What If I Want to Pray, But I'm Not Sure Anyone's Listening?
Even those of us who are convinced that there's no greater power tend to look outside ourselves in times of extraordinary stress. Often it's just Please help this plane land! But when the plane lands, shouldn't there be a mirror impulse of Thank you?
I don't think there's a wrong way to pray. You just bring who you are, and you sort of rip your rib cage open: This is where I'm at, this is who I'm thinking about, this is what I'm thankful for. The most beautiful prayers are generally the ones that happen spontaneously. It's less about escaping the everyday flow of life than engaging with it.
There's evidence that praying can help us physiologically—the stillness, the quiet, the deep breathing. But more important, I think, is the fact that acknowledging some power beyond yourself opens you up in unique ways. Human beings are not static, and the direction of your thoughts deeply shapes the kind of person you are becoming. I believe prayer helps you become your best possible self.
Pastor Rob Bell's most recent book is What We Talk About When We Talk About God.