~ Growing up, one of my biggest giants as an insecure young Christian girl was being so unsure of how to pray. It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? I mean, who doesn’t know how to pray, right? Well, I didn’t. I was so afraid of being a Christian “wrong”, I always wanted someone to break down the simplest of things and thoroughly explain to me how it’s supposed to be done biblically. (This either sounds incredible ridiculous to you, or you completely understand where I’m coming from.) During a women’s conference one beautiful weekend when I was 16 years old, I was finally granted my wish. A wonderful, beautiful lady whom I’ve always admired was teaching on the Lord’s Prayer from Matthew 6. I wrote down every word she said, soaking it up like a thirsty sponge. I remember she said we need to organize our prayer time just like Christ did. First, you take time to praise the Lord. Then you move on to personal requests, go through the people you wanted to pray for and so on and so forth. I went home and put that into practice, thinking that finally I was going to be the prayer warrior I always wanted to be. But still my prayer time always felt so wooden and disingenuous, and I honestly hated ‘prayer time’. Prayer was something I did because I HAD to, not because I WANTED to. It all just seemed like an act in this system of prayer I followed.
~ About a year and a half ago, I started reading through Psalms. It had been almost 2 years since I’ve read this book and I was craving the wisdom that lies within. I made it through about 4 chapters when a thought hit me and instantly changed my heart on prayer. You see, Psalms is full of prayers. They are pleas made in times of desperation, brokenness, trouble, anger, resentment, and praises given from hearts that are flooded with love and praise for the King. They are the overflow from the hearts of those who were not afraid to be genuine in their faith. This is the kind of prayer warrior I so badly wanted to be. To be free to lay my heart bare, to cry and beg and plea for His hand to move, to be real in my prayer life and move mountains for His kingdom.
~ Christ gave the Lord’s Prayer as a guideline to His disciples to help them learn to pray and show them the kind of things He wanted them to bring to the Father. I don’t believe it was meant to be taken as the system in which it must be done in order to communicate with Him. I don’t know about everyone else, but there are moments when I’m so blessed and joyful that all I want to do is praise God for His love. Then, there are times when I’m hurting and weighted down by confusion and feeling condemned by my constant failings and I want to understand why He is allowing these trials in my life. We have the freedom to do that! We have the freedom to bring our hearts to the throne of the Savior whenever and wherever, in whatever condition it’s in and not have to worry about doing it ‘wrong’. His love for us isn’t dependent on our worthiness and our worthiness isn’t dependent on how well we follow the Christian ‘rules and regulations’ that we have all become acquainted with. If we base any part of our relationship with Christ in legalism than it will always feel ‘wooden’ and ‘disingenuous’ and we will constantly feel like we are failing. Once I understood God’s love and recognized my value and worth in His eyes, my relationship radically changed. I understood prayer, the importance of it and Christ’s heart in giving us this open door to lay all our cares upon Him whenever we needed.
~ We can talk to Him just like we talk to our best friend. We can chat about the trials of the day, or the big exam we don’t feel prepared for, or the person in the car next to us who just cut us off in traffic. We can ask for wisdom and understanding when a situation comes along that shakes our faith and we can sit before Him in silence just content to be in His presence.
“So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” Hebrews 4:16.
~ I love that I can be a Psalms prayer. I can lay my heart out as I feel it and let the Lord make sense of it. Be real with your Creator. He sees and hears your heart. He wants it just the way it is. David is called a man after God’s own heart, and he never shied away from being real with his Father. Don’t confine your prayer time to a list of things you think God wants to hear. Bare your soul to Him, whatever state it’s in, and let Him take your breath away with the depths of His love and the beauty of His gentle and gracious heart. Be captivated by Him. Let Him show you how to truly desire Him. Let Him allure you and speak tenderly to you. Let Him show you your immense worth as you deepen your relationship with Him through prayer.