Growing up in a solidly, evangelical family I had always heard about "Prayer." It was something that was done regularly. I heard all about praying without ceasing and all that prayer was not – it was not a ritual, it was not a shopping list for God, etc. As a child, prayer was something I did because I was told to talk to God, but deep down I always struggled with it. It seemed like a forced conversation where I wasn't sure what to say. It was all the more difficult because it felt one-sided.
Over the years however I've been learning what prayer is all about and I'd like to share those lessons here today. I'm not claiming to have understood all that prayer entails by any means. I'm just describing my journey in discovering prayer.
I've realized that prayer doesn't need words. The Bible says that the Holy Spirit knows what to pray and intercedes for us with groaning.
“We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” - Romans 8:26
Prayer is being quiet; just sitting in silence letting Him enfold you. There have been times when I've just sat enjoying His company or knelt in abject failure, speechless. And each time I've found strength and peace. For in the stillness, He speaks. Either through a word of scripture or a quiet thought. But it is no longer a one-sided conversation.
Prayer is dangerous because it has serious transformational power; and the person being transformed is you. Or in this case, me!
I've gone to the Lord several times with a list of complaints, pointing out the faults in others. Always hoping to hear Him say something along the lines of “I will smite,” or “My wrath will fall on them.” Yet invariably I've been gently led to see the glaring error of my own ways. (Allow me let you in on a secret – this happens a lot in marriage. So if you want to complain about your husband to God, be prepared to change. I've learned the hard way!) As a newly wed, or even now after several years of wedded bliss, each time my husband and I fight, I go to God, asking Him to change him, in so many ways and in so many areas! Yet, each tear-filled session only shows me areas in my own life that are lacking. I have had to die to self several times. However, those times of prayer have transformed me and transformed my marriage.
Prayer is spiritual warfare against an unseen enemy and it works. Before your eyes glaze over hearing that for the umpteenth time, let me clarify that I'm not speaking some Christian jargon. I used to hear it being said all the time, but never understood until I was put in the frontline, so to speak! When I got married, God gave me a mandate. As a wife, my role includes upholding my husband and my family in prayer. This involves fighting a very real battle. We aren't talking about something in theory, but a very practical campaign.
The Bible says:
“For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” - II Corinthians 10:3 - 5
Here, it's talking about applying prayer as a weapon. For example, if someone is behaving irrationally and your irritation is building, you have the choice to have a burst of temper and let some pithy remarks fall or respond in prayer. Honestly there have been many times when I've let my temper get the better of me, but on those occasions when I've responded in prayer, I've seen the irrational behavior change in the twinkling of an eye! Every argument, every thought that is not in accordance to His will can be brought down by a simple prayer. And each time, I know that it's His Spirit working, not anything I did or said.
The Bible also says:
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” - Ephesians 6:12
God has already identified and shown us who the enemy is – not plaguey people – but the powers of darkness! So instead of wasting time grumbling and complaining about folks and their bad behavior, prayer enables you to go on the offensive and tackle the real enemy. Prayer is fighting – the right way!
So be encouraged, for me, it's taken a while, but I'm learning that prayer is essential in my life and in the life of every believer. It truly does work if I'm willing to allow God to work in His ways and to change me in the process.
Have you ever struggled in your own prayer life?
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