Tag Archives: prayer

A Prayer for Your Thursday Afternoon

Here’s why I love written prayers, poems, and stories: they often use words to explain the thoughts and emotions that we may not be able to fully articulate. As a visual, emotional, internal processor, putting how I’m doing or what I’m feeling into words is often a challenge. It’s not uncommon for me to voice something days or weeks after I initially felt it, after finally having worked it out in a way that can be expressed. Anytime I can borrow the words of someone else, I often find myself blessed and moved. It can make me feel less alone. It can put words to what I’m seeing or feeling. It can give a sense of eloquence and beauty to situations that often feel confusing and messy.

A friend shared this poem with me recently and as it’s been passed around our campus, I’ve realized more and more about how well it speaks to where so many of us are right now. Somewhere I will probably be for the rest of my life. A place of trust. A place of unknown. A place of waiting. A place of tension between the newness and oldness of what I see the Lord doing. A place of faith.

May you meet Jesus at the well today.

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Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something
unknown, something new.
And yet it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through
some stages of instability—
and that it may take a very long time.

And so I think it is with you;
your ideas mature gradually—let them grow,
let them shape themselves, without undue haste.
Don’t try to force them on,
as though you could be today what time
(that is to say, grace and circumstances
acting on your own good will)
will make of you tomorrow.

Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be.
Give Our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.

Teilhard de Chardin

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The Power of Prayer

I hate to admit it, but I sometimes go through waves when it comes to prayer. I wish I could say I am 100% prayer warrior all the time, but if I’m honest, I have to say I go through seasons. Sometimes I believe prayer has the power to change the world and the idea of praying unceasingly comes naturally. Then there are other seasons where, though not from a lack of love for the Lord, praying just doesn’t feel all that important. Prayer is always powerful, but sometimes it is easier to let that truth grip my heart and sometimes I have to fight for it.

The past few months have been the latter kind of season. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to pray, it’s just that prayer lost some of its priority in my heart. As I wrestled through different life circumstances, I began to question the true impact or power of prayer.

And then some seemingly small events in the past two weeks reminded me of the significance of prayer. The truth that the Lord hears and delights in responded to our petitions. The fact that He loves to have our hearts aligned with His.

With these recent musing on prayer, I found a post that I wrote my senior year of high school, a time when I believed and saw the tangible reality of prayer. My hope is that by dusting off some of these old truths, they will breathe new life into your hearts. It has for me.

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April 2013

“I have felt the impact of your prayers these past weeks. I am certain now that nothing has had a more powerful influence on this life of mine than your prayers.” Jim Elliot

“Prayer is the mighty engine that is to move the missionary work.” A.B. Simpson

“Pray for great things, expect great things, work for great things, but above all pray.” R.A. Torrey

“It is possible for the most obscure person in a church, with a heart right toward God, to exercise as much power for the evangelization of the world, as it is for those who stand in the most prominent positions.” John R. Mott

“The history of missions is the history of answered prayer.” Samuel Zwemer

“We can reach our world, if we will. The greatest lack today is not people or funds. The greatest need is prayer.” Wesley Duewel

“I believe it will only be known on the Last Day how much has been accomplished in missionary work by the prayers of earnest believers at home…I do earnestly covet a volume of prayer for my work — but oh! for a volume of faith too. Will you give this?” James Fraser

I’ll be the first to admit my discipline in prayer is extremely lacking. But praise to be to God who is stirring up my heart, burdening me for His people and places. Will you allow Him to move your heart for the work He is doing around the world?

I love the image that we get to approach the Throne of Grace on the behalf of others. Let the intercession of God’s people pile up before His throne, just as Revelation 8:4 says,

“The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of God’s people, went up before God from the angel’s hand.”

It amazes me that we are loved by the Creator of the universe, who delights in our asking and seeking. In Scripture, prayer moves the heart of God, but more than that, it changes the heart of the believer. We pray to stand in agreement with God and with His people. That has the power to change everything inside of us.

