For the past 20 years I have grown up in faith, beginning my life at a Catholic grade school, Catholic high school and (as you could guess) a Catholic University. Now, I would not say I am a practicing Catholic, or really ever have been, but I have always believed in God and Jesus and have always been taught the basics of prayer.
Growing up I would see things online about “What to Do if You Don’t Know How to Pray” and I would always think it was kind of dumb. These thoughts would be along the lines of “who the heck does not know how to pray, you just say what you need or are thankful for in your head and that’s it.” But recently, I have learned that how much more prayer is and with that knowledge my life changed.
Learning to really and truly pray was not easy for me, and I can probably count the times I seriously had a personal prayer with God on one hand (each time in a crisis situation; from breakups, to my Nana passing away, to making college decisions). Prayer was never really part of my daily life but this year I decide I wanted to change that. I started praying every day but wasn’t feeling much different. My prayers were all the same and pretty generic “thanks for this, thanks for that, sorry I haven’t been a great Christian, help with school and soccer” and then I would doze off and go to sleep. I felt like I was wasting time and that my faith wasn’t growing and my relationship with God had not moved. And then one day I really embraced the prayers I was saying.
I read a quote somewhere that said, “If you woke up tomorrow and only had the things you thanked God for today, what would you have?” and that’s where my true faith journey started. I began to make prayers personal, thanking God for not only my life and my education but for the opportunities he has given me, the people he put in my life and the love that I feel every day. I started to actually make things personal and open my heart back up to hear him, too. Gratitude helped me form my relationship with God immensely and made it easier to ask him for help when I was struggling.
This is something I never knew how to do and have always felt like I should be doing more than just asking God for help (and that asking God for help should, realistically, be a last resort) wither it be school or relationships or sports. But when I started being grateful it began to be easier to be needy. (This not only went for my relationship with God but my relationship with other people as well). It was so much easier to have a conversation with Him when I was not only asking for what I was struggling with, but being grateful for then many things I had from Him. I finally understood the concept of really opening my heart to what he wanted and was expecting from me.
The way I asked for help changed to, it was no longer “keep this person in my life” or “let me get the grade on this test”. I was now asking for guidance in a way that was more “let me make the best decision regarding my life and their life” or “have me be as successful as I deserve to be based on how much I studied.”
This year my life has been very different than in any year prior, I have been making major life decisions regarding my future, school has gotten really hard, I have had to let people go who I thought would be here forever and I have struggled with feelings of affirmation. And without prayer, I don’t know how successful I would have been.
Turning to God for the first time was terrifying, putting all my trust in God was terrifying and believing that every single thing he does is in my best interest was a really hard concept for me to grasp but once I did, there was a major change in my life.
Someone said to me last week, “Remember He is putting you through this for a reason. Trust in Him.” And that’s made the tough times a little less tough. Even when I feel the most alone, I know I am never really seriously alone. Having the ability to turn to God whenever you need, and no feel guilty has altered every aspect of me.
God never leaves, and opening up a bible every once in a while will not solve every problem I have, but opening my heart and my life to God has made my life so much easier and so much more fulfilling. My prayers are not always granted fully and life is defiantly not perfect, but I know there is always somewhere there for me.
It did take twenty years for me to learn to talk to God, to truly have a conversation with him and not only ask but to be grateful for every single thing he does for me and it has made me not only a better Christian but also a better friend, student, teammate, sister, girlfriend, daughter and person.
“Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares about you” 1 Peter 5:7