Thursday, July 31, 2008

How to Pray...

I so appreciate those of you who respond via comments, emails, phone calls. It seems as though I have touched a nerve, because I know it, and I'm sure many of you do too. We are not good "prayers", as a rule. We say things like, "I'll pray for you," but what does that really mean? In my case, I have to confess that it means I'll think about it once in a great while, and toss up a quickie if the moment permits. I have the attention span of a gnat in prayer. Which is why I make a fine liturgical the least the formal prayers keep me focused for a time longer than I can do so myself. But I am a lazy sack of crap too. This is a favorite family insult, and someday I'll tell you all the story of how it got cemented into our family vernacular, because trust me, it's a good one. But I digress. I am getting sedentary, and lazy about what I eat, and not surprisingly I feel like a slug. A slug with a sluggish digestive system, and weak, achy limbs. But do I DO anything about it? No. I just whine about how tired I am, and how old I feel.

At this point most people I know rush in and tell me I'm one of the most energetic, organized people they know. They point out that I look trim and healthy, and we all know in most books that's what really matters. I look the part of an energetic, youthful woman, and I look the part of one who has her act together spiritually. It would probably be simpler if my house was a pigsty and I was getting quite fat. Then, in some ways, it would be hard to deny the problem. But you know what you know, and I know that a slug lives here. I don't even know what I ought to be praying for. I have this list of things that worry me...sort of nibble away at the edges of my mind. I suppose they might make the list. I have some BIG CONCERNS. Definitely on the list. I have some vague impressions, about things I ought to be doing, places I ought to be going. Do those make the list?

Then what do I do with my list? Should I even have a list? Of course I should. God made me a list maker, so I'm pretty sure He "gets" my lists. Do I pray over my list? It always seems so selfish to focus on what I see as important. Plus I feel like I am reviewing my grocery list. Other people say they will pray as well. What does that mean? Well, not much if their prayer life looks like mine.

Can I warn you that this is one of those vague impressions, that has difficulty making its way onto the list because I'm not sure how to word it or explain it to myself, much less anyone else? I think prayer is the key to everything, and we are all walking around with it in our pockets, not using it to open anything at all. I think it is because we are afraid that the key might actually be a stick of dynamite, and if we set off the charge it will blow us and our lists up. I think some of us walk around with our hand in our pocket thinking, "I might just light this stick of dynamite some day, and see what happens." I know I do.

P.S. Please don't send me a comment telling me to read a certain book about prayer. I've read a lot of great books about prayer, but I still walk around with my hand in my pocket, wondering.


QueenB said...

I get disconnected when I feel I have been wallowing for so long, and the original enthusiasm and urgency of the prayer have become pressed to the back of my mind, knowing that I have already prayed on that, the issue still exists, and okay, I'll just keep trudging.

However, last night I was reading an article in Above Rubies, about how the husband had been praying and believed that satan was trying to snatch their unborn baby from their grasp. They went to Hebrews 11:1. I spoke with my husband about this, of how strongly I felt that this was what was happening with this particular group of children we are interested in, and that we needed to claim our absolute dedication to serving Him, and claiming that He will give us strength, even if having these particular children causes extreme stress and hardship, and mental anguish and all the other known entities that come with adoption. We prayed with confidence and surety that He is able to cause everyone to be united in the decision.

So, to make your praying easier, I will define exactly what prayer I am seeking. I am asking for immediate, right at the moment you (or anyone else) reads this, that you stop and pray that everyone involved in our current prayer issue will be in unity with making a decision, that they will choose the outcome we believe will honor the Lord and allow us to serve as we believe called, and that satan will not hinder. That we be girded in His strength, that we postitively mean that "we are here, send us" and that we want to be assigned to this particular trial in life.

That is what we are claiming, that is how we are praying, that is how we are asking prayer. I had been being lukewarm, and I believe faithless, in asking "pray that such and thus happens, but only if the Lord wills". I know the Bible tells us to speak of our own plans in terms of "if the Lord wills", and I know it is shaky territory to presume upon having absolute knowledge of the Lord's will in any particular case, but we are claiming this, something that we don't normally do, we are saying we will do this, we can do this through His strength, and we firmly believe we are to be faithful in that prayer.

A departure for me from my usual prayer. But, I feel strong and empowered and faithful. And, with that prayer in mind, I KNOW that He will bring about what we are asking. I am standing firmly in His promises. I am not going to think "what if". Just "this is". BJ

Lisa said...

No offense here, but what queenb wrote is exactly my problem. I read this and it makes no sense to me. Most of the time I get confused just reading and drift off.

I found a sib group I was interested in and showed them to my husband. He asked me if I was trying to kill him (hehe). I told him that if we weren't supposed to adopt anymore (we have 10, half with some type of special needs: FASD/OCD/Anxiety/ODD/Educational delays.....) then why was I constantly finding these kids with little or no effort? Maybe God was directing me to them for a reason. He said that maybe it wasn't God, maybe it was Satan who was doing the directing because he thought he was going to have a nervous breakdown. So I prayed over and over to show my husband the patience, understanding and foresight to open his heart to adopting more kids. What more can I do in this situation? Of course, the answer might have been NO or maybe my dh isn't open to seeing this as Godly intervention, but really - when do you let go and accept the answer? I've learned so many times that the answer I get may not be the one I was expecting.

I really know what you mean about praying though. I think how you talk to God can be very simple. It does not have to be formal the way a lot of people demand. I even think it's a mindset. Maybe you are praying all the time and just never thought of it as prayer. I talk to God all the time in my head (and try to listen as well), but do I MAKE time for prayer? Nope. I still have a long way to go if that's the only way God will listen to me.

QueenB said...

Truthfully, so many times we ask and the answer we receive is NOT the answer we anticipated, or prayed for. Oftentimes we go forward so enthused, certain that the Lord will be delivering us in some way, and when it doesn't happen that way, we are a little subdued, maybe a little embarassed, maybe confused, and we perk ourselves us with the comment of "oh well, it wasn't the Lord's will" and then we go on, pinballing our way through life, hoping to bump into just exactly WHAT IS the Lord's will for our lives.

I am usually very tentative and timid about my prayer. I hestitate to ask for such and thus, and simply shrug and say "whatever Lord". And in the back of my mind I am figuring "well, this probably isn't your will so it won't happen" and I set myself up for what I see as yet another denial. This is called doublemindedness. I am praying but not really figuring it is going to happen. Figuring that maybe this one is too big for my God.

GASP. That's a difficult thing to admit in words, let alone allow that thought to cross my mind.

This time I am not doing that. This time I am saying THIS IS WHAT I WANT. This is what I believe YOU (God) would have us do, and this is what I know you (God) can enable us to do. So, here we are, give it to us.

That's a huge leap of prayer faith. I'm not going to deal with what do I tell people if it doesn't happen. My buddy Scraps has been so eloquent to point out that God does not give us grace in our imaginations. So, I'm not imagining that one.

jen said...

My dh and I just started praying together every day. Things started getting very difficult around here.... I really think it has not only power but it bonds us together to help our family.