I recently finished reading a book called Praying Upside Down by Kelly O’Dell Stanley. I tend to gravitate away from books about prayer, because in general the book I need most about prayer can be summed up in one short sentence: “Shut up and pray.” Truth be told, my biggest problem isn’t usually the nuances or the how-tos of prayer; more often it’s about flat-out Not Doing It.
But this book is an exception—it offers something fresh to the conversation about prayer. It isn’t theoretical; it’s a practical approach to prayer. And the author comes at the topic from an interesting perspective, tackling prayer as an artist. Kelly shows what white space, sketching, point of view, and other artistic concepts can teach us about prayer. For a non-artist like me, all of this was revelatory.
If your prayers are starting to feel stale, this book will help you get out of a rut. And if you’re finding it hard to pray right at all right now, this book will help you get unstuck.
One of the things I appreciate most about this book is how the author emphasizes the importance of gaining a new perspective when we’re praying. In art, if you’re not able to capture the piece you want to create, it’s probably time to move to a new position. And the same is true about prayer: If you find yourself unable to connect with God, it may be time to change positions and get a fresh perspective.
Kelly describes something she and a friend prayed about: “When we found a way to get unstuck, God answered. When we tried something new, we saw different results.” Case in point: if everything in your life is hard at the moment and it’s hard to talk to God about it, it may be time to step to the side and take a look at things from another angle.
If there’s a flood in your basement, that means you have a home . . . and a basement to thank God for.
If your house isn’t selling and you’re starting to get stressed about the timing, maybe it’s time to start praying for the person who will buy your house.
If you’re having trouble praying for a situation in your own life, offer to pray for a friend and ask them to pray for you.
Most of all, I appreciate the way Kelly reminds us that ultimately prayer isn’t about us; it’s about God. And he is more powerful and more caring than we typically give him credit for.
The effectiveness of our prayers doesn’t come down to how good our prayers are; it comes down to how good God is. As Kelly puts it, “Just because I had run out of things to do didn’t mean He had.”
Too often, we miss seeing God because we think His answer will look different than it does.
~Kelly O’Dell Stanley