My spiritual director introduced me to the pirate method of praying. You don't have to head for the high seas, or wear an eye patch, but you do have to remember "ARRR" (though you don't have to actually say it out loud....)
ARRR stands for:
These steps in prayer are especially helpful to me when I'm responding to something with great emotion. At times, I find (or my spiritual director oh-so-gently points out) that I've intellectually sifted through a problem, but I'm still reacting strongly to the situation. Then, it's time to take it to God in prayer, and "ARRR" helps me in this way:
Acknowledge what I'm feeling.
Acknowledge what I'm really feeling, not what I think I should feel, what I wish I could feel, what I think God wants me to feel. Acknowledge -- to myself -- my true feelings, no matter how irrational, unjustifiable or unpleasant they may be.
Relate those feelings to God. Tell Him -- tell Him what I've honestly recognized in myself. Lay it down at His feet, and hand it over to Him.
Receive what God has to offer me. Is He calling me to forgiveness? To healing? To action? Be open to what He offers.
This is self-explanatory. What did I receive from God in prayer? How will I respond to it?
These steps don't always occur as neatly as I've spelled them out. The "Acknowledge and Relate" stages may stretch out over many moments and sessions of prayer. Sometimes I find that I have to acknowledge over and over again what I'm really feeling about something before I'm ready to move on. So, the "Acknowledge and Relate" stages may include tears and times of simply pouring my heart and my feelings out to our loving God. Because I have to empty myself of my self before I'm ready to receive anything from the Lord.
But, I also have to remember that I can't get stuck in the "Acknowledge and Relate" stages. Reminding myself that I'm in the middle of a process is so helpful, so encouraging. When I've really and truly given up to God all that I've been holding on to, He will be there to pour out new graces that I'll then be ready to receive. Knowing that I'm only two steps into a process wards off despair and nurtures hope.
I know that there will be gifts to receive, and that He will give me the strength to respond to them.
"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." (Phil. 4:13)
No eye patch required.