Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Prayer {A Testimony}

Today I want to share a testimony with you, one from my own life. I was very blessed to grow up in a church full of truth and deep Biblical training and teaching. I also grew up with people who have a true intimacy with God and walk daily with Him. But somehow, in spite of being a well-trained, reborn child of God, I missed how to make that consistent connection for myself. Somehow, in spite of all the good teaching and examples, I find myself naturally reverting to a law-based mindset. God will be pleased with me if I'm: doing enough; praying often enough; reading a chapter in my Bible every day; not missing any church; teaching extra Bible studies; being a Prov. 31 wife and mother; have the right attitude; working hard enough; not doing bad things; doing the same things as so-and-so; on and on. I'm sure you know the drill. We often substitute seeking God's face and finding His will for us with the "easy" cop-out -- just do what is expected of you! Or at least, I do. I love God and want to do His will, and it is often very hard for me to separate that from doing the will of His people around me.

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So obviously, one of the parts of the Christian life that has long been a source of confusion to me is prayer. I know that it is a powerful tool for Christians, and that the Bible is full of commands to do it. But with few exceptions, it has always felt somewhat forced to me, like I am just letting God know what I'm thinking (which He already knows) without really knowing what to expect from it. I often end up trying to follow some formula or acronym I've heard and leave the time feeling like I'm missing the whole point. I know that prayer can move mountains if you are praying in God's will -- but that has always been the tricky part! WHAT is God's will??? Does He desire that my sick friend get better? Is it actually in His plan that we go through really hard things for the lessons they will bring us? Does He have a bigger picture in mind here with this situation? How do I pray for something that is dependent on someone else's choices? What am I supposed to pray?!?! I know that God always wants to hear my heart, and I can pour it out to Him (Psalm 62:8), and I should. But I was missing that transforming, intimate interaction most of the time. The part where God talks back and tells me what to think and pray for.

Because of all these things, over the past few years, I have really struggled to grow closer to God. I find myself not even able to discern His voice from all the other expectations crowding in sometimes. Most of the time, to be honest. And because it's such a struggle, I go through spurts of not even trying anymore. Why spend my time on something that only brings frustration? My husband has been my steady rock and example to me through all of my questioning. He has been my greatest discipler, encourager, listener. He never judges me, only seeks to understand and help. And even when he doesn't understand, he respects me and my journey. At the beginning of the year, he encouraged me to be determined to thrive spiritually this year, regardless of anything. Regardless of questions, interferences, weariness, frustrations. I didn't know how it was possible because I felt too stunted, but I wanted it, and I determined to open my heart to it.

Soon after, he introduced me to the idea of praying through scripture. I had heard of this before, but never really understood it. But Zack was really excited about the idea, so he talked about it often. The idea sank into my mind more and more. Then, I had something come up that was really difficult for me, and a wise older woman shared a verse with me to help me. I began to read the whole chapter and then, I began to pray through it. It felt exactly like God was teaching me what to say to Him, like you would tell your small child what to say when they're learning to talk. I knew my prayer had power -- because of course I was praying in God's will -- they were His words! I felt my mind transformed from my own hurt feelings to God's feelings on the matter. I felt love and compassion where I had felt offense and revenge. I knew God was speaking to me and teaching me. And for the first time in a long time, praying wasn't a frustrating experience; it was heart-changing and fulfilling.

Since then, I've been frequently praying through scriptures, primarily the Psalms. I pray for my friends, for my husband, for my children individually and specifically, for myself, for my family, for whatever is on my mind that day. Sometimes I will pray through the same scripture several times for different people. And it's amazing to me how that alone brings the Word of God alive to me! Who knew that a verse could be so different and yet still so true -- all because the prayer is for someone else.

