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“Why do I pray for other people and myself?” It’s a question a lot of us ask ourselves and it prompted me to think back across the shape of my prayers, which I had never really attempted.
As far as I can remember, as a child my prayers were mostly for protection. Inevitably, I associated God with my parents. They loved me and cared for me, they protected me and sheltered me. So, most of my prayers were simple and direct. I prayed for God to care for my parents, to watch over my baby brother and sister. I prayed at meals and at bedtime. I prayed when I was scared.
Prayers - Child - Lord - Prayer - Bedtime
The two prayers I remember saying as a child were the Lord’s Prayer and a bedtime prayer. I was required to memorize the Lord’s Prayer — along with the 23rd Psalm — and it was reinforced time and again by church services. As I look back on it, my bedtime prayer was a bit shocking really: “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord, my soul to keep and if I should die, before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.” That prayer, alone, probably explains why so many of my prayers were about protection!
In many ways, my prayer life didn’t really change much as a teenager. Like a lot of adolescents, my fears receded into the background and I was constantly busy – with school, with friends and with plans for the future. I still prayed and some of the patterns that shaped my life as a child hung on. But I dropped the bedtime prayer somewhere along the way, and I also paid a little more attention to the prayers we said in church – sometimes.
Adolescence - Prayers
Late in my adolescence, my prayers began to...
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