I thought I was bad at praying

I thought I was bad at praying. When Luke and I would take the time to pray together, my mind would go blank. How do I decide on just a few things to pray for? How do I not take it from something seemingly tiny, like my day at work, to something huge, like the salvation of humanity and ultimate world peace?

It wasn’t until our mentors challenged us to pray together every day that I started to learn the truth: it doesn’t matter how we pray or how much we say – what matters is bringing our concerns and requests to the feet of Jesus.

Praying together every day began as a struggle. In the beginning, I didn’t know what to pray. I didn’t feel passionate about anything. I didn’t have a stirring deep in my soul to see something big come to pass. But one of the goals was to pray for each other, so I remembered a few prayers from my high school days and I threw in some scriptures I had recently read. I began to pray over my husband that the Lord would increase his territory, that his steps would be made firm and that the work of his hands would be blessed – both at work and at home. I prayed that he would be looked on in favor by both his bosses and his colleagues. And that was about it. Then Luke would pray and we’d be on our way and off to work.

I prayed that same prayer for a while. It felt right, and based on what I’ve read in the Bible, I knew I was praying things that would be pleasing to God.

Then Luke got a promotion at work. And a raise. And things started to happen. God was indeed blessing the work of his hands throughout the day. Even at home, things were falling into place for him. He would work on something and it would take half the time it normally did. He was able to find answers quickly when he was having trouble. And his joy and satisfaction were rising. It was beautiful!

This has started teaching me an important lesson: God is listening to me. It doesn’t matter that I haven’t felt the power of the Holy Spirit rising up in me each morning – it matters that I’m saying the words and asking. It matters that I am acknowledging the Lord and surrendering my cares to him.

Matthew 6:7-8 says,

“When you pray, don’t babble on and on as the Gentiles do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him!

I am finding freedom in this passage. Freedom and humility. Matthew 6:30 goes on to say,

And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

This is all transforming the way I think about prayer. The other morning I felt the desire to pray, but again felt the weight of it. Where do I even begin? Thinking about how I prayed over Luke, how short and to the point those prayers have been, and yet how God not only heard me, but moved, I allowed it to be simple. I wrote the following in my journal –

Lord, my prayers today are that I would find freedom from stress and perfectionism. That I could surrender all knowledge and control to you. That I would stop trying to figure out the meaning of life, and would instead trust you. That I would see miracles happen in the people around me. That our community and influence would explode. That we would be generous at all times and we would overflow with thankfulness.

I poured out my heart to the Lord, and left it at his feet. And that is the point I want to drive home: You have no power in prayer…God does. The power is in our surrender. The power is knowing that it is God who holds the world. It is God who knows every single hair on our heads. He knows when we rise in the morning and go to bed at night. He knows the people in our circles. He knows our innermost being, down to our deepest desires, down to our tiniest cells.

I was bad at praying because I thought the answers to my prayers rested on my shoulders. I need to keep reminding myself that prayer is my opportunity to place my desires at Jesus’ feet, and to ask him for help.

Prayer can still be hard sometimes. But I am thankful that all I need to do is ask for his help and trust in faith that he’s listening.

Read Until You Strike Fire

My husband recently gave me some really solid advice. I was telling him how there are times when, as I start to think about praying, a stress rises up in me that I can’t explain. There are times that I leave my mornings with the Lord more on edge and tense than when I had started. The feeling is so frustrating.

What he advised me to do was to pray the Lord’s Prayer until I strike fire.

Have you ever heard of the phrase, read until you strike fire? It refers to reading the bible until something jumps out at you. Or another way to put it is to read until something strikes a chord or resonates with you. When you hit fire, stop. Think about it and why it stuck out to you. Ask the Lord what he’s telling you. Maybe you spend a half hour in prayer. Maybe you journal about it.

Luke advised me to do this with the Lord’s prayer. His theory is that you can’t go through it without striking fire somewhere.

I think he’s absolutely right.

IMG_4888.PNG

I needed the Lord, but I was feeling blocked in terms of prayer. So I took his advice, and I humbled myself before the Lord and acknowledged that I am weak in prayer and that I need his Spirit to guide me. I then began praying through the Lord’s Prayer, as found in Matthew 6:9-13.

Our Father in heaven,
    may your name be kept holy.

“May your name be kept holy.” I stopped there and began reminding myself of who God is.

I then worked my way back a sentence to “Our Father in heaven” and reminded myself where God resides. How he is far above the earth and all it’s powers. How infinitely wise he is. How everything is under his watchful eye. How nothing escapes his notice.

“Our Father.” I am stuck even now on this one. I cannot comprehend this love, but I feel an invitation to dwell on this. He is my Father. Fathers love their children fiercely. Fathers keep an eye on all their children do. Fathers provide, protect, and guide. They are compassionate and understanding. Full of love. If I love my dogs, who aren’t my children and aren’t even human, so much that I am undone when one of them is hurt or sad, how much more does my Father care for me?

Look no further when you are in need. Pick up your bible and read until you strike fire.

Our Father in heaven,
    may your name be kept holy.
May your Kingdom come soon.
May your will be done on earth,
    as it is in heaven.
Give us today the food we need,
and forgive us our sins,
    as we have forgiven those who sin against us.
And don’t let us yield to temptation,
    but rescue us from the evil one.

 

 

8/7/18 | Daily Bread

“Give us this day our daily bread.”
Matthew 6:11 NLT

It was our first few months in Colorado, and although it was difficult for me, it was a world of pain for my husband, Luke. He had a boss that tore him to pieces daily.

It was so hard to watch. So hard to control my anger.

On top of it, we had two vehicles with phantom issues. We had no one to help us and no money for a mechanic, so it was on Luke’s shoulders to fix them.

I had my own stresses to contend with as well. We went through so much change in such a short amount of time.

This was the first time in my life I started getting up with the sun to desperately seek God. We had a spare bedroom in our apartment, and it became a safe place for me. One of the first verses that jumped out to me during that time was give us this day our daily bread. I badly needed Jesus to know what was going on and that I was relying on him. It was he alone that could give me enough to get me through each day.

What that new routine did was something really cool – it opened my eyes to see how he was working. As he worked and provided all that I needed each day, I increasingly gained confidence in him and his ability to provide. I began to trust him.

Just think about this: This is one of the lines that Jesus himself instructs us to pray – give us this day our daily bread. Think on that this week, and take it into consideration in all that comes up.