I haven’t blogged in three weeks. Seventeen days, to be exact. I haven’t blogged because I haven’t been writing. I haven’t journaled. And if I’m being completely honest, I haven’t really been praying either. Not really. Not the kind of prayers where I’m alone and talking aloud to God because He’s my best friend and I want to tell him what’s up. I’ve been doing a lot more of the “God, let me go down this list and tell you what I need as quickly as I can because I’ve got other things to do.”
As Tim Keller writes in his book, Prayer:
"When life is going smoothly, and our truest heart treasures seem safe, it does not occur to us to pray."
Keller nailed it; that’s me. I think some of us pray more when life is going smoothly because we’re grateful and want to thank God for what He’s given us. But in my typical experience, I pray more when I’m struggling. I selfishly see good times as the result of my own doing. I treat God like a genie who I need to grant me my wishes during hardship.
I can easily forget about spending time with God when I don’t feel a physical need for Him. When I think everything is good, and I have a handle on my life, I place God on the back-burner. I’m not experiencing an immediate need, so I let Him fade away while I focus on my life and the good things in it—entirely forgetting He’s the one who supplied all those good things in the first place. He gives and He can take away. And both are for my good.
My life is going really well right now. It feels stable, healthy, full. My prayer life has fallen flat.
And in these past three weeks, I experienced some movement in my life. Things are changing and evolving. It’s very exciting; it’s also nerve-wracking. I began to feel overwhelmed, fearful, and doubtful. I longed for ultimate security and confidence in my decisions. I wanted God to shine a flashlight down on me, illuminating the right path and darkening everything else.
Friends kept encouraging me to make decisions by following God’s call for my life. To listen to Him and walk in His way. That wise advice only made me more frustrated and stressed out. I wasn’t hearing God speak to me or light my way. So then I became increasingly stressed out and doubtful in God’s goodness.
God, I just want to hear your voice and know exactly what to do. I don’t understand why you aren’t making things abundantly clear to me.
Perhaps because I wasn’t actually spending time in conversation with Him or in His word.
Without solid prayer and time with God, I became more anxious and overwhelmed. I prioritized other things above prayer. If I wasn’t hearing from God with direct and easy answer, then what was the point? But of course I won’t hear from God if I don’t talk to Him on a regular basis. How can He listen and help me when I won’t tell him what’s going on? That’s not much of a relationship.
I’d sit down to read Scripture, but I wasn’t truly focusing. I wasn’t remembering what I read throughout the day. I was reading, checking it off my list, and moving on. I’m going through a “Bible in a Year” plan right now. I’m eight months in at this point. I am learning a lot by immersing myself in so much Scripture. Yet, I’ve begun to approach reading in a very task-orientated way, especially if I’m reading it on my phone. It’s something I do to accomplish, rather than to experience the full weight and depth of the Word. I can put prayer on my daily to-do list, I can listen to sermons, I can jam to worship music, and I can read encouraging blog articles until my heart's content. But those activities are all supplementary.
Without prayer, I got nothing.
Without an active, living relationship with The Lord, these other actions fall flat. The rest of life simply doesn’t make sense.
It took a time of some discomfort and anxiety to remind me of that. I understand that I won’t always hear God speak back to me. I may not receive crystal clear or direction from Him, but I can trust He’s there. That’s what makes prayer a form of faith. We have to believe He is present and working, even when we can’t see or hear Him in the present moment.
"Prayer is both conversation and encounter with God... We must know the awe of praising His glory, the intimacy of finding His grace, and the struggle of asking His help, all of which can lead us to know the spiritual reality of His presence."
(Read Prayer. Seriously.)
Prayer is a blessing. We’re given the gift of prayer to communicate with God whenever we want. The God of the universe wants to talk to us all the time. Knowing that fills my heart with wonder and awe.
I could continue writing about the importance of prayer for another thousand words, but I don’t think you really need to read more from me on it. What you and I both need is to actually do it—to actually pray.
So this morning, I opened up my Bible. I read Galatians, and I thought through what I was reading. Then I got down on my knees and prayed. I told God where I’m at and how I want to hear from Him. I felt Him freeing me through that action. He took on my burdens and carried them so I wouldn’t have to. I’m telling you I felt a sense of lightness throughout this day that I haven’t had in the past 17. Because when I’m scared, worried, anxiety-ridden, or doubtful, God knows exactly what I need. Him.
Talk to Him.
Even if you’ve never before done it, there’s nothing to be afraid of. He won’t judge. In fact, he’s the best listener there is. Talk to Him and put it all out there. Trust me: His power through prayer is beyond your wildest dreams.
If you want to talk more about Jesus Christ and faith and what-the-heck-is-all-this-stuff, shoot me a message. I love meeting new people, whether virtually or in person, and gabbing about life.
And if you'd like to know more of my story, you can read my testimony here.
Truly, He makes beautiful things.