I have been talking recently about spiritual growth. It is my belief that the best way to grow spiritually is to spend time with God by reading your Bible and by praying. My focus lately has been on reading the Bible. But, I wanted to switch gears a bit and talk to you today about prayer.
I don’t know about you, but I find that prayer can seem intimidating. Growing up in a Baptist church and hearing strong men pray always left me with the impression that my prayers should be like theirs. It was almost as if there a certain way that you should pray—a right way, which means that there is also a wrong way. Those men I listened to praying as a child always sounded so well-thought out and purposeful. Even the ladies in my Bible book club who lead prayers are always so, well, perfect. And, my prayers don’t feel anywhere close to that.
It may seem like our prayer life is a looming task to complete each day with set of rules that must be followed. (Must we be down on our knees to pray? Must our hands be folded? Must our prayers be eloquent and lofty? Should we only pray at certain times or at a certain place? How do we make sure God hears us?) Once you become a Child of God, praying should be a joy-filled exercise that becomes as second nature as breathing.
Praying may seem like a hard thing, but I must tell you--there is no such thing as a wrong way to pray. The Bible tells us that our prayers will be met with God’s delight. (See Proverbs 15:8 and Psalm 149:4) So, I think God is just happy to hear from us. And, while Jesus does provide us with guidance on how to pray via The Lord’s Prayer, we also learn from the Bible that the Holy Spirit will help us pray when we don’t know how to.
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will. (Romans 8:26-27)
Honestly, I think any communication we have with the Lord is a good thing. Do you have an inner dialogue or monologue with yourself? I do! And, I am willing to bet that you do too. I mean, don’t we all talk to ourselves? I have always done this. And, I have realized that rather than just talking to myself, I can talk to God! You can too. I often think of Paul’s command in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to pray without ceasing. This seems like an impossible task. But, if you start directing your self-talk to God, you can come a lot closer to praying, or at the very least, communicating without ceasing. And, I believe that this is and can be a form of prayer.
We are self-centered creatures and often go to God in prayer for something we need or want. We put ourselves first. We put our needs first. We put our problems first. Thus, we focus on the wrong things.
If we truly love and trust in Christ, we should put Him first. Then, we can come to God in prayer and be confident in His peace and sovereignty. We need to honor God with our prayers and communication. We need to put God first in our prayers, just as we need to put Him first in our lives. When we put God first in our prayers and in our lives, it puts everything in the right perspective. So, before you go to God asking for His help with things in your life, take a few moments to thank Him first. God first always.
So, no matter how you do it, I want to encourage to pray as often as you can. Just remember to put God first. As I have been typing up this post, I have been thinking of a hymn that goes along with this subject perfectly, “Have a Little Talk with Jesus” by Cleavant Derricks. I want to leave you a link so you can listen to it. And, below is the refrain that fits so well with this topic of prayer. Please, go ahead and have a little talk with Jesus
(Now let us) have a little talk with Jesus
(Let us) tell Him all about our troubles
(He will) hear our fainted cry
(He will) answer by and by
(When you) feel a little prayer wheel turning
(And you) know a little fire is burnin’
(You will) find a little talk with Jesus makes it right
In keeping with last week’s blog post, I want to share a sweet story I heard yesterday. I listen to the Joy FM (93.3 in Atlanta) ninety-nine percent of the time when I am in my car. On Thursday afternoons Jayar or Benji, from The Jayar Show, interviews Joy FM artists. Yesterday Benji interviewed Tori Harper. She is an up-and-coming young artist who has a song called “Joy” that is being played on contemporary Christian radio stations. (It’s a great little song. There is something different about it. It is both uplifting and cheery, yet there is a calmness to it. Maybe it is Tori's voice or her cadence, I am not sure. But, I really like it. Check it out!)
Benji asked Tori the story behind the song. Tori, who is only 19, said that she, even as young as she is, has been through some darker times. At one point, not too long ago she went through a period where she had felt abandoned by her friends. She said that she felt like her friends had just left her out to dry. It was very upsetting to her.
She said she went home, to her room and laid on the floor and started crying. She said that she cried out to God and asked Him, “Do you see me, God?” She felt as if she were completely alone.
Tori then said she went to church. And, if I understood her correctly, she had decided that after that church service, she was going to take a break and not go back for a while. She was really down. But, then, a miraculous thing happened. Tori said that during the service, the lady sitting next to her reached over to her and told her something that forever changed her. That lady said, “God wants you to know that He sees you.”
Isn’t that amazing? That is how God works though! He not only let Tori know that He loves and cares about her, but He did so by using the exact words she used to question Him. I just thought that this was another great reminder that God most certainly loves and cares about us. You can listen to the entire interview on the Joy FM website.
I have had a lot of things on my heart lately that I have been praying about. I am sure you have to. Once you become a Christian, I think, or at least hope, that praying becomes an important part of your life. And, because I know that life is full of ups and downs, I also know that you probably have plenty of people or items on your prayer list. I know I certainly have a lot on mine!
I have often heard through my spiritual journey that God does things on His timetable, not ours. This means that just because you want something right now, doesn’t mean that God will give it to you right now. His timing is perfect and we have to trust Him to do the right thing at the right time in our lives.
But, as the old saying goes, that is easier said than done. I don’t know about you, but I do not have any patience. I joke that I was absent on the day that God handed that out. So, as you already know if you follow this blog, I am a work in progress. And, patience is something that God is working on in me. I love that I can look to the Bible and find what I need in there. My favorite verses about patience are James 1:3-4 which say, “because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
There are a lot of different seasons that we go through in this life. Some seasons are shorter than others. But, if you are in a season of waiting on your prayer(s) to be answered, like me, I want to share something with you: God is listening! God hears your prayers. God knows your heart. Take a deep breath, be still and KNOW.
How do I know God is listening? Well, I know from personal experience. Within the last week alone, I received a sign from God that He is listening to my prayers. God has sent me information in the form of two different books that are giving me insight into something that I am dealing with. Honestly, the fact that both books are not only giving me something I need, but the fact that they back each other up, is blowing my mind right now. As I was reading the second book, I could just feel that God was whispering in my ear, “I hear your prayers, Erica. I hear you. I am working everything out. Don’t worry.” I keep coming back to Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
God is working everything out for me. For me!
And, He is doing the same thing for you! I know it may not seem like it. I know that it is very likely that you have been praying over something for years and you have seen no evidence that He hears you. I know that it is easy to start sinking and feel yourself slipping into despair. I know. I know.
Before I end, I would like to encourage you today. Take a few minutes and go outside. Look around. Do you see some grass or trees or flowers? How about a blue sky overhead? Maybe it’s cloudy or rainy. But, those clouds and rain give life. These are all gifts from our loving Father. Remember, Luke 12:6-7 tells us, “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.”
Dear friend, please take heart. God does hear you. He hears your cries and your prayers. You are important to Him. He has not forgotten about you.
I am so glad you are here! I am Erica Strickland, a girl who loves God. My goal here is to simply share His love and light.