Prayer 101: Here's How To Talk To God
Growing up in a Christian household, I was always taught that having a relationship with God is important. I'd see this shown through the examples of immediate family members who were never shy about learning and mastering how to talk to God through prayer. For many, it's a way to relieve stress, usher in blessings, have quiet time, and release mental and spiritual baggage. It is also a vital aspect of being a Christian (as reflected in Philippians 4:6) and allows us to humble ourselves before God (2 Chronicles 7:14), gain wisdom (Daniel 1), and open our hearts for revelations and instructions (Jeremiah 33:3). Whew sis, I know that was a lot of Bible verses, but they are a true indication of why prayer is necessary.
I remember being 11 and reading a book by Judy Blume called "Are You There God? It's Me Margaret." It was an eye-opening exploration of a preteen going through a lot of changes—awaiting her first time menstruating, having her first kiss, understanding her parents' interfaith marriage, and facing peer pressure. I'd known a lot about the church's version of connection with God but this was the first time I could directly relate to developing one on my own terms.
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Since then, I've seen so many things manifested in my own life through prayer alone, especially during pandemic-related challenges related to finances, employment, and family relationships. Like literally, after I've prayed, issues were either resolved, on the way to being resolved, or didn't bother me as much as they did before I prayed about them. And there are millions of people who pray at least once a day. Many successful leaders can even attest to the power and importance of prayer, from Oprah Winfrey and Beyonce, to Denzel Washington and Chance the Rapper.
You don't have to be perfect, a minister, super-sanctified, or super-educated to pray. All people are welcome to talk to God (1 Timothy 2) and to be blessed by communicating with Him (Matthew 5:6).
If you find yourself stuck on how to talk to God or you need to reconnect, try these 5 steps that have been helpful in my journey:
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1. Talk to God, frankly, about your thoughts—or even doubts—about prayer.
It might seem strange at first, but I've found it helpful to simply go to God as if I'm talking to a trusted loved one. I mean, He is indeed our Father (1 Corinthians 8:6), so why not? You might feel a bit intimidated or silly at first, but go to God and tell him about those feelings. (I still do this. No lie. just the other day I said, "God, I feel super-stupid right now, and I'm mad. Can you please help me to understand and to overcome the anger? Can you help me at least accept and make the necessary changes I need to?)
What's going on in your life? What are you grateful for? What are you confused about? What's bothering you? What would you like to accomplish? Don't get caught up in formalities. (Matthew 6:7 touches on this.)
You can pray with your eyes closed, open, standing, kneeling, quiet, or loudly in a space of your choosing. (I've excused myself at work to go to the bathroom and pray, I've prayed even while someone is speaking to me—especially when I've felt disrespected or "tried" as they say—and I've prayed while in rush-hour traffic, eyes open, of course!) If you feel the urge to kneel, do that. If you need to shout, do that. If you need to cry, let it out. If it's one sentence or a whole hour-long session, that's fine, too. Just have a conversation and be candid. Sit quietly in silence when you can't find the words. You can even write down your thoughts and read those words in your prayer.
If you feel insecure about doing this or think it's not "proper," ask God, "Well, why does 'being proper' matter so much? God, please reveal things to me about the way in which to pray." Take a step forward and God will do the rest.
2. Start with the basics: 'The Lord's Prayer.'
One of the first prayers I learned as a child (other than the usual dinnertime rhyme "God is great, God is good..." ) was "The Lord's Prayer." Jesus offers this prayer in Matthew 6:9-13, and it covers respect of God, forgiveness of others, protection from evil, and coverage of your needs. Throughout my life I've come back to this prayer, and though it might seem a bit formal, it's a go-to for me.
Even at a time where I'd totally turned away from religion and spirituality altogether—and had gotten into some pretty dangerous situations during a dark period of my life that involved a lot of drinking, partying, and tolerating unhealthy abusive relationships—this prayer would be on replay. It was like God had followed me, a phenomenon I'll never forget and will forever be grateful for. It's an empowering prayer, and when I really dig deep into the words and their meaning, I get a sense of boldness and peace.
Other places in the Bible where you can find inspiring and empowering prayers include Psalms 63 (praise), Psalms 51 (forgiveness and redemption), Psalms 30:6-12 (endurance), Psalm 23 ("The Lord is My Shepherd").
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3. Read about the prayer practices and experiences of others.
I'm huge on asking God questions and just questioning any notion that is presented to me. It's part of the reason I became a journalist. (Hey, it was either study media or go to law school.) I used to fear that I'd be cursed or sent to hell for questioning God, but then I found out by reading and talking with people who have a balanced relationship with spirituality that being inquisitive and keeping it real with God is not a bad thing. (And just read James 1:5-6 to see what I'm talking about.) My mom, a minister and someone who has a special nuance with counseling women, used to always tell me, "Janell if you have questions or doubts, talk to God about them. Humbly ask him to open your heart and mind. Ask for wisdom. You will get what you ask for."
