Thursday, March 27, 2014

6 Myths You May Believe About Prayer

Earlier this week I wrote about Selah’s audacious prayer to become a flower girl & God’s answer literally 2 days later (she is going to be the cutest flower girl this coming June)!  You can read her story here.

This story has propelled me to think about prayer quite a bit this week and I realized that there are a lot of myths surrounding prayer.  Somewhere along the line we buy into a lie that prayer is found in a formula or has to look a certain way…so I wanted to share with you 6 myths that I’ve believed at one time or another.

The 6 Myths of a Good Prayer Life

1.  You have to pray at 5am.

Now granted, Mark 1:35 says, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.”  And I WANT to be like Jesus, but everytime I have attempted to pray super early I usually end up drifting to sleep.

My husband gets up early to pray and when we first got married I thought I must not have a real prayer life because I preferred to pray when I was actually alert…and so I tried to mimic him and it was a colossal failure!  I now thing that ANYTIME is a good time to pray.  Paul says that we should pray without ceasing…and that includes 9am or 2pm (thank the Lord!)

2.  You have to pray for at least 1 hour
There was a movement in the church world a couple of decades ago that encouraged people to pray for an hour, and the motivation was good.  We need discipline in our prayer life, but for many people an hour is a daunting task so we don’t try at all.

And have you ever really prayed your heart out only to look at the clock & realize it has only been 5 minutes?  If you really pray for 5 minutes – awesome!  Maybe tomorrow you could try praying for 10 minutes…I think that the key is that you pray long enough that you get through your lists and begin slow down so that you actually connect to the heart of God.  Sometimes that connection happens quickly and sometimes my mind is in such a place that I need to pray for a long time before I get my agendas out of the way.  Just pray…forget about the clock.

3.  You have to speak eloquently in the type of language suitable for God
Have you ever prayed with a group of people and marveled at those who’s prayers sound so eloquent?  There was a season in my life where I could make my prayers sound really good…but they were empty.

There is no right or wrong way to pray to God – just talk to Him…and then listen to what He says in return.

4.  You have to be in the perfect environment (prayer closet)
I have a friend who has the ULTIMATE prayer closet.  It has a chair, mood lighting, music…I mean it sounds awesome!  And for a while I would think to myself – well, I’ll really pray when I have an environment like that.  I’ve come to realize I won’t likely have that perfect place for many years.

I’ve discovered that I can make a lot of environments perfect for prayer.  I love to pray on my back porch while my girls run around and play.  I have a chair in my living room that is by a big window and I also love to sit there and read my Bible in the early morning.  I usually get interrupted in both locations (I have a pre-schoolers)…but I realized that if I wait until I have the perfect place I’m never going to pray.

5.  Your prayers don’t count when you lose your train of thought or fall asleep
Let’s be honest - how many times do you pray and all of a sudden find yourself thinking about fantasy football or what you are going to cook for dinner that night?  I know I do that ALL of the time & I used to berate myself when that happened thinking it invalidated all of my previous prayers.  That’s not true!  It happens to us all!

And have you ever been meaning to pray and wind up falling asleep?  Me too!  Oh well – I think God’s cool with it, but we need to stop feeling guilty for all the ways we fail when it comes to prayer.

6.  Your prayers aren’t important when compared to the needs of the world
Yes, there are very real needs in this world – poverty, sex trafficking, and war are all happening at this moment.  And we need to pray for the nations!  At the same time, God cares about what is important to your heart.  He is big enough to see it all and care about it all.  It’s easy to feel like our prayers are unimportant when a friend is battling cancer or has a tragedy in their life, and probably those things are on your mind because you can pray for that friend – you can lift them up…but know too that you don’t have to ignore your own obstacles and needs. 

This is why I shared Selah’s story.  Prayer at it’s essence is relationship!  God wants to connect with you.

I like the way Martha Kilpatrick says it, “Prayer is not an occasion, Prayer is not a set activity, Prayer is a joyful gaze at the Father from a state of utter, childlike need.”

So let’s set aside these myths and come to God as His children – He is waiting and ready to hear what you have to say.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Faith of a Child

A couple of nights ago, Selah and I were in the midst of her nightly bedtime routine.  After Josh tells her a story, she and I always have “talk time” which has included discussions ranging from why she is EXACTLY like Elsa from Frozen to deeper questions about death and how babies come into the world (help me Jesus!).  I never know what to expect during talk time – the mind of a 4-year old is a wonderous thing, but I have come to cherish this bedtime ritual, and even though I’m often exhausted by the time “talk time” arrives, I get energized by her enthusiasm and sometimes deep questions.

Earlier this week was no different as I sat down next to her and she started off a discussion on weddings.  I have no idea how weddings came to her mind, but mostly she was lamenting the fact that she has NEVER been a flower girl, and ALL of her cousins have!  

“Mom!  Peyton has been a flower girl…and Molly was one too…and Maci!  Mom, Maci is EVERYONE’s flower girl!”   

I was about to refute this claim, when I thought through her cousins and realized that she was in fact correct with her findings.  Each of her cousins have been in a wedding in the role of flower girl, and we have listened to their delightful stories of pretty dresses, flower petals, and the fun of weddings! 

