Learning to Pray Again

I remember how strange it seemed. Foreign to me. Familiar to others.

Prostrate prayers before the Lord, face-down on my red quilt, pointed eastward toward Jerusalem. It was her challenge to us following the Raleigh Living Proof Live event I’d attended. It soon became my default.

At first it was awkward, almost ridiculous at times. I felt odd, uncomfortable, and out of place. Was I doing it right? Where should I put my arms? How should I begin the conversation with God? But I kept to it, this horizontal approach to Jesus. Days turned into weeks, and weeks collected as months. With little fanfare, face-down praying slipped into my daily routine as habit.

And I loved my prayer time with Jesus.

But then one September morning in 2010 I stopped. Cancer interrupted my routine, and out of necessity, I traded in my face-down prayers for upright ones. I folded my red quilt, stored it neatly in the blanket basket, and promised God I’d get back to it as soon as I could. As soon as the scars healed. As soon as my knees gave me permission to bend without pain.

It’s been three years now since I’ve hit the floor in reverence. And while my scars have mostly healed and my pain has lessened, the quilt (for the most part) remains folded, used on occasion for warmth by other family members.

And I’ve suffered in my prayer time with Jesus.

What I used to love, I no longer craved. What I used to practice, I no longer pursued. What I used to know, I no longer remembered.

Until last week.

While sitting around the table with new friends discussing Bill Hybel’s book on prayer, I remembered what I used to love, what I used to practice, what I used to know. Last week, I recalled my red quilt, the intimacy of face-down prayers shared with the Father, and, with a contrite heart, I remembered my promise to him … to get back to it as soon as I could.

As soon as I could came and went a couple of years ago. What once felt so impossible—this stretching out of flesh before the Father—was made possible again by his healing hands. Sadly, I let it slip by without notice. A habit not pursued is easily forgotten, replaced by what’s reasonable, what’s comfortable. All too often, what’s reasonable and comfortable is a formula for complacency – a last-luster, dulled approach to connecting with life … to connecting with Jesus.

Not wanting anything dull and lack-luster as it pertains to my life with Jesus, I went in search of the red quilt last week. I found God’s East, and I laid down toward it. Scars to the ground, stretched out and head bowed low before the King. Not ridiculous this time around; instead, more readily embraced. Old habits remembered (especially the ones that are sweet) are ones willingly reinstated.

And, once again, I loved my prayer time with Jesus. This is how I will move forward in my conversations with him. This is where I will meet him in the mornings. Not out of obligation, but rather out of privilege.

I am able, so I will. Scars and all. Stretched out and stretched thin. Face to the floor. Heart to the heavens. This is, indeed, sweetness to my soul.

Peace for the journey,

What about you, friend? Do you love your prayer times with Jesus? What sweet habit of prayer have you learned? I’d love to hear more.

26 Responses to Learning to Pray Again

  1. Jesus and I talk when I walk or swim for exercise. I love the face to the floor prayer. I have done that in times of extreme need or times of overwhelming emotion, but never on a daily, consistent basis. I just may incorporate that into my prayer time. I think it would add so much to my time with Jesus. Bless you, my friend, for being one who sharpens her friends.

  2. You have given me many thoughts to ponder with this post…I have mixed up that complacency formula one two many times myself…and although I have a special corner chair where I talk with the Lord every day, prostrate praying has been in the back of my mind for a long time…I remember vividly an early morning prayer time in June of 2011 when words just wouldn’t come…my heart was so heavy and all I could think to do was lie down on the floor in complete submission…God heard…He answered…

    Thank you, Elaine, for blessing me with your words…yet again….

  3. wifeforthejourney:

    What a joy it is to experience our own “great awakening” since our move. For all the earnest prayers that went up during our last season of life, there was such hurt. The worship service at our sister church in Maxton last night was another reminder to me of how good it is to be in God’s presence.

    Thank you for your witness to me and to our family in and through your own commitment to pray. I am thankful for this chance to make a fresh start!

    ~ Billy

  4. The wonderful blessed truth is that the prayer mat is just as fresh today as it was those months ago. My place is a good old rocking chair, I am on the lookout for one now, as the old one is gone. There is something about the rocking motion that lets me pray my heart so clearly. I’m so happy your mat is back out of the basket!

  5. This is beautiful. I’m in the middle of “experiencing God” (for the 5th time) and being reminded of the intimate love that our Father has for us. I’ve traded that love for navel gazing these that months. but I’m ready to move on from that place and learn the freedom that comes from really following God and His joining Him in His work. My favorite spot for prayer is either next to a vast body of water or a fireplace. =)

  6. This morning I too got down on my knees in prayer. I usually sit in my chair with my Bible, journal and pen for my quiet time. But this morning, I knelt on my knees. It is good to be prostrate before Him. So glad that you are well enough to get on your knees Elaine. He has taken you through the cancer and many challenges recently. Nothing is impossible for Him. Isn’t it amazing that He cares to hear from us and that He loves us so?

