Do you ever find yourself having difficulty praying? Sometimes, I find myself saying my rote prayer to cover all my bases, but if I really sit down and open myself up to have a heart-to-heart with God, I find myself at a loss for words. Why?
I used to be so uber specific in my prayers and telling God how I wanted things to go and what I wanted Him to do. Obviously looking at my life, we see how well that worked for me. After the death of my husband, I couldn’t pray because I saw with great acuity how little my kind of praying actually worked.
In fact, time and time again God has not let the things I’ve wanted and prayed for happen.
At the very least, He’s not let them happen in the way I specifically told Him to. It actually seemed at times that God was using my prayers by taking so many of my fears and allowing them to happen. So then I got scared.
Would God use my greatest fears as tests? If that were true, then I didn’t even want to pray about my fears. (You know because God doesn’t know everything, just the things I tell him, right?) I mean in my brain, I was logically aware God knows every thought before I even think it, but in my fear, I thought I could keep things safe by just keeping my mouth shut (which for me is tough). My prayers became cursory—just a thank you Lord and please keep my family and friends safe because I couldn’t not pray for them, but I didn’t want to go into much detail.
The words Your will be done were terrifying. I have seen a lot of heartbreak at the hands of God’s will.
What if God’s will means He won’t? What if I have no say whatsoever? So maybe I shouldn’t pray at all? If it’s God’s will anyway, why bother? How many of you reading this are like, “Woah girl, watch yourself”? But seriously, how many of us in that dark part of our brain have thought it?
Look at the world. It can suck. Why does God allow all this bad? You see, we think when we say God’s will be done, we are giving God permission. But read that line again, and you will see it is a declarative sentence—because whether you like it or not, God’s will WILL be done. Period. Exclamation point. End of discussion. Put a pin in it, it’s done.
So why pray? I control nothing. As the mom of a rambunctious 5-year-old, I literally control nothing. But seriously, if God already knows how my story ends then is praying to change any part of it in vain?
So now all y’all are really scared for me spiritually, and I encourage you to pray for me. Seriously, if you are ever looking for someone to pray for please choose me. Why?
Now I am making no sense, right?
I am encouraging you to pray for me after basically seeming to say I have no idea why I pray. But that’s just it. I was praying for what I think were mostly the wrong reasons for so long. At the end of the day, I have always known prayer is important if for no other reason than God allows me to and that is a great privilege. So, rightly or wrongly, I have always prayed and hope that with my last breath, I spend it in prayer. In fact, I hope my last words are the prayer, “Thank you for forgiving me.”
You see I pray every day, I hope. But now I pray differently.
I have always tried to thank God because I think when I have no other words “thank you” is the very least and most important thing I should say. I pray for forgiveness for any day I did not give Him thanks because He deserves my gratitude with and for every breath I breathe.
Now I try not to demand so much, but I ask and try to listen more for an answer without thinking I know best all the time and basically telling God how He is going to bless me. I pray about which road to choose on my way to work. Which decision to make when a problem arises. But again, ultimately, when I allow myself a moment to think about it, I pray simply because I have the honor, privilege, and ability to do so.
You see what I forgot, or maybe never really grasped, was praying is not the rubbing a genie lamp to get what I want. Don’t get me wrong I still throw in those rote things I feel compelled to remind God “I need,” but now I tell it to my Father with the innate understanding that He is good and has my best interests at heart. I think He wants to hear from me and hear what I think I need even if sometimes, as parents do, He disagrees and doesn’t give me what I want.
With the exception of losing Rick, I can look back on every decision He’s made and see what I thought wasn’t kind at the time became a blessing that exceeded my expectations. I also think sometimes He has seen our heart and knew what we would pray for and grants those petitions just because He loves us. Maybe more often, He doesn’t grant them just because He loves us.
You see, sometimes my motivation in prayer is self-serving, but God’s NEVER is.
His motivations are always with a heart full of love and an eye on my salvation. God wants what’s best for me even if it hurts to get me there. Prayer, I have found is the best way to remind me of that. Prayer allows me to focus that the God who holds the whole world keeps an ear open for me and puts my mind on Him and my heart on hearing Him.
I pray because I want to seek His will for my life. I have a loss for words because I have quite simply come to the absolutely profound but utterly simplistic realization that God knows better than me, more than me, and more about me than I ever will. You see God knows my past, is with me in my present, and has seen my future—so who better than God to hold all of those things in His hands?
I’m at a loss for words because I know God loves me, and I don’t want to limit my future by asking Him to grant prayers that are way less than what He intends for me. If I ask Him for the moon and the stars and He grants that petition because I’m so scared to allow Him to work, that is all I will reach for. Bt what if He planned to give me the galaxy and the heavens if I would just trust Him? I don’t want to limit God by saying give me this and I won’t ask for more when what if God may have more planned.
What if I expected God to bless the way He says He will? What if I believed and trusted for that? Because He says the life He gives is more abundant than I can ask or think (John 10:10). And so with that in mind, I try (and desire to try harder) to open my heart in prayer and instead of my list of what I think will give me a great life, I will thank Him for what He knows my life should have in it.
You see my loss of words is not a bad thing because God sees our hearts and hears the things we aren’t saying. Better than that, when we pray, we open a pathway for Him to speak life into us and remind us Whose we are. The fewer words I have leaves more space for His. In a world that is vying for our attention in any way to turn it away from God, prayer is a moment to focus all our cares on Him and turn our attention solely on Him.
I don’t think prayer is as much about our words as it is to remind us what is important.
Prayer is a moment to refocus us on His path and restore our connection. If religion should better be defined as a relationship and the key to a relationship is communication, it stands to reason that prayer is the most important part of our relationship with God so long as we remember it’s not just time to talk AT God, it’s our time to talk WITH God. That is a powerful distinction.
I have a Noah prayer bear that says “your life is a gift and prayer is a thank you note” and really I don’t think I have any words that could say it better than that.
Originally published on the author’s blog