Religion has played a huge part in my life. It comes in many forms and has changed so much over the years. I wouldn't call myself very religious, although I like to think of myself as a spiritual being. I don't go to church, but I'm not opposed to it and I truly believe that I can find solace in any house of worship, because I believe that God is with and within us always. In saying all of this, I do pray heavy. I try to speak to God daily. Maybe even a few times, even if I'm just asking Him to be a fence between me and the forces of evil (aka dumb people). However, at thirty-nine years old, I still find great curiosity in most things F A I T H F U L.
When I was a child, my family traveled through two boroughs on the train (with transfers) to go to church with my grandmother every Sunday. Sometimes more than once a week for bible study and or a church event. I watched well dressed ladies catch the holy ghost and fall to the floor with devotion. I would look at them in disbelieving amazement. I remember thinking, "Jas, watch what you say in your mind because God can always hear you. Most of all when you are just thinking; he hears you. He knows your heart." I spent a lot of time being silent and watching due to these mental warnings. I perfected looking at the spectacle with limited facial expressions. My eyebrows would dip and I would glance at my brother, Alex or my sister, Tory to see if they were watching too. Most of the time they would be looking right at me waiting for us to share a smile or muffled snicker in unison. However, even my siblings seemed more devoted than I, by far. They would actually put their hands up in praise (which made me feel like a phony) or go to alter call willingly at a young age, just because it was in their hearts to do it. I would silently be annoyed if a hand guided my small shoulder to the front of the church. I much more preferred to be the only member in the audience watching the rest of "the flock" get prayed over and anointed with the oil...I used to think, "What qualifies people to anoint oil anyway?" Insert eye-roll. PLEASE (Kanye voice).
My ultimate favorite was hearing people speaking in tongues. It sounded nothing like the other languages that people from other countries would speak. I would wonder, "Do they take a class to all speak the same way? Why does it sound like they are only recycling about ten words?" What I was made to believe (I hope I don't explain this incorrectly) was that the people who spoke in tongues were the ones that got a visit from the spirit of God and they were open to this gift that was bestowed upon them. A power of giving a message to the people of any given congregation (or prayer circle) that wanted to get a message from on high. It was usually translated after the tongue was spoken - so that the rest of the wayward people (the ones being prayed over) would be enlightened. I was always secretly waiting for someone to be exposed for being a tongues fraud. It never happened. Clearly they stick together.
I'm not proud that I question what people say or how they feel about their sanctity. However, I can only think like Jas.
Afterall, God knows my heart.
Now as for me, my favorite place to pray is in the shower. It's always been like this. That is my quiet time away from everyone, where I'm stripped of all clothing and guilt. It's my time to have the arguments that I wasn't perfect at earlier in the day. It's my place to pour out my heart or my lack-luster vocals. Therefore, it seems the proper place to speak to "My Father". Now, I know that some of you will be appalled, but I'm quite sure that many of you will relate.
I usually start corny, like, "Hey God, it's me, Jas." Think Judy Blume's, "Are You There God, It's Me, Margaret" - which was my only favorite book when I was about twelve - and in this very moment, I realize who taught me how to pray (Aha!). Shout out to Judy Blume. Nothing formal. I just go in with the problem or what I'm thankful for. There is no rhyme or reason, because one is not truly necessary. YOU ARE SPEAKING TO AN ALMIGHTY POWER THAT KNOWS THE REAL YOU! In saying that, sometimes I curse, "that bitch so and so" and promptly apologize, because respect for God. But, I give him Jas and in turn he gives me the peace that I'm ultimately searching for.
This article is for all the peeps out there who never perfected prayer. The one's of you who've listened to others pray and get chills, wishing that you could lead in prayer with the same words, but as soon as you heard them you quickly forgot, but you know they were good because, goosebumps linger. This is for the ones who dread when it's their turn to pray in public or who passes the buck even when family is at your home eating your meal. If you know the etiquette of this please inbox me. I want to be enlightened. This is for those of you who still end a prayer with "Forever and Ever Amen", but you're full grown like me.
Basically, stop doubting yourself. He hears us all and we don't speak the same and He loves it just the same. Don't forget to pray in your own way.