Do you ever feel like you’re really just talking to yourself when you pray? Sometimes I feel like my prayers are just getting lost in the atmosphere. Not because I don’t get the answers I want, I feel that way before ever giving Him time to answer. It feels like maybe I’m not focused enough, or that my prayers aren’t passionate enough to “reach Him”.
Other times, I don’t pray confidently. Not that I doubt that God will do what He says He’ll do. I have no problem standing on His spoken promises. It’s when I’m praying about something that He hasn’t specifically promised that I tend to waiver. I sometimes don’t pray with confidence because I know that God sometimes doesn’t cure the cancer, or save the marriage, or provide a job.
It gives me the feeling that God is kind of random. My head knows that isn’t true, but without being able to comprehend His decisions, it can look kind of random from here. So it makes it difficult to pray. Because He could say yes. But He could say no.
I know that God is not random. I know that He has good plans for me and those for whom I pray. But there is sometimes a disconnect between that knowledge and my heart. And it leaves me praying rather boring prayers, and even unfaithful prayers that feel more like desperate wishes.
So I’ve been praying for more faith. I’ve been praying for a clearer understanding of prayer. I pray that I will learn to pray with complete trust and expectation, while fully accepting God’s sovereignty. In essence, I’ve been asking God to give me a rich prayer life; which means a closer walk with Him. I want to “come to the garden alone… to walk with Him and talk with Him..” and to experience the joy of a deep friendship with God.
A few days ago, God got my attention by showing me, in the course of one evening, several answers to my prayers about prayer. First, He showed me that I don’t ever have to wonder if He hears me.
On the way to church Wednesday night (my family had stayed home due to sickness) I listened to one of my favorite podcasts, Inspired to action. This particular episode was an interview with Brooke McGlothlin; author of Praying for Boys. She mentioned a scripture that really spoke to my heart.
“Because He bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath”. *
What a beautiful image; God, leaning down close to me, listening intently as I talk with Him.
And I realized I’ve been right all along. My prayers aren’t reaching God.
No, it’s way better. He is bending down to reach me!
What can be more personal and reassuring than a God who bends down to listen to his child? I many not know what His answer will be, but I can know for certain that He is listening.
I have to “confess” that I didn’t actually go to church that night. Well, I did, but I didn’t stay. Instead, I had coffee with a friend, which in itself was an answer to prayer. (Incase you’re keeping track, that’s two answers so far.) We began talking about our kids, and this and that, and I expressed to her some of the concerns I’ve been working through lately. Her first response to me was something like;
“Pray. Pray, pray, pray. Prayer is the answer to everything.”
And she wasn’t brushing me off, she wasn’t just spouting cliches. This woman is a woman of prayer. She knew she had no advice more potent and effective than to remind me to pray. I’ve heard several stories of how God has worked in her life and those of her husband and children as a direct result of dedicated seasons of prayer. She has taught her children to take everything (really, everything) to God, diligently seeking His will and His council.
We went on and talked about things and yes, shared practical ideas and empathy. And when it was time to leave, she took out her phone. And she set an alarm to remind herself to pray for me at a particular time each day. I don’t know how many of these alarms she has on her phone, but I know there are several. You see, she doesn’t just want to say she’s praying for me (or someone else) she wants to be faithful to that promise and regularly pray. What an awesome example of using the practical tools we’ve been blessed with to put action to your priorities. (Third answer; get practical and set yourself up for success.)
It was such an encouraging time. I knew every word was true, and it was so uplifting to be reminded and to see the joy and peace that comes from a life of prayer. Does she have struggles? Yup. But she knows who holds the answers and she goes straight to Him with her worries.
Driving home I realized that God didn’t just answer my prayer for a friend in our new church. He could have sent me a listening friend, a like-minded friend, an encouraging friend, (and He did). But most of all, (prepare for answer #4…) He sent me a friend who is sold out to prayer. That was not an accident. That was God, tending to the needs of my heart. I knocked, He answered.
I’m sure I may still struggle with feeling like I’m really just talking to myself from time to time. But I’ll remember the image of my God leaning down to bend His ear to me, and I’ll know that He is listening to my every word.
And I pray the same for you.
*The verse quoted was taken from Psalm 116:2, not sure which translation.
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