Last night we looked at the topic of prayer in our small group, it’s a huge topic so we didn’t finish (I am not sure we will ever be ‘finished’) but we did touch on some interesting things. I was reminded of a post from long ago that I wrote about Tim and the boys and their relationship and how there is a relationship to prayer. As I re read that post in preparation for the talk and as we chatted about prayer I was struck by a few things, things I wanted to write here so that I can put my thoughts to words (selfishly so that I can better understand my own thoughts).
One of the things that we talked about was praying in faith, most of us know the part in the Bible that talks about having faith the size of a mustard seed that can move mountains, or maybe we have read that praying with expectation will see our prayers answered, or maybe we have heard the bits about seeking and finding, knocking and the door will opened to you… whatever part you have read about prayer it seems that the main concept is ‘believe and he will answer’. So then, here’s the thing. Why do some prayers seem like they never get an answer?
I have always worked under the concept that all prayers get answered, sometimes the answer is an immediate YES, sometimes it’s a Yes, but wait, and then there are times when the answer is a simple NO. I still believe that is true. I believe that God hears ALL prayers, and that he answers ALL prayers but in his timing, or in ways we don’t necessarily expect or even want, but always how we need.
My prayer life is a constant in my life, I pray all the time, through out the day for all things. I am an extrovert, it’s how ‘I roll’. I talk… I use words to share. However, when talking the thing I find most frustrating, whether it’s talking to my friend, an acquaintance, family member or even God Himself, is when I don’t get an answer, or if I get told to wait, or if they aren’t listening. This happens alot with prayer. I ask, I ask again, and I get no response, or I vent and get shut down or find that I am not being listened too… I walk away from these encounters annoyed, let down and ultimately just frustrated with the entire episode.
What struck me last night was that maybe my approach to God is not correct, maybe, just maybe I am looking at this prayer thing all wrong. This prayer thing, is something I have talked about a lot on this Blog. I have shared many times about my frustration with prayer, or how important it is, or how simple or how fulfilling, and yet I always come back to it. Like a math problem that I think I understand (I hate math by the way… I am terrible at it!) and then find that when I face the same problem just a few months later I need to re-understand it.
Last night as we talked the main thing that continued to come up was that prayer is TIME spent in God’s presence. It’s not sitting on Santa’s knee once a year, or hitting the wishlist on our favorite shopping website. It’s practicing being in His presence. It’s talking… but more importantly it is listening. (I heard this from the introverts in our group and was struck by it.) I don’t wait to hear an answer… I rattle off my prayers and go about the day feeling HOLY because I took the time to pray at all! If prayer is a a relationship building tool, as talking to your spouse should be, then why do I just say what I have to say and then walk away… ?
If Tim and I are having a conversation it’s two way, I say something, he listens, he says something, I listen and then respond etc. (though admittedly… I have been known to rattle off at Tim as well) What about the times that Tim and I just sit in silence, enjoying being together but not needing words? Words are important yes, there are times when words are needed to share, to express ourselves, to seek help, and to understand (trust an extrovert on that).
I was forced to think back to the time that I felt the closest to God, a time when I was so in tune with Him that there was no bad thing that could happen to me that could cause me to doubt, or allow the joy to leave. It was a time in life when there were huge decisions in front of me, life changing choices, and I knew what path I should take because I just seemed to know where God wanted me to go. So, last night as I thought about what the difference was, why He seemed so far away now, why the water was so murky and the decisions didn’t seem to be as clear cut. What was I doing differently? The answer? I was spending time LISTENING to God. I was drenched in the scriptures, I was worshiping, I was actively praying, praising and just spending time in His presence. In a sense I was sitting at his dinner table just enjoying the silence.
Last night I was reminded of how important that aspect to prayer can be… in a two way relationship, TIME is the best element to knowing. I have been challenged to re-enter a time of listening, of seeking Him and knowing Him and just enjoying being in His presence.
For more one posts on prayer in this Blog see Not Santa?