I tried to explain that Maci was a flower girl because she had several single aunts and uncles while all of Selah’s were married when she came into this world.  My reasoning didn’t seem to make much of an impact, and Selah asked if I had been a flower girl when I was younger.  Although I wanted to stand with her in solidarity I had to tell her that yes, in fact I was a flower girl for my aunt Lisa…and so she was faced with the sad fact that EVERYONE she knew had been a flower girl except her!  This is very real heartbreak for a 4-year old!

So she began asking me about single friends in our lives.  What about…Annie?  What about…Jay?  What were their plans for future flower girls?  She was on a mission that night to find a solution to her dilemma!   

After much talking, I said maybe it was something she should pray about, and as soon as that statement left my mouth I immediately regretted it.  What had I just done?  I felt certain that I had just set my child up for disappointment, because in all reality she wasn’t going to be a flower girl anytime soon.  Why would I have thrown the prayer solution out there?  Ugh!  Parent fail.

She immediately liked my idea and so we began praying, and I listened as she beautifully pleaded with the Lord to  make her a flower girl.  She would do a very good job, Lord…and all of her cousins had been a flower girl – wasn’t it her turn? 

It was such a sweet moment that I wrote a quick status update about it on facebook (because that’s what one does now when their kid is adorable), and I may have prayed my own prayer that God protect her little heart from the inevitable disappointment that I knew would ensue.

Oh Paige, of little faith!

Two days passed and I all but forgot about this prayer when I had a friend come by my office.  Jessica and I have known each other for a few years as she was in our college group when Josh and I led Zoe.  She and I met periodically over the years to talk about faith and her walk with the Lord, and a few months ago she asked Josh and I to officiate her upcoming wedding to Sam.

When she stopped by the office I assumed we would talk about scheduling their pre-marital counseling as I told them that we should start in April, but she had other plans.

Jessica sat down and said that she had been thinking for sometime about asking Selah to be her flower girl.  Cue my astonishment & joy!  She doesn’t know Selah that well – she is closer to Josh and I, but said that Selah had come to mind a few times and had wondered if it would be strange to ask this little girl who she didn’t know well. 

But then, she had a dream 3 nights before in which she had 2 flower girls – Selah & Layla (a beautiful girl from Uganda that my cousin is in the process of adopting).  She told her fiancee Sam about the dream and they decided to ask the girls to be their flower girls.

Jessica talked to my cousin first about Layla, and as she retold the dream my cousin asked her if she had seen my facebook post!  Jessica had not seen it as she hasn’t been on facebook for a couple of weeks…and so that sealed it!

As Jessica told me how this unfolded I almost burst into tears!  How good is God?  How much does He love us and care about us?  Even those small desires in our hearts – He cares!  I’m not saying that everything you ever pray for will get the answer you hope for…but I AM saying we serve a God who loves His kids and I believe He really delights in blessing us.

Selah was downstairs at Kids Day Out, so I took Jessica to talk to her, and you should have seen her face.  She didn’t know what to think about this offer – it was like she wanted to jump up and down and be surprised all at the same time…so she just giggled and said yes.  Later on she did jump and dance & she immediately called her daddy to let him know her exciting news.

As she told her BIG news to everyone she saw, I noticed that two different things came out of her mouth:

“Jesus answered my prayer!”


“My dream came true!”

Thank you Lord for making her dream come true.  Thank you for being a God who hears our cries and pleas.  Thank you for loving us and loving even the small things that feel big to our hearts.  And help us…help people like me who are small in our faith…who forget how to pray courageously and with abandon.  Help us to trust that you are a good God who loves and lavishes His kids with good.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Why I'll be Observing Lent this Year

Growing up as a Charismatic, evangelical preacher's kid, I always associated Lent with legalism and eating fish.  But a few years ago I was feeling like I didn't really grasp the joy of my salvation - you know...just coasting through life...taking most things for granted.  Most Sundays felt the same, and Easter was basically just a super-fun Sunday when I got to wear a new dress.  I didn't like my relationship with Easter and I was aware that I needed a wake-up call to remind myself of the magnitude of Christ's sacrifice.

So, I started researching Lent - the 40 days leading up to Easter - and decided I would try observing it.  I did my best to really observe it that year.  I went to an Ash Wednesday service (I stood out like a sore thumb unsure of when to stand and when to get my ashes); I learned about days like Maundy Thursday, Good Friday; and I fasted as best I could.  That year, Easter was markedly different in my life.  I wept in our services and my heart was full of such love, joy, and gratitude for what Christ had done for me.

I discovered that I need structure and discipline in my walk with the Lord, and that it is good to set aside times to fast and focus.  I've continued to observe Lent ever-since even though several in my community of faith seem to think it a bit odd.  For me, it connects me to the reality of the the truth that I NEED Him daily and to the joy of what He has done for me.  It has looked different every year, but I try to set aside 40 days to fast and focus on Him.

Lent begins tomorrow with Ash Wednesday, and this year I've decided to join Margaret Feinberg's 40 Day #LentChallenge of reading through the New Testament.  It's basically reading 7 chapters a day, and Josh and I are going to do it together.  Maybe you should join us!

If you'd like more information about this challenge, you can read all about it at Margaret's blog here.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...