Thursday, April 30, 2015

I Want You to Pray

A woman of prayer.  A prayer warrior.  A praying wife.  All words or labels that made me shrink back further into myself believing I was not "spiritual enough" to earn such a statement ever being said about me.  I was not them.  I did not believe I would ever be them.  I prayed, yes, but I didn't pray THAT much.  I didn't pray to the extent that I could be labeled as a woman who was all about prayer.  I was just a normal, every-day Christian who went to church, believed in God and Jesus, had forgiveness from my sins and instilled Biblical principals/truths into my children. I prayed before meals and at bedtime and occasionally throughout the day, but I did not believe I was a "woman of prayer"...until God began to transform me.

I don't have an exact date, but sometime just before the summer of 2012 God spoke to my heart in a gentle whisper.  "I want you to pray" He said.  Nothing more, nothing less.  Just "I want you to pray."  However, with that simple phrase I also knew that what He really meant was that He wanted me to pray more than I had been.  My prayer background in a nutshell went from being a young girl who memorized prayers from my church and prayed for family members before bedtime to a young woman in high school and early college who simply prayed to be heard by someone who cared.  At that point I would tell God about my day, my feelings, what I wanted, what hurt me, and what I thought about everything.  Those prayers consisted mainly of me talking to God and not much of me listening to His response.  After college my prayers really became a place to let it all out without holding anything back.  I would often pray to let all my worries of my career, my marriage and my mothering up to God as a venting session.  I wanted it all off my shoulders and I knew God could handle all of my garbage.  That's kinda what I saw Him as during those years...a Divine Garbage Dump...hoping that if I told Him everything I would feel better.  At that time I also believed I could do things with the gifts God had already given me or with the intuition God had given me so I didn't really need to pray about everything.
I also discovered there was a much deeper-seated issue lacing all of my prayer life.  That issue was I actually didn't fully trust God in the first place.  I did not trust God could actually do what I was asking of Him to do during my prayer time.  Dare I say it, I didn't even trust He wanted to do those things for me.  Because of lies Satan placed in my head and situations of pain and woundedness in my past, I believed God was not as trustworthy as I was.  I knew myself well and knew that I could accomplish things because of the way God created me to be.  Do you see the twisting of the Truth there?  It's such a slight lie...God created me to be good therefore I should be able to be good...without Him.  I didn't have to trust Him, just me.

The situation of being stuck in our adoption process of our youngest daughter at that point in 2012, however, had me finally to a place where I had never really been before.  A place where there was literally nothing I could do to impact, change or make our situation any better.  God used those seemingly dark days to begin opening my eyes and speaking clearly to me, "I want you to pray".  So, I finally obeyed by quitting an amazing group I was attending on Wednesday nights in order to attend the Wednesday night prayer group meeting at our church and spent time most mornings journaling out my prayers in my bedroom.  I found myself excited yet nervous, confident yet humbled.  I remember thinking, "God, I don't know what on earth You are doing here.  Are you really trying to turn me into what I've labeled a 'prayer warrior'?  The woman I said I would never be able to be?  I can't do that!  I can't pray more than I am already...I have a house to take care of, kids to mother, and food to prepare.  I can't even find time to am I supposed to find time to pray more?"
With every fear of the unknown and wrong perception of what I thought I had to be like in order to be called a woman of prayer, I was met by a God who smiled lovingly at me and said "Trust me and just try it."  So, I did and the long story short is that He met me so intimately in prayer that it naturally, OVER TIME, turned me into a different woman.  I can not stress enough that this has been a process.  Remember that three whole years have passed since this nudging to pray first came.  And I am certainly still a work in progress even now!  There are, however, the two major changes I can see in myself because of prayer...1) Instead of believing I am a woman who is quite capable, thanks to God, to handle what comes her way, I know the Truth is I am nothing without relying on Christ in me moment by moment (John 15:5) and 2) Instead of being a woman who trusted herself more than God, I am now a woman who knows deep down to the core of my being that God is the only One who can be trusted (Prov. 3:5-6).
Looking deeper at the first way prayer has changed me, I would say that, yes, God has made me a beautiful woman with a working brain, gifts and talents but they pale in comparison to the abilities of the fresh, alive, and active Holy Spirit.  There is nothing I can do on my own that will equate what the Spirit can do through me.  If I want my prayers to be effective and my actions to have deep, life-changing meaning, I HAVE to rely on the Spirit because He is so much greater than limited me.  Before, my prayers were so focused on what I could do that I left no room for bigger-than-me things to happen.  Now, through experiencing and learning more of God in my times of prayer, I have learned the importance of stepping back and letting Him do what He wants to do.  I have learned to not treat God as a Divine Garbage Dump, my back-up plan, or even my "last resort", but to come humbly before Him immediately and TRUST Him to do more in me and through me then what I could conjure up myself.