Often times, a prayer convicts me.
Help me to be of one mind with my sister in Christ on this issue. Give us compassion for each other. Help us to love each other as sisters. Give us pity for each other. Help us to treat each other with courtesy and not with resentment. Help me not to respond to evil with more evil. Please stop me from responding to arguing with more arguing, but instead to respond with blessing. Remind me that we are in this together, that we are all benefactors of Your blessings! {1 Peter 3:8-9}
Man, let me tell you. That is NOT my natural response to disagreement! But how transforming to pray that for someone who you are in conflict with.

Often times, a prayer causes me to meditate on the person of God.
God, You are mighty and powerful. You are strong. There isn't anything You can't do. You are God. You are sovereign. You are over everything. I praise You and thank You for being so powerful and mighty. You are also The Lord. You are Jehovah and You reign over everything. You are in control. You are speaking. Help me to have a heart that is listening. Give me a ready ear to hear Your voice. Give me a soft heart to respond to what You say. You are calling to the earth – every person in it from sunrise to sunset. From when we wake to when we fall asleep You are pursuing us. {Psalm 50:1}
Wow! My struggles and fears disappear when I consider God like this!

Often times, a prayer leads me to ask things I never would have thought of for the person I'm praying for.
Show mercy to my daughter, Lord. Help her to know Your mercy and to see it for what it is. Help her to find her worth and strength in You, knowing You love her and accept her. I ask You again to be merciful to her! Please lead her soul to trust in You. Draw her to You and show her Your worthiness. Help her to not fear anything because she trusts in You. Draw her to You and let her spend all her days in the shadow of Your wings. Give her refuge! Help her to always remember that You are her protector and defender. Cause her to run to you in times of fear or doubt. When she is afraid and weak and feels overwhelmed, let her hide under Your wings until the storm has passed. {Psalm 57:1}
So much from one verse! It is truly my heart's desire that Sara knows this as her God!

Often times, a prayer overwhelms me with gratitude and thanksgiving, and shows me deeper meaning than just reading would have given me.
I love you, Lord! You are my strength. It is You who supports me and sustains me. Without You, I would fail. You are my Rock, my stability no matter what comes. You are my Fortress, my place to retreat to in times of fear, my comfort zone! You deliver me; I have nothing to fear because You will save me. You are my God; I humbly recognize You as the One in control. You are my strength. I am weak without you. You are the one I trust in. I can't trust anything else in this world like I can trust You. You will never fail me. You are mighty and powerful and worthy of my trust. You are my buckler, my shield. Not only can I retreat to Your fortress of protection, but You go with me everywhere I go, like a shield on my arm, protecting me always. {Psalm 18:1-2}
Is it any wonder that David so often bursts into sudden prayers of praise and adoration?! I am so grateful that such a strong, mighty God is my protector and defender! I don't need to defend myself, the all-powerful God and Creator of everything is with me every day to do it for me. And if I had just been reading the verse, I would have skimmed right over the "buckler" part and totally missed a blessing.


Whether you are a seasoned prayer warrior, or like me, you struggle to maintain a consistent prayer life, I encourage you to try it! You are reading your Bible, praying, meditating on Scripture, and even memorizing all at one time. There is nothing to do but open your Bible and start praying. No rules, no attitude to "get into," no method to apply. Just you and God in conversation!

Do you have any favorite scriptures you enjoy praying through?


4 comments:

  1. Such a great post! Psalm 119 is a great chapter to pray through. (they all are!) Yes. It's long, so I break it up. Thanks so much for sharing! It's encouraging to know I'm not the only one who struggles with this. We'll work on it together!
    http://dixie-n-dottie.blogspot.com/

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    1. Definitely! I will keep working on it with you! ;-) Thanks for sharing Psalm 119... I haven't gotten that far yet, but I look forward to it!

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  2. Beautiful post! In some parts I thought you were talking about me! Ive struggled, too, and i always felt bad about it because I *do* have a string testimony of God. Why would i not want to have a real conversation with Him?! Praying through a scripture- what a neat idea!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Jillian! I totally understand the struggle, obviously! I will be praying that God will speak to you as you seek Him.

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