Maybe it’s just me…

I am about to ask a question, and I can almost feel the hands going up as I do. 

Who, beside me, struggles to have a healthy and consistent prayer life?

Bam.  There it is.

Honesty.

Imperfection.

Truth.

Recently I started to hear God speak to my heart about prayer. 

I pray often.  I talk to God in conversation throughout the day all the time.  I speak those S.O.S. prayers as needed, on a regular basis.  I pray before my meals, giving thanks.  My hubby and I pause to pray together for those in need in our circle.  I typically pray after I read the word, and before I start my day.

But what I don’t do consistently enough, is stop and commit secluded regular time to prayer.  I don’t journal my prayers very often.  I don’t sit for an extended amount of time on a daily basis with hands folded and eyes closed. 

But that’s what I am supposed to do to be a successful pray-er, right?

And what about the KIND of prayers I pray?  Are they the right kind?  Am I saying it right?  Do I balance my prayers out between asking Him to change things in my life and thanking Him for all He has already done?  Does God even listen? Does prayer even change things? Or am I wasting my time? 

I know a lot of us think those thoughts, even though we don’t voice them out loud.  Not to a friend, not in bible study groups, and not to our spiritual leaders.  But they are there, in our hearts and minds.  (I see those hands again!)

I think it’s possible that we complicate prayer to much.  So much so, that when we aren’t sure we are doing it right, we just don’t do it at all. I don’t have all the answers for you when it comes to prayer.  I already told you that I struggle with “doing prayer right”.  So today we are going to talk openly and honestly about prayer. This isn’t a post about “3 simple steps to a better prayer life”. Or a neat and tidy “A, B, Cs of prayer”. 

Instead, today is a “just do it” kind of post.  No right, wrong or otherwise.  Some simple suggestions to get you going. 

The Animas River, Durango Colorado

If you are like most of us, it’s easy to ask God to fix things.  Asking God is the easy part of prayer.  His Word reminds us that we need Him.  That He desires to draw near to us and to guide us.  God does want us to come to Him with our requests. 

Jeremiah 29:12 makes that clear.  “Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.”

Philippians 4:6 says this; “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done.”

Ever since the fall of mankind (Genesis 3), we have been living in a broken world.  The world we are experiencing currently is not the world that God designed.  And because of that, we struggle.  We hurt.  We have relationship issues.  We have physical and mental health issues. There is tension and strife in all of humanity.  The list goes on.

But God says in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”  God instructs us to come to Him.  That means that He wants to hear from us.  He wants to help us.  He wants us to acknowledge our needs and struggles. 

But did you catch the rest of Philippians 4:6? “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done.”

Ahhhh…..

There’s the missing piece. 

So often, we ask God for his help to right all the situations in our lives that are wrong.  And that’s good!  We need to do that.  But…how often do we remember to stop and thank Him for all the things He has already done?  In my own experience, the answer is not often enough.

Let’s remember that much of the life we are living currently, is because of the prayers we prayed in the past. 

When I begin to thank God for His works in my life, I begin to see all that I already have because of His love.  It’s possible that I could remain in a prayer of thankfulness for a very long time.  Most likely, even longer than I could pray about all that needs to change.

But the key is balance.

Balancing requests with gratitude.  When I thank God for all that He has already done, I am more aware of His goodness and provision.  And when I do that, I am more likely to approach my time of asking with respect and humbleness than with a demanding attitude. 

God has done so much for me.  He owes me nothing but has already given me all I need.  I owe Him everything but have very little to give back in comparison with all I have been given.  Praying prayers of thankfulness may be the best starting place to developing a meaningful prayer life.

Durango Colorado (my trip last week)

See, the thing about prayer is this; Just do it!  Don’t worry about if it is right or wrong, just start.  Talk to God.  Don’t complicate it by trying to be perfect at it.  The more you pray, the easier you will find the conversation becomes.  Prayer is not so much about the words we say, as the heart we bring.  Psalm 145:18 tells us “The LORD is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth”.  He just wants to hear from us, for us to acknowledge our need for Him.  To desire His guidance and love.  To pause from all of our activity and “doing”, to spend some time with Him.

After all, isn’t that how we develop relationships?  By spending time together?  By open communication?  Through sharing and through listening?

As I have worked to develop my relationship with the Lord, I have grown.  He has shown me, over time, those areas of my life that need tweaking.  Recently, that area has been prayer.  And now that I ‘m aware of that, I can’t help but want to improve it.  Not so that God will love me more, but so that I can love Him more.

Maybe, like me, you have a prayer life, but you’re feeling like maybe it’s time to dive a little deeper with it.  Maybe how you have been praying is good, but your heart is telling you that there’s more.  Maybe, you’ve already been thinking those thoughts, and now you are reading this blog post about prayer.  It’s not a coincidence, it’s God.

