Here’s the truth: my prayers are, at best, a hot mess and my prayer life leaves much to be desired. Yes, I speak to God on the behalf of others often but overall, I think I’m horrible at praying. I feel like my prayers are stoic and choppy, a failed attempt to string together words eloquent enough to offer to my Elohim. I do thank God for growth because there was a time in my life when I would never even think about praying in public. Now I simply say a silent prayer, asking God to speak through me, before praying in public. I know He hears me because [I think] those public prayers sound less dreadful than the ones in my head. I hope. But on Saturday morning something happened to me that I have never experienced before- God woke me up just for prayer. At least, I should say that while He has tugged for a random prayer, this was the first time that I did so with joy and gladness. He was calling for me to spend immediate time with Him, bringing my heart to Him. And I humbly obliged.
I think this is where I should add that I struggle with formal prayers. I tend to write all of my prayers and words to God in my journal. Every night I take time to tell Him what’s on my mind through writing. I don’t know why, but it is easier for me to express my thoughts through written words, than it is spoken words. Yes, there are nights that I come home so tired that my prayer entry is only a few sentences, but that counts as prayer, right? Nah, boo; it does not. Clearly, I am no position to tell you what prayer should be, but I can tell you what it is not. It is not a quick fix to the ails of our lives. Simply uttering a prayer will not eliminate whatever we face. That is something that prayer and faith join together with God to do. Prayer is a conversation with our Lord God. A special conversation where we render Adoration to our God; Confess our sins; offer Thanksgiving for His provisions, grace, and mercy; and then present Supplications (requests) to Him. That’s known as the ACTS prayer. That’s what prayer is. Prayer is an ACTS conversation.
Saturday morning was the breakfast for our church’s Women’s Ministry. I had planned to wake up at 6am and progress through my list of tasks before heading off to Golden Corral for breakfast… but God had other plans. Instead He work me up at 5:39am and placed one desire in my heart (ok, two, with the first being the urge to release my body’s liquids)– the desire to pray. When I came back to my bed’s side, I fell on my knees, sang a bit of “You know my name” by Tasha Cobbs Leonard, and then went straight into prayer. I had to talk to God; I had to let the words on my heart become the sweet words in God’s ears. I needed Him to know how I felt about Him. I needed to continue with the one supplication that my precious niece had made the night before when she prayed for this world.
My sweet niece, only eight years old but filled with the full Wisdom of God. That’s her; that’s my littler Sophia. Her name is Greek for Wisdom and she is definitely walking with it. She is smarter than I will ever be and wiser than I could ever aspire to be. She is her name and her name is her. So when she requested prayers for the world, my best friend and I just chuckled at her generality, but by the next morning, I understood it all.
Friday, May 31, 2019.
I had just gotten home from lunner (you know, lunch and dinner) with my colleague-friend and I was fully engaged in a vent session with my best friend. I was venting about how draining it was to suffer from my many food restrictions. I was telling her that I was tired of having to carry my own food into restaurants. I was complaining. Or venting. Depending on who’s asking. For this particular lunner date, I had gotten off of work at 3pm, driven across town IN TRAFFIC to visit Wegmans’ hot bar for food, and then driven back across town to eat with my friend. I was tired and irritated. Why did my life have to be this way? Why couldn’t things be easier? So I vented. I stayed on the phone with her for over an hour and laid out my heart to her.
At about 630pm, I saw a FB post saying that there was a mass shooting at a VA Beach Courthouse. Knowing that a sister-in-the-ministry and her family were in VA Beach, I reached out to her to see if she was safe. She reassured me that she was and I sent her my love. About 90 minutes later, Sophia called for evening prayer. She had no clue what was going on in the world. She didn’t know that a man was a few hundred miles away, violently taking the lives of his former coworkers. She didn’t know that that same sister would later text me and the other preachers from our church, stating that her cousin was one of the 12 people who had been killed in the shooting. Sophia is wise, but she did not know that. At that time, all she knew was that she wanted to pray for the world.
That’s why I just love her.
The bestie and I chatted for a bit more and then went our separate ways. I showered and then hopped in my bed, writing in the infamous journal. Everything felt normal and I was ready for whatever Saturday would bring me. Yes, I had researched what I would eat from Golden Corral and I was ready for my unlimited fruit and salad. Wake mother dearest up for work at 10pm… ok, now I’m ready for bed. But I tossed and turned all night. I don’t know why but sleeping has been difficult for me for the past week or two. I would feel sleepy and close my eyes for rest, but my whole sleep was plagued with dreams that my mind fought hard to understand. When I would rise the next morning, I was rested but my mind was racing. I subconsciously thought of all of that as I tossed and turned that night.
And then Saturday morning came.
I got up 21 minutes before my alarm clock and I felt so well rested. I looked at the time and knew that prayer was in order. After my quick trip to the bathroom, I fell on my knees beside my bed and prayed to my Father. It was formal. It did contain the model prayer as listed in Matthew 6. It was exactly what my heart needed at that moment and I was so glad that God had tugged at my heart strings.
Yet what I didn’t expect was that the prayer would lead me to desire more. I had a desire to learn more about who God is… and His many names. Through His divine guidance, I have begun a journey to learn about all of the names of God and the purpose of each one. I do not know how long this journey will last, but for right now I am enjoying the ride.
Beloved, we are only three days into this new month and I want to challenge you to really get to know God. There is beauty and a blessing in knowing Him for yourself and not relying on the faith of others. I realized that that’s what I did for so many years. I relied on the faith of those around me, praying that their prayers would save me from myself. Hard truth is, their prayers only paved the way for me to learn how to pray for myself.
As I said earlier, prayer will not magically make life better. We are not Aladdin and God is not a genie, magically granting the wishes that we make. Prayer is, as defined by Paul in Ephesians 6:10-20, something that we are commissioned to do for God’s people. Prayer by itself is just a string of words (in pure simplicity). But when we join it with unmovable and unshakable faith, prayer becomes a powerful weapon that we can use to defeat the schemes of the enemy. I wish I could tell you that if you pray right now, your life will be instantly changed. I wish I could, but I can’t. What I can tell you is that if you pray right now, knowing that God is able to handle whatever you bring to Him, make the firm decision to leave the concern with Him, and then trust Him, He will answer.
But pause right there.
I also need you to know that God answers prayers with YES, NO, and Not Yet. His timing is not our time but He will answer. Trust that what He bring Him, He is already working on… after all, He knows our needs before we even ask. God desires so much greater for us than we could ever imagine. We must trust that His answers are for our forever good. Pray, yes. Trust, believe, and have faith, also. It is God’s will that we would continuously pray to Him (read this scripture). Hard times will come and good times, too, yet through it all, God tells us to call out to Him in prayer. He desires to hear from us- formally or nah- He just wants our time.
(At some later time I will explain that “praying without ceasing” does not necessarily mean that we are at the altar on our knees 24/7, but that it means we are constantly in conversation with the Lord. But, that’s for another day.)
Now I challenge you to learn how to pray. Learn how to go to God on your own behalf. Learn how to call out to Him with a loud and thunderous voice, acknowledging His sovereignty and limitless ability. Learn what He did for others and what He promises to do for you. Learn about Him…
… in prayer.