August 30, 2012 by A Girl Like Me
Goodness, God is good. Seriously… I’m sitting here with a cup of coffee (as always) about to write whatever it is the Lord wants to lay on my heart. About to learn something that will bring me closer to the heart of God yet again. I’m right here with you all taking in each word as if it were the life support to my heart. Like I said before, I not only write to you but I also write to myself. A composition of thoughts that come to me as I type from a God who is way bigger, way better at writing, and way more powerful in love than I could ever be. I think sometimes we liken God’s love to the love we experience here on earth. We get bored with it and than wonder why we’re not excited anymore about our relationship with Him. But the thing that we keep forgetting is that His love is one of a kind. His love is so much greater than the love we could experience from anyone else and we have only just begun to scratch the surface. It’s much deeper, more powerful, and more fulfilling than we could ever imagine. I will never fully understand this love until I go to be with Him, but I can dig deeper into it and discover newness that I may have never experienced before. I need to know the heart of God more. I desire to know His heart more and long to be nearer to Him because he is my life support. Right now I feel as though I am in an empty place, but Praise God that He meets me right where I am and uses me in spite of my mistakes and apathetic heart. Do you want to know the heart of God more? Are you wanting to deepen your relationship with Him but feel at a place of staleness? I invite you to pray.
All week I have felt led to write about prayer. Many of you have come to us with questions and desires to know why we should pray, how to pray, and whether or not it really does anything at all. Especially because God is sovereign and all knowing right? So as I sit here covered by God’s grace I want to bring you into a conversation. A conversation over coffee, a conversation that will lead you to my heart and in turn will lead you to the heart of God. You see.. we all NEED God. He’s not just someone who is supposed to show up when things get hard. He’s not someone that is there to just hear your requests and then answer them at your leisure. He’s not even this person who you should just talk to only when its convenient. He is the one person that we need more than anything in this life. The one person that you absolutely must have a relationship with… because without Him we are lost. We would be left broken and riding a roller coaster of emotions that wind around in circles rather than going somewhere with purpose. We need Jesus and we need to know His heart. Being in a relationship with God must involve prayer. It is a necessity to know Him and a necessity to know who we truly are. As you have heard before, I’m sure, in any relationship it involves two people conversing together. Both need to participate and both need to listen. A beautiful conversation. Just because you can’t see God face to face at every moment… does not mean He is not there. Does not mean that He doesn’t hear you. And does not give you the excuse to live without talking to Him. It’s a supernatural blessing that is beyond a feeling and beyond your understanding. Prayerlessness is the center of all sin. Because it’s saying to God I can do this without You. So let me try and give you some insight and encouragement that will hopefully give you more of a desire to talk to our God.
I believe there are three main reasons why we tend to not pray. One is because we just don’t know how to. Now if you’re sitting there already feeling defeated let me first encourage you with this. When you belong to Christ, His spirit lives within you and is praying for you daily. Even when you are not aware of Him and feel like you don’t know what to say… you have the Holy Spirit speaking on your behalf. That should bring much comfort to you. Knowing that no matter what, you are being prayed for. Isn’t that beautiful? That seriously blesses my heart so much! Romans 8:26- ” Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words!” Woa! With groanings too deep for words! Unbelievable. He is praying to the point of groaning for us! Not only that, God searches our hearts and knows us… which in turn the Spirit is praying according to the will of God. So all of His prayers are for our best!! Seriously, Im sitting here just so comforted and thankful we have a God who knew that we would struggle in our prayer life and therefore gave each of us a prayer warrior to speak on our behalf. His love is so deep. Now, does that excuse us from praying with our own lips? Absolutely not. We are missing out of something great here when we do not join in with the Spirit.
So Here’s a good place to start if you are just feeling like you don’t know how to pray.