That brings me to the second transformation.  Trust.  The more I spend time in His Presence and the more time I read His Word, the more I am convinced that God is always good and trustworthy.  Not just good for me, but good for everyone and everything He has ever created, which is quite honestly beyond what I can comprehend.  I have always had major trust issues with God so I haven't always been able to say that with confidence.  I believe most of those issues came, however, because I alienated myself from Him instead of digging myself into Him even more to learn and stand on the Truth.  Now that I am digging in, I am believing!  I know now more than ever that people will fail me.  Events, situations and circumstances will fail me.  Time will fail me.  This world and all it has to offer will fail me.  I will even fail me.  But not God.  God will always, always, always be there creating good and beauty from ugly ashes and I can trust Him.  I NEED to trust Him.  It truly was only by spending prioritized time with Him through prayer and reading Scriptures that I have come to a place to do that.  Left on my own, I just couldn't.
So now I humbly can say that, yes, I am a woman of prayer.  I was told by a God who loves me more than I love myself that He wanted me to pray, so I have, and I am forever changed because of it.  No, that doesn't mean I pray all day long every day, but it does mean there is a longing in my heart to actually do that now.  It doesn't mean I am somehow "better" than anyone else because I am praying, but it actually means I openly admit I am weak and nothing without Him.  It doesn't mean I never get sad, angry or frustrated with what life has dished out to me, but it does give me an instant, safe place to release all of what I am thinking and going through and replace it with trust and confidence that He is using it and acting on it for good.  The best part for me now is not in the "bringing of the stuff" to Him, but being a recipient of the transformation process.  In essence, it is the perfect way for me to become less of me and more of Him and that is the key!  No matter what we are going through, friends, I believe, we need, need, need to rely less on our faltered selves and more on our perfect, loving, trust-worthy God.  Through prayer, His power can be unleashed.  Through prayer His joy can be unleashed.  Even more, His love is unleashed.  His peace.  His obedience.  His patience.  His direction.  His healing.  His miracles.  His goodness.  His provision.  His discernment.  His kindness.  His revival.  His desires.  His, His, His, not mine, mine, mine.  All this and so much more is unleashed when we put ourselves aside and come trusting Him in prayer.
If I could impart any sort of humble wisdom from my journey onto the next generation or even the current generation, it would be not waste time relying on yourself first and God as your backup.  Do not pray as a last resort.  We truly need less of us thinking He already gave us everything we need so we can do this on our own and more recognizing we still need Him every second of every day in fresh, life-giving, spirit-revealing ways.  Please go to Him first!  He is the only Way to abundant life.  Being a woman or man of prayer or a prayer warrior is meant to be a calling for each and every one of us.  Young and old and all in between.  Prayer is meant for the new believer just as much as those wise in their walks.  We all need more of God and less of ourselves.

All God said to me is "I want you to pray" and my obedience to that has literally changed the very core of my being.  I wonder if He has spoken those very words to more than just me.  I truly hope He has because I am so excited to see what all He could do in our churches, our marriages, our homes or our areas of influence when we decide to pray first and watch Him use us as He wants afterwards.  It would be a sight, I am sure, beyond our comprehension.  Thanks be to God!

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understand, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." -Philippians 4:6-7

No comments:

Post a Comment