Gaining a connection with God is a journey, and reading up on spirituality to learn about the experiences of others often provides confirmation or answers to questions I've posed during prayer. Watching videos or listening to podcasts about people's real-life personal stories involving prayer (such as this one featuring author Priscilla Shirer or the "Behind Her Faith" series and podcast) helped me understand and relate more to the practice of prayer. It also helped to read about how someone specifically applies prayer to their process in facing challenges. (Try stories like this one and these.)
4. Join a prayer group or get a prayer partner.
I used to be totally against prayer groups and hotlines because I'd gotten to a point that I preferred prayer alone and in private, but my sister changed my mind on this. I'd noticed the boost in strength, confidence, and comradery she'd find in praying with other women—whether in person or via phone. The Bible even touts the significance of praying with unity with and for others (Matthew 18:19-20 and James 5:14-15). Listen, any effort done in numbers increases in power, and if you're new to praying, it's good to pray with someone who might have a bit more experience, have a special gift for prayer (1 Peter 4:10-11), and who can prepare us to feel at ease to begin praying on our own.
Tap into your network to find believers to pray with, or try a hotline. The Christian Broadcast Network has an awesome prayer line where you can talk to a live person and make requests, and many local churches offer phone or video prayer services. Utilize all of your resources and have patience.
5. Invest in a daily devotional or prayer resource.
To remain connected to prayer and making it a regular part of your life, having devotionals or other resources is a must. I love books like "Starting Your Day Right" by Joyce Meyer, "When Women Pray" by T.D. Jakes, "Fervent: A Woman's Battleground for Serious, Specific, and Strategic Prayer" by Priscilla Shirer, and "Servant Leadership" by J. Oswald Sanders. This women's devotional bible also is a favorite of mine. All of these books provide positive, easy-to-understand insights on faith, prayer, connection with God, and self-reflection.
There are also a few cool apps out there like Abide (which includes affirmations and Bible-based sleep meditation resources) and Echo Prayer (which offers reminders via phone or email and the option to share your favorite prayers with family and friends.) YouTube has some good prayer resources as well, and one I particularly like and consistently listen to is Daily Effective Prayer.
Prayer is personal, dynamic, and essential, and the way you choose to pray evolves along your spiritual journey. I find joy in the process, continue to seek God even when I've fallen off a bit, and strive to do whatever it takes to become stronger and stronger in the practice of it. I hope you will, too.
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How Content Creators Hey Fran Hey And Shameless Maya Embraced The Pivot
This article is in partnership with Meta Elevate.
If you’ve been on the internet at all within the past decade, chances are the names Hey Fran Hey and Shameless Maya (aka Maya Washington) have come across your screen. These content creators have touched every platform on the web, spreading joy to help women everywhere live their best lives. From Fran’s healing natural remedies to Maya’s words of wisdom, both of these content creators have built a loyal following by sharing honest, useful, and vulnerable content. But in search of a life that lends to more creativity, freedom, and space, these digital mavens have moved from their bustling big cities (New York City and Los Angeles respectively) to more remote locations, taking their popular digital brands with them.
Content Creators Hey Fran Hey and Maya Washington Talk "Embracing The Pivot"www.youtube.com
In partnership with Meta Elevate — an online learning platform that provides Black, Hispanic, and Latinx-owned businesses access to 1:1 mentoring, digital skills training, and community — xoNecole teamed up with Franscheska Medina and Maya Washington on IG live recently for a candid conversation about how they’ve embraced the pivot by changing their surroundings to ultimately bring out the best in themselves and their work. Fran, a New York City native, moved from the Big Apple to Portland, Oregon a year ago. Feeling overstimulated by the hustle and bustle of city life, Fran headed to the Pacific Northwest in search of a more easeful life.
Her cross-country move is the backdrop for her new campaign with Meta Elevate— a perfectly-timed commercial that shows how you can level up from wherever you land with the support of free resources like Meta Elevate. Similarly, Maya packed up her life in Los Angeles and moved to Sweden, where she now resides with her husband and adorable daughter. Maya’s life is much more rural and farm-like than it had been in California, but she is thriving in this peaceful new setting while finding her groove as a new mom.
While Maya is steadily building and growing her digital brand as a self-proclaimed “mom coming out of early retirement,” Fran is redefining her own professional grind. “It’s been a year since I moved from New York City to Portland, Oregon,” says Fran. “I think the season I’m in is figuring out how to stay successful while also slowing down.” A slower-paced life has unlocked so many creative possibilities and opportunities for these ladies, and our conversation with them is a well-needed reminder that your success is not tied to your location…especially with the internet at your fingertips. Tapping into a community like Meta Elevate can help Black, Hispanic, and Latinx entrepreneurs and content creators stay connected to like minds and educated on new digital skills and tools that can help scale their businesses.
During a beautiful moment in the conversation, Fran gives Maya her flowers for being an innovator in the digital space. Back when “influencing” was in its infancy and creators were just trying to find their way, Fran says Maya was way ahead of her time. “I give Maya credit for being one of the pioneers in the digital space,” Fran said. “Maya is a one-person machine, and I always tell her she really changed the game on what ads, campaigns, and videos, in general, should look like.”
