Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Changing Things

I had a notebook and a Bible and was told to pray for an hour. It was my first week of Bible School and freshman week brought on a crash course in a lot of things from flirting with the droves of new guys to auditioning for a worship band. I sat in an empty dorm room that was waiting for upperclassman to move in and I couldn’t think of a thing to pray for. I grew up in the church and in a Christian home, but I still had no idea how to really pray. It felt awkward and stilted, like a first date gone bad. I cannot tell you how long it seemed to take for that hour to drivel by. I analyzed the bugs in the aluminum window tracks, and thought about the outfit I was wearing, probably wondered if any boys thought I was cute, thought about if I thought any boys were cute, inserted a little prayer here and there, but mostly my mind wandered.

That experience 10 years ago gave me a really bad feeling about setting aside time for prayer. Bible study and a quick prayer, that was okay, but even thinking the words “prayer time” made me cringe. Can I be a Christian and say these things? Prayer sounded so boring and I knew that I would leave the time feeling defeated because my mind wandered more than meditated. My communication with God suffered greatly and it has only been in recent years that I figured out how to pray without it being drudgery. I am only admitting that I am not a “Super Christian” because I hope that my prayer journey might help someone love prayer the way that I do now.

Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.
Psalm 55:17

I pray in the midst of my day, all day long. In normal circumstances, any quiet moment prompts me to pray. It isn’t easy to find this time if you aren’t in the habit. When I realized I had a huge void in my life because of my lack of prayer, I prayed that God would supply the time. And He did. I thought maybe I would magically become a morning person and wake up an hour before my family and find solace in the quiet of the morning. It sounds beautiful, but it didn’t happen. What did happen were moments during the day that opened up: folding laundry, driving in the car, watching little ones play in the yard. I was prompted to pray for what was on my mind, for people I had promised to pray for, for my children, my husband, and my attitude. I have to work at it too at times by putting down the novel that is tempting me, or by putting the computer to sleep, or not calling a friend just to chat when I have a moment of quiet. God is waiting and I always feel refreshed after praying to Him.

In every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
Philippians 4:6

Philippians 4:6 is a favorite verse of mine because it reminds me to pray for everything in my life and to be thankful. For each request I have, I also thank God for something. Anything. In the midst of a busy and sometimes irritating day, it is hard to think of blessings, but when I do, I am encouraged by all that God has done for me. It might be something as silly as “Lord, help me find my car keys. Thank you for this car and I need your help to find the keys and to keep better track of this blessing you gave me.”

"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened."

Because of my habit of intermittent prayer, I have experienced many blessings in my life. Prayer changes things, maybe not the immediate circumstance, but my attitude at the very least. I’ve seen profound answers to prayer in my life. There was a person who I couldn’t stand. Again, no "Super Christian" status for me. My sinful nature loved to ruminate on all the irritating things she ever did to me. Then I started to pray for her. Every time I thought of her and was irritated, I prayed for her instead. For the issues in her life that made her irritating to me and for myself, that I would learn to be more accepting and understanding. And the most amazing thing happened over a few years – it didn’t happen over night; I can now say that I love this person. I can even find joy in being with her and it is all because of prayer.

Another blessing that comes from being in the habit of prayer is that praying for longer periods of time no longer freaks me out. “Super Christian” status, here I come! I enjoy talking to my Heavenly Father. It is no longer like a bad first date, but a relationship with a good friend. My mind wanders less often. And when my mind does wander here and there and on to whatever I need to do next, I pray about whatever it is that is taking my thoughts captive. It could be a bill I forgot to pay or a decorating project half complete. God cares about the little things as well as the big things.

Recently we’ve all seen a huge answer to prayer in the life of little Jamin. We thought he might die, but God spared his life as many petitioned God. Whether we spent hours down on our knees in fervent prayer, or whispered a plea to God in between and during our everyday chores, I believe God loves to hear our prayers. He asks us to pray. And we need it too. I hope your prayer life has been improved because of Jamin -- I know mine has. And as the crisis passes, I hope that we can all keep on track with God. Finding bits of time here and there, being thankful and remembering how good our God is. So, remember Jamin in your prayers and his specific needs and don’t forget to pray for every little thing in your life as well. God hears.


Lindsay said...

This is very insipring Alysun, and I can relate to much of it. I loved how you shared about praying for the person you didn't like. I immediately thought of someone I need to start praying for! Thank you for the encouragement.

Shawna said...

I thank God for you. I hope you don't think that is weird, but I believe He knows I need to hear (read) what you have to share. I am different because of it. Thank you.

I like the analogy of the awkward 1st date. I feel more like I am at the stage of EHarmony question stage before you even get to email each other let alone go on a date. I am working on it though.

Grandma Sherri said...

We had a whole day at Bible School, so I sure understand.
Love what you have shared about what God is teaching you. When we realize that God is our Father we begin to understand how much he enjoys talking to us whenever, wherever. If only we fully comprehended- I don't think we can pray enough. Sure wish we could conquer the mind wandering thing- but our conversations with one another often wander all over so I'm sure God understands that too.

Sara said...

Thanks for your honesty, Alysun. This is a weak spot in my faith and I've got much farther to go than you...let me know when you get to that "Super Christian" status. ;o)

I love what your mom wrote about mind wandering in her above comment - I've never thought about it like that!

Ariel said...

This is so helpful to me. I have never been the one to love prayer, so it's encouraging to know it can pass. Thank you for your words.

Joy said...

Hey I needed this today! Thanks Ali:)