The primary mode by which I focus in prayer is through my prayer journal (typically on Evernote). The only rule I have for myself is that I type completely honestly, in whatever sequence the thoughts/prayers come into my mind, no matter how haphazard the output ends up being (trusting that God doesn’t need me to present my prayers in a systematic and organized argument, and that he understands whatever messy stream of consciousness may be in my mind at any time). In this way, I find that I can interrogate my thoughts and emotions honestly in the context of prayer, and also be more open to how God may be shaping my feelings about whatever I am praying about — no matter how mundane. Prayer does not need to be a highfalutin treatise before God; it’s the raw conversation and expression of our emotional state with our friend the King of the universe who understands us and cares about us.
Here’s a recent entry from my prayer journal — I hope it encourages you or is informative for you!

281015

Dear Jesus,

Thank you for this beautiful fall day even though it’s raining and my shoes are wet and I’m probably going to need to shower and change before class. Thank you that I have waterproof boots and umbrellas and all of these creature comforts that cause me to be able to enjoy nature, without the inconveniences that accompany it. Thank you that you’ve brought me into a new day, with a new series of moments to interact with people around me in, that you woke me up today for a reason. Sometimes it’s hard to grasp that reason, mundane as the events in each day of my life sometimes feel — school, cooking, doing homework, chatting with my housemates, maybe booking a car for some future weekend trip (how privileged I am, God — who gets to be able to pray/type like that??), going back to sleep at the end of the day — it’s been a while since I could consistently go to sleep at the end of each day knowing that I’ve impacted someone’s life, that I’ve made some tangible change in the world by my being awake for that day (maybe I’ve just been reflecting less? I don’t know …). Life feels different here in Philly as compared to when I was in college at Harvard, where I had many more responsibilities, was part of so much more intimate a community, where I was much busier and perhaps even much more stressed … it feels like im carrying a lot less weight these few days (and this isn’t a good thing?? Haha Shaun you know how many people would long to be able to release some weight from their lives? But yeah … I’m appreciative for the fact that the pace of my life is much slower now — just reflecting that it’s harder to find direct meaning in each day as a result). I’m not even sure how to describe this ennui that seems to characterize a lot of my life — maybe I’m doing something wrong, maybe I should be much more passionate about reaching out to different people and different groups of people, to form deeper and more relationships here — but given that I’m only here for seven more months, I sometimes wonder how meaningful that would be — it seems shallow sometimes, all these short term interactions? Ah I’m not sure — but thank you that my gripings are so first world, though, God.

I know that there are different periods in life, and I know that you have brought me into this period — I guess the Christianese word for this is “season” — for a reason. Just as you bring me into each day for a reason. Thank you for making life varied, and thank you that you make our lives varied not just due to random chance and coincidence but towards an end, a greater purpose and hope and mission. Help me to be able to view my moments today and all of my days in this way, conscious of your hand in them. Help me to be obedient, to live according to your will and not mine. Because I know that left to my own devices, I would not run my life, go through my days, well.

So yes, as I go through this day, and interact with people, please mold my mind into greater likeness of yours, so that I might be able to think the way you think, feel the way you feel, see people the way you see them, and yes, pray the way you pray. Thank you that you understand my prayers because you became a human being. I’ve arrived at my stop, time to go!

Amen

Shaun Lim ’15, an alumnus of the Ichthus, is currently pursuing a Masters degree in Criminology at the University of Pennsylvania. 

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