I have been moved to include something really interesting in my personal prayer time. About 2 months ago I introduced a sentence to the beginning of my prayers:
I wish to seek your counsel.
This little addition threw me for a loop. When I prayed those words I imagined entering a huge throne room where my question would be met with a yes or no answer. I had been spending the past few years trying to understand prayer as a communication. I don't say 'Lord' every third word. I don't sell a theology when I lead group prayer. If God is real, then communicating with God must also be real. It was a very humbling experience taking down my defenses and just allowing my real words to come out.
When the sentence entered the picture, it reminded me, I am going to God, and God is coming to me. Yes, it is a real conversation. At the same time, it is me initiating a conversation with the creator of heaven and earth. While stripping away the trappings of prayer taught me humility. This sentence, "I wish to seek your counsel," taught me respect.
It reminds me of Exodus 24. In the scripture, Moses is called to spend some one on one time with God. Alone, Moses and God stayed on the mountain for 40 days and 40 nights. The mountain was surrounded by a cloud that was so glorious it looked like it was on fire. The whole scripture is filled with reverence and awe.
I think American culture has become so much about me-me-me, we forget that prayer is a two way conversation. Yes, I believe God wants us to come as we are, but sometimes that means coming to admit we have not respected the conversation we are having, or hiding behind words instead of just being real. We must remember prayer is a glorious experience. It's in humility and respect we accept that as we simply ask: May I seek your counsel.