I’ve often wondered if I was praying right. Is there one type of prayer that pleases God more than another?

As a young child, I learned we are to recite our prayers to God out loud, preferably on our knees. Then I found out I could pray to him quietly in my mind, which made my prayers a whole lot more authentic. Then I found out I could pray to God kneeling, sitting, standing or hanging upside down.

He’s everywhere and He hears everything. That’s so cool to me.

But what exactly am I supposed to say to him?

Do I need to start out with a list of all the things I’ve done wrong since the last time we’ve talked? Do I need to include equal parts praise and petition? Does he like it better when I find scripture to back up what I’m asking for or can I just come right out and say it?

I’ve come into a rhythm that works for me in my conversations with God. I bet you have too. But sometimes I like to shake it up and find out how other people do it. So I took a class on praying.

This particular class focused on imagination and prayer as a way to feel closer to God.

The leader asked us to close our eyes and imagine we were standing in Heaven, in front of the throne of God. It’s Judgement Day but instead of condemning us, Jesus is there to simply say, “Welcome! Your sins are wiped away. I have paid that debt for you.”

The angels of Heaven and all the people who have gone there before us begin to sing and cheer and we can feel just how moved and joyful they are that we are with them.

Then, Jesus gets off this throne and walks up to us and hugs us.

The end.

We all opened our eyes and the leader asked for our impressions. I sat quietly, trying to hold on to the beautiful peace I had just experienced.

That’s when a woman spoke up. “I just had a hard time believing that Jesus would want to hug me” she softly said.

Heads nodded around the room.

I was stunned.

All of these people who follow Jesus and try their best to do what he says and they don’t believe he’d hug them?

I started wondering how many other people feel that way. That’s why I’m writing this today.

If you are one of the people who feel like you’re too used and dirty and wrecked and guilty… if you are one of the people who feel like something you did in the past is preventing God from truly loving you in the present, I have three words for you.

God loves you.

If he were physically sitting next to you right now, you better believe he would wrap his arms around you. He wouldn’t be able to stop smiling because he’d be so thrilled to be with you and to see the way you look when you finally see him.

He would radiate love to you and you alone. He would have all the time in eternity to fill you with that love and remind you that whatever mixed up feelings you had about him on the earth were wrong.

I couldn’t say these words to the woman in my prayer class, but I can say them to you.

God loves you.

Imagine how free and peaceful and joy-filled you could spend this day if you only believed those three words above all the other words people throw at you.

It’s true my friend. God loves you.

Practical tip: Try to get your over-thinking mind out of the process of prayer. You don’t need to conjure up the perfect image of God or figure out how you feel about gay marriage or define your religion before you sit down with God. Just talk to him as you would talk to a friend. Ask him to help you feel his love. He is listening and as long as you’re talking to him, you’re doing it right.