The Lie of Over-Processing

Maybe it’s just me that struggles with “over-processing.” Or overthinking. Call it whatever you want. The point is, I think about things deeply. My brain never shuts off. It’s how I’m wired. Everything in my life has always has meaning, no matter how insignificant or simple it might seem. And that can be such a gift when it comes to looking at people and the things Jesus is doing in their lives. But like with any gift, it can also be used to hinder and distract me from what the Lord is actually doing. I felt something a little similar at the beginning of Sophomore year, thinking about how I press into my emotions instead of Jesus. I feel like I keep learning the same lessons over and over, just in slightly different ways. I’m learning and growing, I guess I just haven’t arrived yet. Then again, when did this become about the destination instead of the journey? My dad explained it as playing a whole game of chess in my head when I’m thinking about the next move: “if I move this piece then they could move that piece or that one,” “maybe I should move that one instead,” “I don’t want to move the wrong piece and regret it two moves later”. . . Basically a lot of what I’ve been thinking lately boils down to this: when I don’t process things with Jesus, or when I over-process/overthink things, it leads to the re-surfacing of a lot of fear. When I submit things to the Lord and He speaks into them, there is always a lightness, a clarity, and an “aha” moment, even if I don’t totally understand or like what He’s saying. I can tell if there’s a problem when pressing into things is confusing and overwhelming. When it feels like pieces that don’t fit together. When it feels like fear. I know it’s not the Lord when I’m thinking more about things than what is actually happening. Or when I’m talking more about things than I am submitting them to Jesus. People say all the time that we need to sit and wait and listen for the Lord. And that is so true. But waiting on the Lord is never passive. It never breeds fear or confusion. It always leads to freedom and life. His yoke is easy, remember? It’s the Enemy who would love for us to get wrapped up in our heads about whether or not what we are doing or saying is right, or enough, or really the will of the Lord. The beautiful thing about the love of Christ in my life is that it frees me to live. We are free to be human, continually transformed by His grace. We are free to embrace our failures because they don’t define us and they lead us to new places of humility. I think back to the “failures” of Abraham. Even when he made decisions without pursuing the Lord first, God was still very much in them. He’s bigger. He’s always been bigger! We have to have a view of God where His love, sovereignty, and omniscience are bigger than our humanity. Bigger than our emotions. Bigger than our fears. Bigger than my fears. Waiting upon the Lord doesn’t mean I have to sit and process until I understand everything. Seeking the Lord doesn’t mean I have to have all the answers. But, if I’m honest, that’s often how I act. We wait and seek with freedom, childlike faith, joy, and security in His love. IMG_4507

So what are we afraid of? What is my overthinking mind so afraid of?

Am I afraid that I’ll be rejected? Because I’ve already been accepted by the King of Kings. And if I’m rejected by people, it will be a place of humility, which will probably dethrone some idols in my heart if it means that much to me. Or that I won’t be perceived well? Well, that’s a fear of man and not God. If I’m overthinking what others may be thinking about me, there are very few more worthless ways of spending my time. Not only am I not living in the security of my identity in Jesus, I’m focusing so much on myself that I’m missing what the Lord is doing in the lives of other people. I miss the opportunity to see it, be blessed by it, and encourage them in it! Am I afraid that I’ll make the “wrong choice” or do the “wrong thing?” Then I’m not living in an understanding of the grace of the Lord. If I’m pursuing Him in everything, then I have to trust in His superiority and providence. While I need to be listening for His voice and the nudges of His Spirit, if I can’t read other people’s minds, how much less can I read God’s? I’m never going to figure out what He is going to do, so I might as well focus on seeing His movement and grace in the moment and stop trying to “process” what the next move is going to be. He never fails. He never leaves. I don’t have to be processing things to be seeking Him. I should be seeking His will in Scripture and in prayer, not in the circumstances of my life that I don’t understand. We all know that He loves to be found by those who seek Him. What an awesome God we serve and are loved by.