Here is a super simple pattern for prayer to get you going.

Praise Him: For who He is and all He has done.  Creator, sustainer, all mighty, all knowing, all powerful, gracious and loving Father.

Thank Him: There is so much to thank Him for.  For love, and life.  For His provision.  For the ways that He has answered previous prayers.  For healthy relationships.  For happy times.  For His presence in our lives.  And on and on.

Tell Him what you need, where you are struggling:  Relationships.  Health issues. Financial strains.  Obedience to His word. 

Sister, I encourage you to pray.  It will change your heart.  It will bring you peace and purpose.  No matter how you do it, do it.  God hears you and He desires to draw you closer to Him through prayer.

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” 

Take that step.

“Father, I need You.  I admit that I often neglect You.  That I sometimes ask of You more than I thank or praise You.  But I want to change that now.  Remind me to pray, draw me to Yourself through communication with You.  Give me the desire that I sometimes struggle with, to spend time with You in prayer.  Your love for me is greater than I can think or imagine.  Having dialog with You is a privilege.  Help me not to take that for granted.  Amen.” 

Purposefully,

Shelli

Molas Lake, Colordao (and the Handsome Hubs)

The Meeting

Have you ever been reading along in scripture, and a seemingly unimportant phrase seems to jump off the page straight to your heart? It happened to me today.

Matthew 28 takes place just after Jesus has been crucified, and buried in the tomb. The women who so faithfully followed him, cared for him, and gave of their own finances to support him, went to the tomb where he had been laid. Most likely, they were there to prepare his body more fully for burial, since that had not happened before he was placed in the tomb. They brought spices and the other items with them that were used for a proper burial in that culture. When they arrived, there is a magnificent and beautiful angel of the Lord sitting on the stone that had previously closed up the tomb. Imagine this sight!

They’ve seen their beloved leader crucified. They have witnessed all the incredible events that took place immediately following his death, (the curtain torn in two from top to bottom, darkness falling on the land in the middle of the afternoon, an earthquake and so on) and as they approached the tomb with heavy hearts and possibly a little apprehension over what they knew would be a difficult task of preparing the body (which had already been in the tomb about a day and a half) for burial, they see the angel. I don’t know about you, but that would certainly stop me in my tracks!

Angels always say the same thing when they encounter humans…..”don’t be afraid”. Uh huh. Easier said than done! But he says it here. He then tells them that Jesus is no longer in the tomb, that He has risen from the dead. He reminds them that while Jesus was with them, He had told them that He would do this. So there they are, in shock and awe, and the angel invites them to “come and see the place where He lay”. To check it out for themselves, to prove the claim. After that they are to go quickly and tell his disciples.

And then it happens. That simple phrase. “So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy. Suddenly Jesus met them…”

Jesus met them. I love that. Right in the middle of their fear and confusion, He met them.

Jesus will meet us too. Right where we are, in the middle of fear and confusion. Or hurt and worry. Or questioning and doubt. Or distractions and business. He meets us.

So much of scripture is about God giving us opportunity for relationship with Him. 1 John 4:19 says, “We love because He first loved us.” He reached out first. It’s why He sent Jesus. It’s why Jesus left the Holy Spirit. God desires relationship, with us. And because He longs for His creation to love Him deeply, Jesus meets us.

Right where we are.  Often on the road to someplace else.  He interrupts our lives with His presence, and gives us an opportunity to stop our rushing and pushing, and just be with Him. 

He meets us.   He knows that we are prone to keep rushing, and pushing.  That we are apt to stay wrapped up  in our questioning and doubt.  That we frequently, and often unknowingly, hold tight to our fear and confusion, because in a very simple way, that feels like we are “doing” something.  Reality shows us that we are not actually “doing” anything, but the human mind can be tricky can’t it?  We tell ourselves that by constantly thinking about, or being concerned over a situation, that we are helping.  But we’re not.  The only thing that really makes any kind of difference, is taking it to Him in prayer.

Philippians 4:6-7 “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

By surrendering our worries to His control, then and only then, can we have real and lasting peace.  Most often, prayer does more to change our hearts than our circumstances.  Therefore, bringing peace.

Jesus WILL meet you, on the road to someplace, right where you are.  Will you see Him?  Will you notice the ways that He is stepping into your path?  Will you rush around Him determined to keep going under your own strength?  Or will you stop for a visit, and allow Him to speak to your heart?  I hope you will. 

“But let the godly rejoice. Let them be glad in God’s presence. Let them be filled with joy.”  Psalm 68:3

When Jesus meets us, we are in His presence, and we are filled with joy.

Meet with Jesus today.  He will meet you, but you can arrange the meeting too.  You’ll be glad you did.

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay