Prayer paralyzes me. It's just too much. Too many people in need. Too many world events to consider. Too many personal needs and wants. Too many "oughts" and "shoulds" inside my head. And too many other things, practical things, to get done.
Which is exactly why I need to pray, not as I ought, but as I am.
A few weeks ago, I submitted, once again, to this reality. I had a stack of about 20 prayer cards filled with thoughts and requests for people and places and world events and friends and family and people who read this blog and on and on, and those very well-intentioned cards were keeping me from praying. So I started over. I consolidated my kids into one card. I made one for me. One for Peter. One for other people. And that was it. Intercessory prayer (which is to say, prayer on behalf of other people) began to feel possible again.
Recently, I've tried to start each time of prayer with Psalm 46:10, "Be still and know that I am God." I inhale on "Be still," hold my breath with "and know" and then exhale, "that I am God." I repeat that a few times until my body, mind, and spirit are a little more focused, a little more attentive to the promises and presence of God. From there I move to the prayer cards. I've been praying in short bursts, but somewhat consistently for myself, my family, and three friends who are in the midst of particularly difficult times right now.
I suspect that over time, I'll create more prayer cards because I will feel prompted by God to expand my circle of concern and attention. And I suspect that eventually I'll have to start all over again. In the midst of it all, I try to remember that prayer is a conversation with God, who listens to me as I am. I pray as I am, not as I ought. And God is faithful.