Prayer Changes Me

“Our dear gracious heavenly Father, we thank you again dear Lord for this day. We thank you dear heavenly Father for…”

If I close my eyes and get really quiet I can still hear Grandpa Cole praying over a family meal or an offering at church. There was almost comfort in knowing that every time my grandpa was asked to pray, the same words would come out of his mouth. I would even mouth those words along with him sometimes. It came from years of praying and settling into a comfortable habit with God.

This past year, I had to learn to pray again. Over the last 16 years I continued to pray occasionally but my heart wasn’t in them. The few times I did honestly hope for a response I didn’t feel like I had the right words to say and I just prayed the same words I had always prayed.

I don’t remember how old I was when I was taught to pray, but I do vaguely remember a Sunday school lesson on how to pray. It was broken down into sections and explained that these are the things you have to say each time you pray. It was like I was being given a form letter or maybe a mad-lib to complete in order to talk to God.

(Insert Greeting Here)

Confess sins and be specific.

Submit prayer requests.

Say you love Him.

Claim it in Jesus name.

Amen.

That is it and that is all. The perfect equation that will send your message straight to a heavenly Father who will answer those needs and prayers. I also, somewhere along the way, started to believe that asking God for something meant that He should give you exactly what you ask for. If I asked God for a puppy, I expected to eventually get a puppy. We’ll talk about that more a little later.

As I began my journey back to God this year, I knew I needed to change the way I prayed. I recited those memorized form letter prayers so often that they just seemed fake and I didn’t feel like I was actually talking to Him. I had to learn that there are other ways to talk with the Lord. Possibly even better ways to pray. The good little traditional girl in me didn’t like that idea very much. She wanted to stick to the way she was taught and follow the traditions people like my grandpa left behind. It took some work.

I think it was the combination of an episode or two of Touched by an Angel (I know!) and a sermon at church that taught me a new way to pray. It should be more like an open and continuous conversation. After all, we are called to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Why do we have to limit it to certain times of the day? Why do we have to cut the conversation off by saying amen?

Think of it as a text message conversation with your best friend. You never sign off or say goodbye in that conversation. It’s just a continuous stream of thoughts, ideas, and plans. Why can’t we talk to God that way too? When you see something worthy of praise, stop right then and send up a thank you. When you are struggling with a temptation, shoot up a quick, “Lord, help me.” When you know someone needs prayers, don’t wait until your allotted prayer time to ask God to move in their life. When you need to talk to God you can always hit the send button whenever and wherever you are.

Another thing I learned about prayer this year is that you don’t necessarily have to be in the right frame of mind to pray. When you are angry, talk to God. When you are hurting, talk to God. When you aren’t even sure He is listening, talk to Him. It’s alright to be honest because He already knows the truth. I tell Him when I don’t feel like praying, because He already knows what is in my heart. I tell Him when I am having a bad day and when I am struggling with my faith in Him. I am honest about wanting to blame Him for things. If He loves me for who I am and wants to hear from me, why should I change everything about myself and fake a pleasant attitude when I talk to Him?

It’s when I hold things back that they grow into more than they should. It’s the same as when you hold something back from a friend or loved one. When you aren’t completely honest with someone it begins to eat away at your relationship until you eventually have to let it out or you cause irreparable damage. I spent years not talking to God. I was mad at Him and therefore had nothing to say to Him. That only caused me to not seek Him even further.

It’s also alright to question Him. I had a friend go through a very difficult situation this year. She is a christian who makes an effort to give God the glory in things and was a huge factor in getting me back into church. I could not understand why God would put her through such a terrible thing. I could have used that as a reason to give up my journey back to faith and slipped back into my comfortable anger at God, but instead I was honest in my prayers to Him. I asked Him why she had to go through what she was going through. I told Him I didn’t understand what purpose that could possibly have served. Then I waited for an answer.

It’s funny how God can answer prays in simple, yet profound ways. My answer came from the friend who was going through the trial. She told me all about how she prayed and gave the situation over to God. She reminded me that even in the eye of the storm, God remains in control. Her ability to praise Him in the storm blew me away. She found comfort in the very person that I wanted to blame. Her continued faith in God was my answered prayer.

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One of the hardest things I learned about prayer this year is that sometimes God says no. I never really thought about that before. There aren’t unanswered prayers, but there are times when the answers aren’t the ones we want. Sometimes He says no. Sometimes He says wait. Then there is the fact that sometimes God answers our prayers by giving us what we need instead of what we asked for or wanted.

My mustard seed busting moment was when I prayed for God to let my dad be okay. All this time I thought God didn’t answer that prayer. I always thought God heard our pleas to save Dad and heal him, but just didn’t answer. I never understood that He did, in fact, answer those prayers. His answer was no. No, I can’t heal him because that is not in My plan. I still don’t completely understand how Dad dying fits into God’s plan, but I know it has shaped me into the person that I am today. I wouldn’t be sitting here right now writing this very blog post if my Dad hadn’t died when I was 12 years old. There is a plan and God answers prayers in accordance with that plan.

When my sister and I were little we used to sing the song below at church. Back then I didn’t really understand it. I just thought it was a fun song to sing and people seemed to enjoy it. It means so much more to me now.

Prayer Changes Me by the McKameys

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B1x96B0NWQ8

Lying awake at night
Thinking of things beyond my control.
Ready to give up the fight
Weary and tired of carrying the load.
I know there’s nothing more I can do or say
Then God says, “Just give it to me.”
Then I whisper a prayer that only He hears
And I rest peacefully.

I can pray out loud or silently.
I can pray standing tall or on my knees.
It really makes no difference
Just that prayer is the key.
‘Cause prayer changes things
And it changes me.

Troublesome days seems so long
I can’t help but wonder when they will end.
I know I’m supposed to be strong
But sometimes I don’t think I’ll ever win.
That’s when he tells me, “You walk without me”
But in my strength alone.
And when I began to trust more in Him,
I can sing a song.
 
I can pray out loud or silently.
I can pray standing tall or on my knees.
It really makes no difference
Just that prayer is the key.
‘Cause prayer changes things
And it changes me.

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3 thoughts on “Prayer Changes Me

  1. Pingback: Seeds, weeds and kingdoms | From guestwriters

  2. Pingback: Germinating small seeds, pebble-stones, small and mega churches and faith – Belgian Ecclesia Brussel – Leuven

  3. Pingback: Unbelief, faith and mustard seed | From guestwriters

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