Matthew 6:7-13 says- ” And when you pray, do not heap up empty words as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. Pray then like this” Our Father in heaven, hallowed (kept holy) be your name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread (provide for us). And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven (left, remitted, and let go of the debts, and have given up resentment against) our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”
If you’re sitting there today and you just don’t know how to pray I encourage you to start with this prayer. These are words already given to you from Jesus. Read them out loud every day and use them as words speaking to God. It can help shift your heart to a place where it no longer feels stuck but feels softer towards the Lord. I also encourage you to pray out loud. Pray out loud so that not only is God hearing you but you, yourself will hear these words. It’s a powerful thing to pray out loud. I have found that it helps free the feelings to go along with the words. The more often I pray out loud the more often I feel the presence of God. As you pray the Lord’s prayer let it move you to more personal things you want to talk about. Talk to Him about how angry you are, how you just don’t understand what He is doing, allow yourself to feel and just be completely honest with Him. Ask Him anything. He welcomes you as you are with all of your emotions and all your messes and wants you to just let it out! I cant tell you how many times I yelled at God! Seriously! But in those moments of being honest God brought peace and brought a cleansing for my broken heart. So dear girls…let your heart break open before the Lord. We need to learn to pray… it isn’t something that can just come to us sometimes. But let’s learn together.
Let me share this true story with you from Brennan Manning.
“Once a woman asked me to come pray with her father, who was dying of cancer. When I arrived, I found the man lying in bed with his head propped up on two pillows and an empty chair beside his bed. I assumed the old fellow had been informed of my visit. “I guess you were expecting me,”
He said, “No, who are you?”
“I am the new associate at your parish,” I replied. “When I saw the empty chair, I figured you knew I was going to show up.”
“Oh yeah, the chair,” said the bed-ridden man. “Would you mind closing the door?”
Puzzled, I shut the door.
“I’ve never told anyone this, not even my daughter,” said the man, “but all my life I have never known how to pray. At the Sunday Mass I used to hear the pastor talk about prayer, but it always went right over my head. I abandoned any attempt at prayer, until one day about four years ago my best friend said to me, ‘Joe, prayer is just a simple matter of having a conversation with Jesus. Here’s what I suggest. Sit down on a chair, place and empty chair in front of you, and in faith see Jesus on the chair. It’s not spooky because He promised, “I will be with you all days.” Then just speak to Him and listen in the same way you’re doing with me right now.’
“So, I tried it, and I liked it so much that I do it every day.”
I was deeply moved by the story and encouraged the old guy to continue on the journey. Then prayed with him and left. Two nights later the daughter called to tell me that her daddy had died that afternoon. “Did he seem to die in peace?” I asked. “Yes. But there was something strange. Apparently just before he died, he leaned over and rested his head on a chair beside his bed.”
Amazing story right? Ladies, this may seem crazy to you, but I have found it extremely helpful in my prayer life. Why not get a chair and imagine Jesus sitting in that chair. After all He is there. Talk to Him like you were talking to your friend. Tell Him about your day, tell Him how you messed up, tell Him about the blessings and thank Him for what He is doing. Just talk to Him! Whatever comes to your heart. As you do, you will see more of His heart and love for you. And you will also begin to see change within yourself. Which then leads me to my next point.
The second reason I believe we don’t really want to pray is because we know that there will be a change and that freaks us out. A change within ourselves and a change within our lives. We begin to fear the unknown and what God may actually do in us if we begin to know Him more. What if we dig deeper to the heart of God and then we don’t like what we see as His will for us? We would rather remain naive and clueless to what He wants to say to us and then we don’t have to be responsible for obeying if it’s something we don’t desire to do. Am I right? Let me just say this. If you saw the whole picture that is your life, you would most definitely desire the exact desires of Christ for you. Tim Keller says- ” God only ever gives you what you would have asked for if you knew everything that He knows.” I would rather be living a life of dying to myself with Christ by my side, than living a life of safety and comfort without truly knowing God or living with Him. There is nothing sweeter than walking this road with God. Whether we know Him or not we will come face to face with trials. It’s just a matter of whether or not you want to face that trial in relationship with God or on your own. The closer we come to the heartbeat of God, the more we see our need and the more we desire to be conformed to Christ. It goes back to trusting that God works everything out for your good. (Romans 28) There are also a lot of you want change…. you have come to a place so desperate that you need something to change within you or you are going to find yourself completely lost and broken. PRAY! Talk to the Father as you are His child and pray. As you pray you will change and it will be a beautiful change that will spark a light that may have been burnt out for years. It’s so easy to pray a couple times and then when we don’t see any change we give up. When we don’t see God moving the way WE want Him too we just stop talking to HIm altogether. Friend, it sometimes takes time. But we are called to pray without ceasing and I promise you that you will see God’s hand at work within yourself and within your life. Ignite the flame within yourself. Come alive! You will find life in the words you pray.
