Does anyone else struggle with the concept of prayer? Does it make you feel less than “spiritual” because you may have doubts in this department? Do you believe God always answers? Even when He answers against what you are believing and praying for? Do you believe that His will is always done here on earth? I do.
Somehow when I have doubts as to how I believe things work out (or don’t work out) – it feels like it goes against the way I was raised to feel or believe. My husband has called me a Calvinist because of some of these doubts and struggles. It is not that I don’t believe we should pray, rather I believe that God answers even when we don’t specifically pray for something. I believe that God created, sees and knows the bigger picture of our lives – and His ways and thoughts are so much bigger than ours. I don’t believe in using prayer as a “rabbit’s foot” – pulled out when we feel we are in serious crisis of mind, body and soul – but rather it should be an ongoing journey to listen and develop the mind of Christ.
Help me not to cry out just when I need something from you.
As Christians do we really believe that God is good all the time? – has our best interest at heart even though we cannot see it? Even if we haven’t prayed specifically for it? Yes. I believe that. Is prayer for God to change His eternal plans already set in motion? Or rather, is prayer for me? Certainly God does not need me to send my shopping list of requests to Him. He knows everything already, right? I believe prayer is a discipline for me that takes years to develop.
Today I found this today on Sandi Patty’s Blog:
Dan Rather, former CBS anchorman, once asked Mother Teresa what she said during her prayers. She answered, “I listen.” So Rather turned the question and asked, “Well then, what does God say?” To that, Mother Teresa smiled with confidence and answered, “He listens.” Rather didn’t know how to continue. He was baffled. “And if you don’t understand that,” Mother Teresa added, “I can’t explain it to you.”
Such a profound thought. You mean I don’t need to say or do anything? Yes. Listening to God’s voice is enough, but often times we cannot quiet our own thoughts to do this. I believe that prayer changes us. I believe this is why Jesus told us to pray. So that we might have understanding and insight. So that we might have quiet acceptance and resolve. Even when things don’t go my way. Even when He doesn’t give me what I want. Even when my bad choices produce difficulty in my life. Even when I am unhappy. Even when I live right and do everything by the book. Even when I follow all the rules and things still go wrong. Even when people die. Even when family members go the wrong way. Even when nothing happens when I pray.
I believe that by spending time with Jesus in submission to His plan and wisdom – we become bendable and pliable. It allows us to look at our circumstances differently. Maybe not at first – but spending time with Him eventually changes us. Even when it looks as though we are doing nothing. Even if it makes us look and feel weak, wimpy and submissive. Even when others around us urge us to be more aggressive in prayer. How are we going to get an answer if we aren’t willing to go there? What happens then, when after we are “aggressive” and exhausted from prayer – God does not answer. Is it our lack of faith? Is it our inability to “pray through”. Were we not aggressive enough? Did we do it wrong? What about those we pray for that do not get well? We didn’t pray enough? Or long enough? Such thoughts are contrary to the Bible.
7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Matthew 6:7,8
Take away my guilt.
Prayer is listening. Prayer is developing trust. Prayer is an open invitation for the Father to know us – and us to know Him. It is about relationship – not a shopping list of requests – prayed by anxious people.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God.” Philippians 4:6
I’m sure I will continue to struggle with this – even though as a believer, I should not. Having faith is believing that no matter what happens to me or those I love in this life – He has it under control. Nothing surprises Him or escapes His notice. Like a loving father who wants to protect, hurts when I hurt and wants so much to reassure even when I don’t understand that he loves all the time – He gets me. He has a plan bigger than I do. And even though I doubt and wonder if there is something more I should be doing or praying about – He still has it. All the time. This simple truth takes years of trust to develop – and I’m still working on it – one day at a time.
So in the meantime – I’m believing and trying to listen, Lord.