A Prayer Journal Entry

Brace yourselves. I’m about to get real, real over here.

When I was praying the other night, I had to have some Maddie and Jesus honesty time. And while normally Maddie and Jesus talks stay between Maddie and Jesus, I felt like I needed to share these. First, I want to let you know where I’ve been spiritually. I should only be sharing highlights if I’m not afraid to be real about the less than ideal stuff too. Second, I want to let you know if you have been in/are in/will ever be in a weird, confused, and kind of upset but also still in love with Jesus place that doesn’t totally make sense, you aren’t alone. I’m pretty sure it’s just part of the journey. And finally, I wanted to let you read how I write when I pray, since I’ve found writing things down often helps me sort through what I’m thinking or what I feel like the Holy Spirit is speaking. I love learning how other people connect with Jesus or use their journals, so maybe you care about that kind of thing too.

This is a genuine, recent entry out of my prayer journal (excluding some personal details). Welcome to the heart of a girl whose life isn’t always on-my-knees-first-thing-in-the-morning and praying-for-the-cashier-because-the-Holy-Spirit-said-to kind of love for Jesus. Sometimes my love for Jesus, in a very non-glamourous way, means I have to tell Him I’ve had some expectations that He hasn’t met. And we have to deal with that. So this entry actually has a lot of uncomfortable vulnerability and bad theology. Yeah, I know. Don’t say I didn’t (…say I didn’t) warn you.

• • •

Where’s my first love, Lord?

Where’s the love and zeal I used to have for you?

It’s not that I stopped loving You. Or stopped pursuing You. Or stopped believing in You. But I’m lying to myself if I say that we are okay. That everything is like it used to be.

I’ve doubted Your power. I’ve questioned Your love. I’ve believed that You aren’t wholly trustworthy. I’ve relied on my own strength. I’ve dismissed the ways You’ve moved and spoken in my past. I’ve ignored Your voice. I’ve accepted some easy, powerless rhythm with You as normal and comfortable. I’ve stopped clinging to the truth that You are as good as You say You are. Because, why?

I used to run to You. To prayer. To listening. To community. To worship. To deep places and deep things. To just being with You. 

It’s like my Spirit was all dried up by questions and confusion and unmet expectations. 

I think I’m angrier with you than I want to believe. I’ve followed you so wholeheartedly. My family has followed you so wholeheartedly. I could go down the list Lord. I just don’t understand. . .

And I know. I know what You’ll say. Maybe that’s why I’ve let the fire fade, or something. Because I don’t want to hear, “You aren’t supposed to understand. You have to just trust me.” Again. 

I can hear the bad theology reverberating in my head. I know what lies sound like. But I can’t help but feel like You’ve broken promises to me. I feel like You’ve let me down.

I hate that because I know it’s not true. I hate that because my life isn’t dramatically or catastrophically falling apart. And maybe, even more, I hate that because I don’t know how to fix it. I don’t know how to get back to the old us.

It’s not that I don’t love You. It’s not that I don’t want to love You. I want to want You again. I want my first love. I want pictures and discernment and just being with You. I want to believe in the power of prayer and the weight and glory of everything You can do. I want hours in your presence that feel like just a few minutes. I want You to the be the first and last thing I think about everyday. I want to pray for people and encourage people and see Your heart for people again. I want to remember what it’s like to be overwhelmed with all the finite love I’m capable of for You. I want to be overwhelmed by Your infinite love for me. I want to be reminded. I need You to remind me.

Wanting it is enough, right? It has to be enough. I feel like it’s all I have.

I don’t know when my Spirit dried up or died down. I don’t know when one of our wheels slipped off the track. I don’t know when I started building up cynicism or anger or hurt towards You. But I need you to teach me how to seek Your face again. Because I really do love You.

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