coming out from under the guilt

For me, prayer has always been wrapped up in condemnation. Not that it was a conscious thought, but it was always there... underlying my foundational beliefs about prayer. And about myself.

While I've never been one to pray for very long, my mom, on the other hand, was known for her hours-long prayer times. And in a way, it became a measure of spirituality in the brand of Christianity I was raised in.

A measure I fell very short of.

I've been made to feel like a "bad Christian" because of my prayer habits (or non-habits).

I've been told that I'm not spiritual enough because I don't pray for long periods of time. (Along with my insufficient Scripture usage and lack of structured "quiet times"...)

Prayer became yet another area that I'm simply "not enough" in. The guilt always gave birth to shame in my failed attempts to try harder.

So it's something I've had to realign my thinking on. And I find myself still needing to. Often. Because I still feel the weight of those lies.

I want depth and realness in my prayer life to stem from desire, not judgment.

I'm tired of trying to pray more/better/longer/eloquentlier because I'm "supposed to". I'm done should-ing on myself, and I'm done with others should-ing on me too.

Because, let's be honest... Guilt, disapproval, and judgment have only caused me to pray less, not more.

Ironic how condemnation works. Even when it's self-inflicted.

I digress.

There is significant freedom in remembering that God created me as I am, on purpose.

He's not surprised by my "oooooh! shiny!" tendencies when I'm talking to Him. He's not baffled by my inability to sit still for extended periods of time. He's not confused when I pray in short one-liners spread throughout the day.

He knows what I'm like. He's the One who knit me together for God's sake! (No blasphemy intended. He really did create me for His sake.)

And He hardwired me exactly as I am. Intentionally.

I think He loves when I relate to Him out of the uniqueness of my own DNA rather than out of some mass-produced version of how Christians "should" pray.

So today I'm choosing to shake off the shackles of should and supposed to. And I'm giving myself the freedom to discover how God wants to relate to me.

And how He created me to relate to Him.

Which is as individual and unparalleled as my fingerprint.

What are some of the unique ways you can relate to God? Do you feel freedom to connect with Him like that?