. I think also my prayers, growing more frequent, also grew less selfish. I had an intense desire to see God's blessing in the lives of others, and to see them share this same joy that I had.
There is a closeness in knowing that God has given us this means of communication with Him. There is something amazing about knowing that even if my prayer is no more than a nearly unintelligible, "Oh God", that He knows. That in my time of quiet listening, I may feel nothing more than a peace and happiness, or I may hear Him whispering my name, reminding me that I am His. There is great happiness in belonging to Him.