Last week, we started talking about the topic of prayer, and today we’ll finish the two part series on Talking With God! If you missed Part 1, you can check it out here.
But here’s a quick recap: In my previous post, I mentioned a quote that really impacted me from Corrie Ten Boom. It says:
“Don’t pray when you feel like it. Have an appointment with the Lord and keep it. A man is powerful on his knees.”
This quote zeroes in on three problems with my prayer life.
- I only pray when I feel like it.
- I don’t have a set time to pray.
- I rarely recognize the power of prayer.
And as much as I wanted to ignore these (obvious) problems, I simply couldn’t. God showed me what I needed to work on, and for the past couple weeks, He’s been helping me whip my prayer life into shape (it really needed it).
It’s been amazing and challenging and oh, so worth it, and I hope you can benefit from what God’s taught me, just as much as I have.
Problem #1: I only pray when I feel like it.
The first night I decided to make prayer a more important part of my life, I got down on my knees (I’ll tell you why later), and told myself that I had no choice but to stay there and pray for five minutes. I expected it to be pretty close to torture.
And at first…IT WAS SO HARD.
My mind was going on all sorts of spastic bunny trails where I’d start praying about something and then start thinking about how comfortable my pajamas were. It was really annoying.
So I prayed that I could have some focus, and God stepped in. When I looked up, I had prayed for 15 minutes, and I could not believe it.
I felt amazing, refreshed, rejuvenated, and so full of joy. I had literally prepared myself for the worst, thinking the 5 minutes would tick by unbearably slow. And I couldn’t have been more wrong.
I hadn’t felt like praying at first (and I had no idea how I’d pray for that long…), but again, God doesn’t wait for us to feel like praying.
Romans 8:26 reminds us, “the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.”
Sometimes, we don’t have to say anything. God just wants us to sit in His presence and let Him do His work. We may not audibly hear Him speak, but sometimes He’s just asking us to trust that He’s working on our hearts. Sometimes we need to get away from the craziness and overstimulation of our world and drown in His peace.
But others times, the Holy Spirit will intercede by laying certain people on our hearts. And that first night, as I worried that I didn’t have enough to pray for, God did just that.
I went from, “How will I manage to pray for this long??” to “How will I have time to pray for all of this??”
Seriously, there are so many people in this world, and every single one of them needs prayer. So if you’re like me, and you were worried about what there was to pray about (other than the big, obvious stuff), just start praying about anyone and everyone. That girl that looks so sad in the hallways. That person you only sort of know from church but you tend to run into wherever you go. That person that drives you crazy…yep, definitely pray for them. That’s always humbling:)
Just start praying, start talking to God.
And keep going on those days when God seems far away and it would feel better to just go to bed. Keep praying, I’ll be doing it too.
Problem #2: I don’t keep a set time to pray.
I tried to set a time once (like I’m going to pray every day at 9)—and it literally only happened once. But this time, I want to make it actually happen.
Doing the whole “9 o’clock is my prayer time” will not work for me. I can guarantee you. Some days, I’m just finishing dance at 9, sometimes I’m eating dinner, sometimes I’m free. It changes so much and it’ll get frustrating to randomly be busy during the one time I set to pray, and soon enough I’ll let it slip away.
So instead, I’ve set the minutes when I first wake up and the minutes just before I go to bed to be my time to pray. Those minutes will always exist, and it doesn’t matter whether I wake up at 6AM or 9:42. Either way, I’ll wake up and pray.
I’m going to start with 10 minutes (broken up between morning and night) and see where it goes from there.
Now, I mentioned earlier that I got on my knees to pray. This is not some rule that needs to be followed and it doesn’t make your prayers reach heaven any faster:)
But for me personally, I simply cannot focus when laying in bed. I WILL FALL ASLEEP. And I know this for a fact because I lie to myself way too often saying, I’m just going to pull the covers up, lay back a little farther, okay. Dear Jesus thank yo… And I’m out.
Sitting on my knees is way less comfortable, and I know it’s going to be super cold in the winters (I’m in the basement), but I think it’ll remind me that I’m there to pray, not daydream or think about what I have to do tomorrow. Hopefully it makes it harder to fall asleep too!
Problem #3: I rarely recognize the power of prayer.
Sometimes I’ll be going through some situation that’s really stressing me out. It really bothers me, but when my stress reaches a certain point, there is no locking the floodgates. I will cry no matter how hard I try to stop.
But sometimes I’m in this type of situation, I reach my breaking point, and someone will ask, “Have you prayed about it yet?”
Hmm. Should’ve tried that first, huh?
All too often, I forget that prayer isn’t just for fun. It’s meant to be my lifeline; my first—not last—resort.
In Mark 9:29, Jesus explains to His disciples why they weren’t able to drive out an impure spirit from a little boy. His simple answer?
“This kind [of spirit] can come out only by prayer.”
I think Jesus was trying to tell them, “Come on guys, there’s only so much you can do on your own. In fact, it’s never been about what you’re capable of. Prayer is powerful. Pray first, act second.”
Us humans try so hard to accomplish things from our own abilities. We’re proud. We try to impress people and we like independence. But we’re still humans, and we still need Jesus.
And though there’s only so much we can do, prayer can move mountains.
Let’s not forget the power behind every word sent up to our Creator.
I get that sometimes it’s hard to talk to someone you’ve never physically seen. And some days it’s harder than others. But the more you read His Word, the more you pray, the more you pay attention to His fingerprints throughout your life, the closer He seems and the easier it is to talk to Him.
The truth is, He loves you so terribly much, and He loves when you schedule some daily “God and I” time. It’s when our mind is focused solely on Him, when our attention isn’t split between Him and the world, that He is able to work through us most.
I’ve read before that we should treat our time with God the same as we treat our time with friends. With friends, we set aside a slot in our schedule, we make sure to show up on time, and when we’re there, we’re all there. We talk, but we also listen. We don’t check our phones, showing that we’re more interested in someone other than the person across the table.
And you know what, just like I love those one-on-one conversations with friends, I want to look forward to my time talking with Jesus. And that’s really all it is—a conversation with a close friend. (A potentially life-changing conversation with a really, really amazing friend, but you know, close enough:)
I hope I can learn to see prayer, these daily talks with my Savior, as a privilege, and not as a chore.
Some day, I hope that getting on my knees to start and end my day is only the most natural thing to do—that my life is not only marked, but lathered in prayer.
And I hope that for you, too.