Recently I bought a prayer journal. Wanna know why? Because lately, my prayer life has been a wasteland. My prayers haven’t been fervent like Paul’s, or passionate like David’s, or intimate like Christ’s. Instead, they’ve been absent-minded and cynical. What a horrible place to be, and I know it. I knew something had to change. If I couldn’t bring myself to my knees and mutter a half-hearted prayer, I knew I had to literally force my hand. For me, writing has always been my “go-to” way of self-expression. My words flow better from a pen than from my mouth. Because of this, I figured there was no harm in writing out my prayers and then praying over them once I was finished. Something had to change in my prayer life, it was worth a shot.
I’ve only been doing this for 2 weeks and let me tell you – it has been making a big difference! Writing my prayers out keeps me focused on what I am saying, and it keeps my mind from wandering off like it so often does when I pray verbally. The result has been much more intimate prayers and much like McDonald’s, I’m loving it. (I’m sorry, I couldn’t help myself!)
Admittedly, prayer has always been a bit of a struggle for me. I start with good intentions and typically end up with my mind off in no man’s land or, well, asleep. This is obviously a huge problem because I never actually get my full prayer out. While God knows our hearts and thoughts, as well as what we need before we ask (Matthew 6:8), talking with God plays a huge role in how strong our relationship with Him is. If you think about it, this makes perfect sense. How would your relationship with your friends be if you never talked to them? Or if you always fell asleep in the middle of a conversation with them? It wouldn’t be very good. You probably wouldn’t even call them your friend if you never talked to them, and you sure wouldn’t know very much about them. Often we fall into the trap of not praying because of the fact that God already knows our thoughts and needs, but that puts the quality of our relationship with Him at a serious risk. We can’t truly be close to God unless we have quality conversations with Him on a daily basis.
Another reason that prayer can be a struggle for me is doubt. Now, I don’t doubt God’s power. (Wildly underestimating it with my finite human mind, that’s another thing.) Anyway, I don’t doubt that God can answer my prayers. What I do doubt is if God will answer my prayers. To me, it seems like there are so many other people in the world with much bigger, and more important prayer requests for Him to tend to. A prayer from a child begging God not to let her family fall apart seems like it would be much more important to God then me asking for His help for an upcoming music audition. But then I remember something. I once was that little girl, desperately begging God for my family. Was my request back then more important to God than someone praying to have a good day at work that very same day? No. We all go through different stages of need in our lives, and our prayers change accordingly. This doesn’t mean that our more intense prayer requests are more important to God than our prayers for more minuscule things. Our prayers are all equally as important to God, and that is a really hard, but really important, thing to remember.
Through my 2 weeks of prayer-journal experience, God has taught me several things, some of which I have already shared with you above. Another thing that God has taught me is that I need Him just as much when my life is going great as I do when my life is falling apart. Recently, life has been pretty good, but I’ve still got a lot of things that I’m praying about. Slowly but surely, God’s still, small call of “Just lean on Me, Child.” is getting through my thick skull. I am a worrier. I take things into my own hands like Peter, instead of just leaning on the chest of Jesus like John, but through God’s grace I’m desperately trying to “be still and know”.
One of my biggest prayer requests lately has been for my Heartsong audition when I get to Cedarville University. Worship has become such a huge passion in my heart, and I would absolutely love to be a part of such a unique ministry. However, auditions are not, and never have been, my strong suit. (Ironically though, I sing well under pressure, like during a choir concert, or during the morning worship service.) This worries me a lot, because if I don’t do well during my audition, then I won’t get the opportunity to be a part of the Heartsong ministry. So, instead of stressing about this night and day like I want to, I have been consistently praying about it. I know that my prayers won’t give me a guaranteed spot on Heartsong, but I do know that my prayers will help me bask in Christ’s peace that passes all understanding during my audition, and become a little more like John, and a little less like Peter. If I do not make the team, then I know that it wasn’t God’s will for my life, and that is okay with me. Ultimately, what I want is God’s will for my life.
The final thing God has been teaching me that I want to talk about is what I just touched on, and that is seeking God’s will. Oh boy, this one is hard. There are so many things in my life right now that I really want to go “my way”, but I know ultimately God knows what is best for me.
Isaiah 55:8-9 says “‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.'”
Submission is a hard thing, but if there was ever a reason to submit to God, this verse is it. I’m going to be honest with you, submitting your own desires to God’s plan for your life is very hard. It can cost you friends, relationships, jobs, and most likely the plans that you’ve made for yourself. However, in the long run, it will be 100% worth it. God knows what we need, and what is best for us, so we shouldn’t be afraid to submit our lives to His control. After all, He does know what He’s doing.
Wow. All of this from buying a $6.99 prayer journal at TJ Maxx and 2 weeks of intimate prayer to the Almighty. I feel incredibly blessed and honored to be able to share what God has been showing me with all of you. My relationship with God has grown immensely in this short time since beginning my prayer journal, and I’d really encourage you to write down your prayers if your prayer life is struggling. If your prayer life is doing well, I’d like to challenge you to dig deeper and be more raw and intimate with God. He knows every millimeter of your being anyway, why not be 100% open with Him? Prayer is an amazing thing, it can alter your perspective on life in gigantic proportions -you just have to let it.