When asked what advice she’d give content creators, Maya says the key is having faith even when you don’t see the results just yet. “It’s so easy to look at what is, despite you pouring your heart into this thing that may not be giving you the returns that you thought,” she says. “Still operate from a place of love and authenticity. Have faith and do the work. A lot of people are positive thinkers, but that’s the thinking part. You also have to put your faith into work and do the work.”
Fran ultimately encourages content creators and budding entrepreneurs to take full advantage of Meta Elevate’s vast offerings to educate themselves on how to build and grow their businesses online. “It took me ten years to get to the point where I’m making ads at this level,” she says. “I didn’t have those resources in 2010. I love the partnership with Meta Elevate because they’re providing these resources for free. I just think of the people that wouldn’t be able to afford that education and information otherwise. So to amplify a company like this just feels right.”
Watch the full conversation with the link above, and join the Meta Elevate community to connect with fellow businesses and creatives that are #OnTheRiseTogether.
Featured image courtesy of Shameless Maya and Hey Fran Hey
Snoop Dogg’s Daughter Cori Broadus Shares How She Navigates Online Hate With Her Fiancé's Support
Over the last few years, social media platforms, mainly Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, have been used to highlight important moments in one's life, including personal and professional achievements.
But unfortunately, for some, this experience can be seen as an adverse one stemming from the negative comments on one's page. One person in particular who has endured the dark side of social media is Cori Broadus, the daughter of veteran hip-hop rapper Snoop Dogg. The model has revealed in the past that she has been cyberbullied for years over her physical appearance and relationship with photographer Wayne Duece. Some of these remarks ultimately led to Broadus' mental health struggles and a suicide attempt. But with the support of her family and now fiancé Wayne Duece, she overcame the pain.
Broadus and Duece, who have been together since August 2018, got engaged last year. During her appearance on The Karamo Show on April 6, Broadus opened up about the negative reaction she received from social media users after announcing her engagement online and the overall lesson she wants to share with others.
Broadus On Her Engagement
The 23-year-old shared that something that was meant to be a joyous occasion in her life turned out to be the "saddest" after revealing the news online because of the comments surrounding how she looked and Duece's loyalty.
"It made me very sad because, like, this is a happy moment, you know what I mean. This is something I wanted to share with the world. I actually waited like a day because I knew just being in the public eye, you know, people are going to say things. Whether you post something good or you post something bad, it's always going to be somebody who has something negative to say," she told Karamo Brown. "So it really brought me to a place where I don't wish on anybody because it's supposed to be the happiest moment of my life, but when I read the comments, it made me the saddest girl in life."
Further, in the interview, Broadus mentioned some of the trolls' remarks. The list consisted of many accusing Duece of using her because of her father's celebrity status and others talking about her weight and skin tone. Broadus added that the changes she has gone through with her physical appearance are because of her lupus diagnosis.
Cleveland Clinic describes lupus as an "autoimmune disease that causes inflammation and pain" throughout an individual's body. Depending on the specific type of lupus one is diagnosed with, it could negatively impact the individual's vital organs ranging from blood to the brain. The site also states that there is no cure for lupus. One can adjust to living with the disease by managing one's health and taking medication, to name a few.
Broadus was first diagnosed with lupus by a medical professional at 6 years old and stated that due to the condition and the prescribed medication, her weight would fluctuate, and her skin tone would change.
Broadus On Accepting Her Weight And Her Skin Tone
As the topic shifted to colorism and weight, Broadus expressed feeling like an "outcast" from her family and friends because she had darker skin and a rounder appearance.
Broadus also recounted moments where she would lie in bed with her mother and cry because she didn't want to be "dark" or "big." During one of those times, the entrepreneur stated that she had "to learn how to just love" herself regardless of what anyone says.
"I used to cry to mom 'like I wish I was lighter.' I was 12 years old, crying in the bed to my mom like boohooing. Like, 'I wish I was lighter. I wish I wasn't dark. I wish I wasn't big,' she said. "I started gaining all this weight because I was put on steroids, and you know steroids make you hungry and make you eat. I love to eat regardless. So that's just kind of where all of that just came about. I mean, even to this day, I still look at myself sometimes, I just have to learn to just love me for me naturally."
Broadus continued that despite her lowest moments now as an adult dealing with the discoloration of her physical appearance because of lupus, she still tries to find the positive by using encouraging words like "you're still beautiful."
"Like right now, my skin is going through a hyperpigmentation from my lupus, and there are some days I just looked in the mirror and cry like, 'why is this happening to me?' But it's like you're still beautiful. You're okay. You're going to love it. [If] this is the new her, you got to just embrace it," she stated.
Broadus Advice To Others
Broadus disclosed that despite all she has gone through with cyberbullying, she wants others to know that the only person's opinion that matters is their own. She went as far as to say once an individual becomes comfortable with themselves, that is the only time their negative view would change.
"My goal now is to talk to young women, talk to young boys, so this stuff can be instilled in them when they're younger. Because if I had this stuff instilled in me when I was younger, whatever anybody had to say about me wouldn't have mattered — because I know how I look, I know how I feel, and I'm fine with it," Broadus said.
To date, Broadus and Duece are still currently planning their upcoming nuptials and have officially set a wedding date.
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Feature image by @princessbroadus/ Instagram