I’ve spent enough time in various church environments to become confused about the topic of prayer. Before getting involved in churches prayer seemed to flow so much nicer. I’m pretty sure it’s the legalism that tainted my idea of talking to God. Throw in some threats, fear, and paranoia and you’ve got quite a mess. I’ve spent far too much time being afraid to pray, doubting my requests would be answered, thinking I needed to perform some church works and a plethora of other things in order to be heard by God. Days and days of feeling like no one could hear my painful cries. This prayer thing came with no tangible guarantee.
It’s all by faith, right? Sending out a request with no evidence that it will be heard, much less answered. Then I’m told that God sometimes just says, “No”. How discouraging.
Is prayer like making a wish? Can I blow the dandelion in any direction and hope the seeds fall right where they should be?
I’ve heard tons of teaching about prayer, read lots of books, and studied prayers in the Bible and still felt at a loss about what prayer really is.
“Make your requests known unto God”
Ok, then what?
So I’ve been deeply pondering this idea of prayer so much more lately. Some preachers will teach that we can call something out and it will happen…but if it doesn’t happen it means you lack faith, aren’t close enough to God, or have some sin in your life that hinders you from getting what you need.
This bothers me, because I don’t think God works like Cinderella’s fairy god mother who manifests our dreamy wishes with a few magic words.
So I was thinking about the concept of ‘sowing and reaping’ and wondering how that plays out in the words we choose in prayer. When I’ve been wronged by someone my flesh’s response is for vengeance, but I know vengeance belongs to the Lord. If I pray for someone to ‘really learn their lesson’ then will I learn a lesson just as harshly later? If I pray for God’s grace on them, will I still have to suffer at their hands? How does God work out justice and grace for the bully and the victim? I want to take prayer seriously and carefully.
My gut wants to scream out a prayer to God, “Make them stop!” and yet sometimes years go by and people just don’t stop. I’ve known women who have been brutally abused for years as children…who would cry out for God to deliver them and didn’t get free from the abuse until they were old enough and strong enough to run away. Where was God for them? Why weren’t their prayers answered? Why do children starve in other countries? Why can’t prayer stop a tsunami from destroying their crops?
I’m tired of being at the bottom of the barrel in life, suffering.
…and yet I cry out more to God, wondering where he is. I know, I know…I read in the Bible how he was faithful to people and sometimes it took a long time to answer them. Like how the Hebrew children had to wait 400 years for deliverance. I think about those generations of people who didn’t live long enough to see Moses come to their rescue. They never got their prayers answered.
- I’m not satisfied to be in that kind of position my whole life.
- I don’t think God intended that we have to be.
Sometimes I wonder if, while making my prayers known to God, that he might be saying,
“Then do something about it, Lisa.”
He lives within us and has given us his victory and power, but do we really tap into that source and what does it really look like when we do?
Thinking in these terms made me go back to the concept of sowing and reaping. If I have God’s power within me, to do whatever I want with it…how will I use that power?
Much like Bruce Almighty had to face. What if?
So with this in mind I pondered much deeper.
I don’t want to live in fear of praying, yet I want to be cautious of what I pray for. Our spoken words have power to bring life or death to any given situation. So it’s within this deep pondering of God’s power in my life that I began to see that prayer is about me. It’s about how I respond and what my responses will bring about. It’s just like that Sunday School song teaches us,
“It’s me, it’s me, it’s me O Lord,
Standing in the need of prayer”
I found that when I make prayer a serious matter about my heart condition, then God will reveal to me how *I* should view things and through that I gain wisdom for how I respond. Then my response will either bring life or death to a situation. And even if I still speak a wrong word in prayer, His grace covers it all.
This doesn’t mean we need to be doormats for abusers. I firmly believe God’s power is with us to stand up and fight when needed, but I don’t think the fight will look the same for everyone.
Sometimes a fight might be a private spoken word from God’s inward power and wisdom from my soul to speak words of life over an enemy.
“Lord, I pray this person will see themselves in a ‘mirror’ so they will be made aware of how their words and actions hurt others and that the person will be made aware of your deep love for his/her soul. Not so he/she will feel condemned, but rather changed. I pray for transformation in the life of this person and for he/she to experience the power of your grace.”
Because when they are made intently aware of God’s grace, then grace will naturally manifest in their lives and halt their abusive ways.
In this way, my prayer is one that exhibits God’s will and regardless of whether or not I see it manifest, I know that in this process my own heart has grown more gracious and forgiving. This is how I find peace with who I am. I am reminded that I was created in the image of God. In this I can be at peace, because God is peace.
So in prayer I find this spiritual growth in God’s kingdom within, but we still live in this physical kingdom ruled by humans and the power of the flesh. Not all humans will surrender to the Lord nor choose to live in the spiritual kingdom that’s within them. But I have to face those days by faith that everything will work out as it should be and continue to grow in the spirit. I do believe that the power we send out will come back to us again, it just may not be in a form that we expected. God has his own ways of surprising us along this path.
I think that once we have come to this understanding of who we are, then we are able to have clarity in how we decide to handle situations in this earthly kingdom. Inward growth and wisdom will manifest in outward growth and wisdom. And since the fruit of inward growth and wisdom is good fruit, I have to believe the outward growth and wisdom will produce good fruit too. There’s so much more I’d like to say about prayer, but this post is getting a bit long as it is. I hope you’ll subscribe and join me on this journey. I could really use your support.
Have you ever wrestled deeply with the topic of prayer? What has your journey been like?
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