Before the events of this summer I thought I knew how to pray. You talk to God. How much more simple can it get? Actually doing it was a different matter…
I’ve learned that it is pretty simple. You talk to God. But you actually talk to Him. For me anymore life is a series of interruptions in my conversation with God.
Now, please don’t interpret that as I’m super holy. I’m not. I still have no idea how to witness to my coworkers in Optimus (we were regaled most of yesterday with guy-I-will-not-miss’ weekend exploits. Also, he’s going to be in our room the rest of the week. Guy-I-will-miss moved out yesterday. Sad). I have no idea what to say to them or how to act. Do I laugh at the dirty stories and jokes? Do I maintain a prim and judgmental silence? Turn up K-Love? What I’m going to do is keep praying about it, because if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that prayer works. I cannot count the number of times in the past four months I’ve heard stories of prayers being answered. Big prayers, little prayers, bold prayers, desperate prayers, silly prayers, etc., etc., etc.
Now, if you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, you know that I’ve been praying a specific prayer for about 3.5 months. I’ll let you fill in the blanks, since you’ve probably read it a time or two: I’m praying for God to me and back . Good job! I don’t pray that everyday, but most days some variant of it passes from my mind to God’s ears.
A friend of mine posts a short devotional every morning on Facebook. He’s been doing that for years, probably, and I never really noticed until I was halfway out of the depression woods. Since then I always read them and somehow, it seems like every one is written just for me. Yesterday morning’s post was slightly convicting:
I was convicted because I think through these blog posts I’ve given you the impression that that’s all I pray about for Trent. For me. Like that’s the only thing on my mind about us. It’s not. I see that prayer as the big one, but there are lots of little prayers that I know will also have to be answered to add up to the answer to that one.
God, heal my heart. Heal Trent’s heart.
God, be bigger than my fear. Be bigger than Trent’s fear.
God, prepare my heart for whoever You have for me. Prepare Trent’s heart for whoever You have for him.
Those are some more bigger-ish prayers I feel. There are also the situational prayers; like when I know it’s his weekend with his daughter I pray for their relationship to deepen and strengthen, I pray for him to become a better father, and for his daughter to fully realize how much her daddy loves her and that she would grow to realize how much more her heavenly Father loves her. I pray for his job at his church, for God to bless his ministry and protect him. I pray for his family: his brother is a mailman, so whenever I see a mailman I pray that God would bless and protect his brother and sister-in-law. I pray for his parents when something reminds me of them (or when I have a dream about them, like I did this morning).
I pray for me and my family a lot too. I ask God to keep working in me and in us, to bless my family, to pull us close to Him, to be with members who are struggling with something, or situations I know are stressful for us. I’d say a good half of what I talk to God about is thanksgiving. There is so much to be thankful for, everyday, especially how God is changing me. Yesterday at lunch my mentor was ranting about something that was upsetting her. I’m a person who likes to help fix problems, so I was sitting there listening to her passionate words, getting slightly riled up myself, and thinking of what I could do to help her address her issue. Then God reminded me “Anessa, this isn’t your problem. Don’t stick your nose in where it doesn’t belong and make the situation worse.” It was hard not to – I just want to make it better! As I was driving back to work I was still trying to figure out what I could do, when God was like “hey, why don’t you do something you can do about it?” I knew what He meant. So I prayed for my mentor to find the right words and the right time to address this issue in a way that would have the most positive effect. The burning desire to fix it immediately went away and I felt like I still helped with her issue. Plus now God is on the problem, and He is the most brilliant at solving problems.
I usually pray in the mornings yet, when I’m not writing blog posts too late into the evening to get my necessary seven hours of sleep. I wake up and say “Good morning, God! How are you?” It usually looks like I’m sleeping (and sometimes I am), but sometimes sleep is holy too. I ask God what He wants to talk about and then we chat. Sometimes it’s only for a few minutes. Other times its for longer. Sometimes the conversation is so good I don’t want to stop and then I’m late getting up. Sometimes I just push snooze too many times and then I’m late getting up too. I guess all this is to say that my time talking with God isn’t regulated or obligatory. It’s the most precious time of the day for me anymore, so I want to wake up early and talk to God. I crave hearing His voice. I love when He pokes fun at me or He laughs at something I say or when He makes an especially beautiful sunrise or sunset I can praise Him for. I never thought I could love my God this much or have this close a relationship with Him. I never thought hearing His voice would become a daily thing and the days when He is silent are a little bit less. I would do anything to hear His voice every day for the rest of my life, even though I know there will be days when He is silent. I don’t want anything to come between us and I long for the day when we will no longer be separated by anything, when we can see each other face to face and enjoy each other’s company forever.
Goodness, sounds like I’m in another long distance relationship. I am, in a way. I can’t see God and sometimes it feels like He’s busy and can’t talk (which isn’t true – God is always available) and sometimes my sin comes between us and I have to admit it and ask forgiveness for it to restore the closeness of our relationship. Sometimes I get mad at Him (usually for something He didn’t do) and then I have to say I’m sorry for the mean things I say to Him. But this is also the closest and most secure relationship I’ve ever been in. I don’t have to worry about what He thinks about me (He loves me, unconditionally and eternally), I don’t have to worry about Him ever breaking up with me (He said “never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.”), I don’t have to worry about Him finding out my deepest darkest secret (honestly, I don’t have many of those left thanks to this blog) because He already knows everything about me – even things I don’t know about myself, and best of all He loves me enough to make me better, to not leave me the way I am. Together we are working on making me the most Christ-like I can be this side of heaven.
Oh, my faithful blog readers, I want this same relationship for you and God. My brother got married this past June and recently he told my family at the lunch table (I was at work, but my mother told me about this conversation) that marriage is so great he thinks everyone should be married. He’s trying to find someone for my remaining single brother. That’s how I feel about me and God. It’s so wonderful I think everyone should be in a relationship like this.
It won’t be easy – good relationships never are. It’s struggling and working your way through issues and hard times that makes a human relationship strong and it’s the same for a relationship with God. Sure, He’s the most wonderful person ever, but that doesn’t mean that hard times aren’t going to happen when you get together with Him. You can trust that He will use the hard times, redeem them for His own glory and purpose, if you’ll let Him.
And the good times. Oh, the good times. They are the best ever.