When I first returned to prayer a few years ago, my life was in turmoil.  “Simplifying”  became my priority.  First, I made some difficult changes in my personal life, then I had a moment to focus on my prayer life.   I didn’t even know how to pray at that point.  I didn’t know what I believed.  So I looked up prayers – where else?  – on the Internet.  And I found some lovely standard prayers that gave me comfort during a difficult time.

How can someone who doesn’t belong to a religion recite “rote prayers?”  Well, as with everything related to my faith,  I’ve been open to good ideas that work for me.  It doesn’t matter where they originate, only that I’ve been able to derive benefit from them.

It’s not often that I recite standard prayers, but when I do, it’s usually the “Our Father.”  Over the years, I’ve tried to make my own prayers as concise as this great standard.  For a while, I had a rule for my own prayer practice of keeping them to five words.

All my needs are met.

God is on my side.

Then I got it down to two:

Trust God.

God’s good.

All’s well.

But I realized that it doesn’t matter what sort of casing you put it in; prayer is really already written on the heart.  Words are just intentions, dressed up.  Impulses to improve your lot in life, to help your neighbor, to care for your children… all of it starts in the heart, snakes up to the head, and trickles down into your hands as you clasp them in prayer.

A simple prayer a few years ago completely changed my life:  “Help me.”  And really, isn’t that the essence of every prayer we ever send?  Help me.  Maybe all it takes is the true desire to change things for the better.  As long it’s from the heart, I believe your prayer will be heard.