    Blessings and love,

  7. How beautiful, Elaine! For me to be witness of your years and be encouraged by your strength. To read these words as an example of what it is to persevere and to stand firm and in no way implying that any of it was easy. Thank you for sharing this today. I think I will go find my red quilt.

  8. I love this, Elaine. And I am chagrined to admit that I think I have only been *on the floor* a couple of times in my life. I am challenged by your words to do it again.

    I find myself praying often throughout the day, and it so helpful to me to be in constant communication. Some prayers are “big,” some are just “arrow” prayers. But, the overwhelming comfort is this – there is a God who bends low to listen, who hears my cries, and cares deeply about everything I have to say. So blessed.

    A recent bout of insomnia has me praying in the middle of the night. There is a special intimacy between God and me when I am all alone in the dark.


    • Getting on the floor isn’t for everyone. It’s what works for me, but even in that, I must be careful to guard the heart and stay focused on my prayers. Whether I’m upright or face-down, prayer is what keeps me connected to the Father. There is a special intimacy afforded us during these special times.

  9. Clearly the posture of your heart is finding its mirror in the posture of your body. THIS is what the Lord sees and knows–He alone knows what goes on in “the secret place”.

  10. Wow. Such a beautiful, tender post on prayer. We have had a lot of teaching from our pastor regarding prayer, and he has talked to us about “praying on our faces.”

    In all seriousness, this is a challenge for me. I readily bend my knees and bow my head before God in prayer, but I struggle with staying awake whenever I lie down. I don’t mean to be irreverent or disrespectful…I guess I’m just worn out! I’m not giving up on this, though. I’ll keep you posted…

  11. Such a poignant, well-written post.


    “A habit not pursued is easily forgotten, replaced by what’s reasonable, what’s comfortable.”

    So, so, so good. And so true. Sweet wisdom.

    May the Lord reveal Himself to you – like never before – in those moments face-down in prayer. Yes, Lord!

    Many thanks,
    Kate 🙂

  12. Love how you said you’re meeting him not out of obligation but out of privilege. How very true. It’s privilege no matter our posture or place, isn’t it? I love my prayer and worship times with the Lord. I love to sing to Him each morning, and you’ve read about my Sacred Minute habit over on Nancy’s blog this week. As I move into interceding for others, I do struggle with a feeling of duty rather than delight at times. But I know that intercession is hard work so I guess it’s not unusual to struggle with it. God bless your times of sweet communion with him, Elaine!

  13. I’m a Walkee-Talkee sort of pray-er. My head is clearest when my nostrils can take in God’s elixir ~ a rare blend of fresh air/mowed lawns/Pine trees/moist soil & blooming things. I have often thought it would be beneficial to add a time of humble prostration to the equation. You’ve given me something to ponder.

  14. Your honesty–helped me. I’ve been stuck. It’s not a good place–it is a place of “what do You want me to do?” sort of thing…and with a big change of routine–I found myself neglecting my favorite place…especially as we moved 2 Octobers ago–and my couch with it’s perfect place for prayer had to be sold because it wouldn’t fit in our “downsized” house…so there I have been…wondering from place to place in the house…looking –searching for the BEST place to talk to Him. And your open heart just gave me clarity in the place I long for the most. Elaine, YOU are a blessing. Every click of the key.

  15. Sadly, and with guilt, I admit my prayer time has been on the fly since Mark’s passing. I’m not sure why, there was no physical reason to stop, no physical scar I was attempting to protect, no, just a stopping of a necessary appointment in my day. While lying in bed, in the wee hours of this morning, I was begging God to speak to my heart, to allow His words to penetrate my emptiness, to touch me in a way I have so longed for in these lonely months. Possibly today, as I read your words, an answer, a reminder of purpose, to cultivate a place where growth can once again be plentiful! Prayer, real prayer, must become my passion and maybe then, and only then, will purpose finally be restored to this empty, broken vessel!!

    • Just keep talking to God, Cindy, no matter the posture of your physical body. Just keep talking. You bring the Father pleasure when you speak your heart to him. I know he is listening intently. May his certain peace cover you this day as you seek more of him. I’m praying the same for myself.

  16. Elaine…..your post blessed me. “Stretched out and stretched thin” oh yeah I relate to that so much. I treasure my morning prayer times, which I started out a few years ago, and that turned into a blog! And a side note, where did you get that picture of the open door with the candles? I love that! I am so glad you found your red quilt and prayer time again 🙂

  17. Elaine, if you haven’t noticed, I am catching up on your post! Words you wrote on July 30th permeate my soul…”What I used to love, I no longer craved. What I used to practice, I no longer pursued. What I used to know, I no longer remembered”…and His Spirit nudges me with “move forward by coming back”. Craving, practicing, pursuing Him anew, but like before and better. Emotional scars and all. I needed this so very much.

    This morning I read Ps 43. After each stanza there is “Selah”. And I am reminded, after each change in life there is “Selah”. You and I know “Yahweh of Hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold” (vs 11). I too must learn to talk to Him again. Like before. I am more broken, more in need, more submitted.

    Thank you friend. Pamela

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