Some of you have probably heard of the four learning styles — Visual, Auditory, Reading & Writing, and Kinaesthetic (hands-on). These are the ways that different people best learn new information, process it and express it. More and more, schools and colleges are valuing the different learning styles, understanding that not everybody fits the cookie-cutter formula for learning and that variety is key to bringing out the best in learners. But this approach doesn’t just extend to young people in the classroom; our prayer lives deserve the same attention.
Growing up in church, I struggled with prayer. I’ve never been good at sitting still for more than a couple of minutes and to me, prayer was something that you sat and listened to church leaders do at the beginning and end of the service. In my teens, prayer became something to tick off my list before going to bed: brush your teeth, scroll one last time through social media, lights off, pray (and hope that you don’t fall asleep mid-way again). It wasn’t until I was a little older that I allowed myself to explore my prayer life for myself, and figure out how else I could get the most out of talking to God. I’d always loved writing, so as soon as I started writing my prayers on paper, in diary form and as poetry, I felt a new connectedness to God that I hadn’t felt before.
There are some people who best connect with God through silence and spoken prayer — traditionally, this is how prayer has been taught and expressed in the church. But for many others, this is a difficult style of prayer to connect with. It’s important that we all find ways to spend time with God, however unique they may be. After all, our God is one of creativity, yet simplicity; time is time and He loves it when we spend ours with him. If you’re like me and have often struggled with knowing other ways of spending time in prayer, here are some suggestions:
Nature is an incredible visual catalyst for prayer. Even as an avid writer of my prayers, I find sitting on the train, watching the view of the sea out the window to be an unbelievable way to connect with God. Seeing God’s standard for beauty through his creations in nature makes me, personally, understand just how beautiful God must think I am; of all the beautiful things that God has created, He has chosen to have a personal relationship with humans. That’s something really special and provides a way to truly reflect on the Lord’s character.
For those that feel more comfortable with headphones on, maybe connecting with God through music, nature sounds, sermons, or guided mediations are your thing. If you commute to work, have some time between classes, or need downtime at the end of the day to just listen to something, this audible form of prayer can be relaxing for many people.
Maybe you’re a writer or a reader. Maybe you find joy in taking time to say what you really mean in prayer, through spending time creatively writing your words to God. Similarly, maybe you love devotionals or reading Christian books.
Finally, often we tend to forget the more unique ways to pray. I met a girl the other day who runs classes for people who need a space to spend time with God through physical movement, such as dance. Others find rest in the Father through drawing, painting, creating music etc.
Yes, prayer is a discipline, but that doesn’t mean we can't enjoy it. In fact, we should enjoy it. Unlike what some of us may have grown up believing in church, prayer not only is a way to show God our devotion, but it’s also a gift from God to us. Through prayer, we find rest. Through prayer, we are brought back to the knowledge that our Father knows all, fears nothing, and is for us through anything. So don’t be afraid to have fun with it!