The third reason we don’t pray is because if God knows everything, why would it matter? Well leading back to my previous statements… it will change you. It will change your life and it will bring to life things within yourself that may be quite dead. But also… God hears your prayers.
There was this king named Hezekiah. He became very sick to the point of death. Isaiah came to Him with a word from the Lord- 2 Kings 20- “Set your house in order, for you shall die; you shall not recover.” Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord, saying- “Now, O Lord, please remember how I have walked before you in faithfulness and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in your sight.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly. And before Isaiah had gone out of the middle court, the word of the Lord came to him. ” Hezekiah, I have heard your payer; I have seen your tears. Behold, I will heal you. On the third day you shall go up to the house of the Lord, and I will add fifteen years to your life. I will deliver you.”
What?? Did Hesekiah just change the mind of God?! Now there’s so many stories like this in the old testament. Where God had one thing planned, and then through the prayers of His people He changed it. Unbelievable. Now there is a mystery to it all. God is sovereign and knows all things. He knows when you will pray and knows that everything will point to the glory of Himself! But He also hears your prayers girls! And He will act! If you don’t see Him act right away KEEP PRAYING. It may not always turn out the way you would hope… but it will always turn out for your best. Your desires will begin to align with God’s and He loves you and wants good things for you. He always acts, He always listens, and He knows your hearts cry.
In Matthew 7:9-11 it says right after Jesus himself tells us to ask and we will receive…”Which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” Your Father in heaven desires to give you good things when you ask him. Are you asking him? You have power living within you from God himself to move mountains. Talking to Him does make a difference. It does change the world and it most definitely changes you. It changes your dead heart and brings it to life. It’s like taking a breath in and letting it out. Cling to Jesus means to constantly be in commune with Him. Live a life breathing prayer. It doesn’t have to be a time that you just set aside everyday… it is meant to be a way of life! Some of you have read my post, ‘ Mate Mate time’. There is definitely a time to be set aside to dig deeper into the word and quiet time spent with God. But that special time with your candle and your coffee or tea doesn’t just end there. We don’t need to be surrounded by a certain atmosphere to talk to God. Talk to Him with your heart just as you breathe. Every moment you feel a calling to pray, pray. Every moment that you just don’t feel like it, pray. Every moment you doubt, pray. Every moment you find yourself struggling, pray. Live it and your apathetic, dead heart will come to life. And slowly we will begin to see the heart of God more and more.
Find a friend and pray with that friend. Find a quiet room and pray in that room. As you’re walking around school, work, your home… talk to Him from your heart. He’s with you wherever you go and He will never leave you. You are His daughter and He desires for you to know His heart so that you may see that He loves you with a love that is fierce. “His love is not flimsy or self-serving; it’s fierce. This love is the most important thing about you; it changes and will change everything!” -Elyse M Fitzpatrick
Shake off your boredom and apathy. I know that its hard. I definitely have times of prayer where I feel like I’m talking to nobody and only to myself. I leave feeling discouraged because I just didn’t feel anything special or profound. But it’s in those moments that faith steps in. Pray for belief in your unbelief. We have to just trust that God hears us, that He is acting, and He is with us no matter what. God can help you believe.
I want to know Him. I want to see Him work. I don’t want to just sit back in my fear of not feeling anything and lack of understanding. I want to push through the feelings of doubt and insecurity and I want to know my Father, the very life source to this fragile heart of mine. I want to come alive. I want you to come alive. And it all starts with something very simple. Just talk to Jesus. Open your heart to His and you will begin to see change. It may not happen right away, but cling to Him and push through your lack of feelings. Trust that His Word is true and His presence is real. He’s next to you even now as you read this. Come to him just as you are with a messed up heart and weak knees… and allow your heart to break open before Him. Talk to Him to draw nearer to His heart.
Let’s press in.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 – “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit.”
Romans 12:12- “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”