Have you ever considered the statement, “You are in my thoughts and prayers.” I have found that this is such a statement of
(in)consideration, truly a good majority of people say this as a form of pleasantry and never with intention. I am not quite sure why this irks me, but when people say “you are in my thoughts and prayers” I want to reply, “Am I really or are you just saying that because it sounds heartfelt and reassuring?” What people may not realize is the power of a prayer. To be a pray-er you have a conviction that you believe what you are saying, that there is power on a very human and supernatural level that God and the cosmos will hear your pleas, cries, and requests.
I never understood prayer. Being boldly honest, I was that smug, ass of a human to say, “I’ll pray for you” of which I thought quietly to myself how horrible their situation is and wish it better. I never clasped my hands, closed my eyes and opened my heart to the possibility that God may hear my plea. Albeit I was selfish, only praying for myself when the moment seemed dire or I had tremendous fear: a long road trip, a flight, or any other personal want.
I never understood how to pray. One might think, well you bow your head, close your eyes, clasp your hands, maybe fall to your knees, or raise your hands to the sky and plea to our Almighty to hear our requests. While these are a few forms, to pray means to really believe in your request. You must feel in your heart, soul, in the very fiber of your DNA, that you believe in the request you are asking of your Father. I compare this to my kids asking for something they really want. They come to myself or The Chad, mostly The Chad(…since I have a tendency to say NO…go figure God would be our Father, Dad’s are better about giving us what we ask for) and make their request with the strongest possibility that we will say yes, but they do not expect any let down. They are open to unimaginable possibilities with our answers, that we may offer up a concession to their request in which we have an answer, with a twist.
A year ago I attended a conference on prayer. Before the conference I read a book by the keynote speaker, Mark Batterson called The Circle Maker. Mark heads up a church in Washington, DC and he prayed circles. By circles I mean he would walk the blocks in the area in which he wanted his church to be planted, he walked circles around the lives and neighborhoods he wanted to transform, he walked circles and prayed while making those circles. His continuous efforts meant that he prayed with conviction and specificity for what he was looking to accomplish, by his consistent efforts his prayers were answered. Maybe not how he expected to a tee, but they were answered where needs were met.
His book and conference transformed the way I looked and thought about prayer.
I began to journal my prayers. I began to make prayer circles for what were extremely bold, sometimes superficial, requests we had in our lives. What happened next was not as I expected.
Nothing happened. I even became bored after just two short weeks of writing in the journal of these prayers.
I cursed. I was pissed. I wanted to throw in the towel. What in the bloody world would make these prayers come to be? I believed in these prayers. Requests happened for others, why not me? Why wasn’t God listening to what needed to happen, what needed to be fixed, healing ills, healing hearts, completing miracles.
I found I didn’t believe enough in my requests. I wasn’t broken enough. By broken, I was not allowing myself to succumb to the possibility that He could be moving in my life. By broken, I was not allowing for my life to be transformed by faith. Lacking in conviction I tossed aside prayer because quite frankly I wasn’t feeling it. As most do, they don’t feel the stirring that true conviction in prayer can bring. I also lacked the faith that God saw a higher plan for me. (Deuteronomy 29:29)
Take getting fired. Praying with conviction and stirring to find a new job, to escape the confines of my misogynistic boss. My prayer needed to be less about me. So when I began praying to find a job that made me happy, that made a difference in the world because I felt I was destined for something greater for Him and when I prayed for wisdom for the misogynist…
BAM! Prayer answered. Literally. Less than one month into praying for the boss to have wisdom I was fired.
God has a wonderful sense of humor.
We make these bold requests, prayerfully and faithfully expectant that He will eventually answer those prayers. Sometimes what our prayers need is more specificity in seeking answers. Sometimes we fail to remember is that the answers come in His time…
We so desperately want things to happen overnight. We so badly want our circumstances to change that we begin to muddle the situation. Meddling in the fine details and operations that we then change our prayer direction because something broke. So we pray for the broken to be repaired and we pray for those changes in circumstances. In those moments I found the best action to take is nothing. Do nothing but pray. God likes to let things break to show us that our earthly ways are not working, stop getting in the middle of the plan.
For example after being fired I immediately began looking for another job. Futilely and completely in vain I hunted for months. Broken, depressed and feeling less than worthy, struggling with what felt like impending doom with the holidays and tightened finances. I took to writing again in order to relieve my struggles, coupled with bold prayer. Admittance I was broken both in my posts and my prayer. What happened next was less than extraordinary.
Tithing 10% of my small unemployment and praying. Emails began to roll in for Christmas promotions. A friendship was rekindled that helped me utilize my God given ability to put emotions and thoughts to words, this same friendship encouraged me to begin promoting on my blog for Christmas. In just a few short months leading up to Christmas I was able to stuff my tree with items that were promotional goodies that you see posted on my blog. These items were transformed into gifts for my children. Yielding enough money to pay for all of Christmas, simply because I have a passion for words. A God given gift to write. A heaven sent answer from prayer. What was even more spectacular was The Chad’s bonus that we had not expected had allowed us to help answer one of our children’s prayer circles that they had: quads.
Prayer moved me more than just these superficial moments. At our 24/7 Prayer event that we had this past fall I signed up to pray for two hours. The church does a phenomenal job of providing prayer prompts to guide you through some of our most basic struggles with life and prayer. I attended with zero expectations and opened my heart. Guided to a black curtain station, setup for privacy reasons, I was greeted with the most uncomfortable and life changing of prayer moments.
What was suppose to only be about ten minutes of prayer in this station, where I would move on to other stations, resulted in a full 60 minutes of deep, trembling, crying until my eyes hurt, prayer for forgiveness. I prayed for those who had wronged me, forgiving them because I was holding onto the pain for me, I thought I couldn’t forgive them because that would mean they won, so I prayed for forgiveness. At the close of my session, I prayed for myself. I prayed that all I had done wrong to myself, how my horrible choices inflicted so much pain, the pain I felt just fueled more pain. The one person and event whom I had total control also resulted in being the most damaging at times. Exiting that day after my hour I felt rejuvenated and freed. The bonds of torture no longer applied to me. I let go of my anger. I let go of the pain. I embraced the power of prayer.
Looking back at those moments in prayer, observing our prayers and prayer circles, a gritty, raw, realization was made. Everything we wanted as a family, as individuals, had to do with passion. We update our prayer circles based on our passion, specificity and knowing that everything happens in time based on His plan.
I prayed for a new job and was fired. I prayed to become a mom and was gifted three amazing children. I prayed to provide for Christmas, tithed and received an abundance to give to my children. Today I pray more than I have ever prayed before because I know that He is listening. He provides me the comfort in taking away the superficial worry of occasions, events and happenings that are out of my control. He provides me guidance in struggle, clarity in uncertainty, resolve in our conversation. Feeling a conviction that sweeps over you with chills, that makes your very being tremble and shudder is powerful and brings us to our knees in joy and thanksgiving. Take the discomfort out of the thought of prayer by finding comfort in prayer. Believe it, feel it, and see what happens next. Stop using prayer as a conversational consideration but as consideration for conversation.