All I had ever known about prayer is what I call canned prayers. Generic prayers from a book and repeated around me in a Catholic mass. Prayer was also penance. To me penance was punishment for confessed sin. You can imagine that prayer wasn’t a positive thing to me and I sure didn’t believe that prayer was something that I should do outside of church or as penance. When you don’t understand what you are doing and why you are doing it, there is little joy in the practice. However, prayer is a huge part of the Christian life, and I have come to find great joy in it.

One of the things that I am very thankful for is that I was blessed to be able to quit my job in the early days of my walk with Jesus. That first year is when I built my foundation. I grew my understanding, my faith and established a process toward healing and wholeness. Not having to work gave me time to pray. I had a rocking chair and a side table in the front room of our home and that is where I sat for hours upon hours a day praying, seeking God, and doing Bible study. I was ravenous. I wanted everything that was promised to me and I believed that what I asked for would be honored. I cherished this time. This is when and how everything changed.

So how do you pray? Pour your heart out to God, believe he is listening, and know you will be answered. My first prayers were very simple. A crying out for what I desired my life to look like. Bless my husband. Thank you for my children. Thank you for the people in my life who have been examples and blessings to me. My favorite prayer, even today, is “Jesus, help!” I journal a lot of my prayers. The featured photo is of my prayer journals and Bibles. I write prayers in my Bible (yes, you can write in your Bible!). In the first year, I intentionally wrote all my prayers down. The cool thing is that I can go back and see where God answered with a yes and Amen.

My prayers began to transition as I studied the Bible. I started praying scripture for myself and others in my life. I connected quickly with Philippians 4:6-7 (MSG): “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.” I had a lot of worry and concern in my life; it is what drove me for years! Praying about it brought peace.

Eventually your life becomes a living prayer. That probably sounds weird. Life must go on, right? So prayer happened in the car, while exercising, at work, out loud immediately when asked for by a friend. Prayer is a constant, thanksgiving is a constant. In the restaurant, at school, in front of your kids, in front of your unbelieving family, and around your church family. Stand in the strength of your faith and pray! Let everyday life shape what you pray for. A circumstance in your own life, a homeless person on the street, a car crash, an unhappy cashier at the grocery store. It’s all prayer-worthy! Prayer is what transforms your life and the lives of others. It is what brings Jesus into the room, into the space that surrounds you to bring good. It is the power to change the atmosphere.