Any new relationship begins with some awkwardness, some embarrassingly foolish statements, a fair amount of caution about what one discloses about oneself, missteps and uncertainty as each party to the relationship slowly figures out who the other is and what sorts of interactions will prove fruitful in establishing a connection. So the feeling that “how do I pray, since I don’t have much or any experience with this” is to be expected once the decision is made to commit to regular prayer. If I only know the prayers my church has taught me, if I only know about God what I have heard in sermons and scripture readings, then turning to face God directly with a willingness to see and hear who God is for oneself will inevitably inspire discomfort. We can follow the examples of others who pray, avail ourselves of resources for prayer—but there comes a point, if one truly desires to pray into a knowledge and closeness with God, where all such aids are no longer useful. We then come to God with only ourselves, as we are, offering a prayer that is ours alone.

And such an individual solitary encounter with God is not for the faint of heart. Just how God will choose to come to me cannot be predicted, for God seems to desire a relationship with each of us that is unique to each of us, borne of our own makeup and qualities and life experiences. We need courage and faith to set aside the images of God that others give us and see God in whatever way God will show Godself to us. We can be reassured that, despite having no idea of where and how God will be with us, the experience will be one filled with love. For as God’s own creation, we are already accepted and valued, just as we are.