The Power of Prayer

I’m a journaler. There’s a box in our garage that contains a mismatched pile of diaries, notebooks, and journals from junior high forward. Some of them I’m tempted to throw away because they are so very embarrassing, but then I think about what all those words represent, even the humiliating ones. Those words represent a journey, a mind and heart being molded along the primitive roads of life. All the emotions and thoughts, pain and joy found on those pages are part of a process that never really ends.

Aside from the ocasional embarrassment, I truly enjoy rereading my old journals. More often then not, God uses past struggles or epiphanies to encourage me in the present. This happened recently as I was flipping through my current journal.

prayer

February 12th, 2013 (my momma’s birthday!!)

Sometimes I look at the date and just stare, amazed at how quickly the days progress, making November slide right into February.

I have vastly underestimated the power of prayer. I’m very aware that God answers prayer and that it’s a powerful tool to see change and miracles happen. But prayer goes beyond God’s actions. Prayer isn’t about cause and effect. Prayer is about submission and community, intimacy and surrender to the Lord Almighty. Prayer is less about God moving in our circumstances and more about God moving in our hearts. ( <– Tweet this! )

I was just lost in time for a moment, taken back to the year I was living on the Central Coast of California, working as an innkeeper at The Cass House. I was fresh out of college and the job, living situation and location just fell into my lap – absolutely a God thing. 

After acknowledging how He orchestrated my circumstances, I left Him out of my daily life. I mastered life in Cayucos on my own and then became discontent when things didn’t go my way. I didn’t meet the love of my life, community took effort I wasn’t used to giving, and I missed my family. Instead of brining those feelings to God consistently, I let them stew and grow until the aroma dominated all of my senses.

I was still pursuing God and He did great things in my heart during that time, but I can’t help but wonder what would have happened had I not been so intent on directing my own life. I fI had been bringing my desires to God, maybe heartbreak would have been easier. If I had sought God for comfort and community, maybe I wouldn’t have felt so isolated. If I had been pursuing God’s plan, maybe I would have had more peace about making tough decisions. 

Being a woman dedicated to sharing her heart with her Abba may not have changed my circumstances – and that’s certainly alright when I reflect on what I did experience – but I would have had a heart yielded to God’s will instead of a striving heart trying to manipulate God’s will.

Prayer puts us in a position to be transformed by God. It may not alter our circumstances, but it will alter our hearts. ( <– Tweet this! )

I generally always need to be reminded not to strive or manipulate, but I really needed to be reminded that prayer does more for our hearts than our circumstances. Prayer binds us to our Heavenly Father and brings peace and comfort. I need that.

photo credit: bingbing via photopin cc

Dear Emily {31 Days of Letters}

Dear Emily,

I realized, after writing you that previous letter, I had much more to say.  I could write an advice dictionary to you, with all of my words-to-the-wise in alphabetical order and explained in detail.  Though that would appeal to my type A personality, I think even my younger self would rebel against such blatant superiority.

Superiority is far from what I’m trying to communicate with any advice I give you. Sure, you make mistakes, but believe me when I say, you continue to make mistakes as you grow older and “wiser.”  However, in 25 years, I’ve begun to recognize a pattern in your mistakes and struggles.  You have an insatiable desire to do everything right and do it right the first time around.

There’s a danger in this striving for perfection that has made your journey seem more primitive than it needs to be.  You desperately seek God’s will and His direction for your life, but you focus on the minutia of His answer.  I’ve learned over the past 25 years that God’s still small voice likes to communicate the big picture.

Maybe that mode of communication is unique to us because God knows we spend too much time fixating on details.  Regardless, after years of burdened prayers asking God to reveal His will, that still small voice led me to a verse that becomes our hearts cry over and over again.  I’d like to make you privy to this knowledge a little earlier in hopes that you can avoid some tears and confusion.

It’s quite simple, really.  There are three things that always comprise God’s will for you: joy, prayer, and gratitude.

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  {1 Thessalonians 5:16-18}

Joy, constant prayer, and giving thanks are always God’s will.  The surest way to do the right thing the first time is to be joyful in any circumstance, steep your decisions in prayer, and give praise to God for the outcome.

My dear Em, even in their simplicity, all three are difficult to do without God’s strength and grace.  You won’t always choose to be joyful or choose prayer before action or choose to give thanks.  But, devote yourself to these disciplines. Pursuing them, even when you fail, is always more fruitful than striving after your own plans and purposes.

Sincerely,

Emily

You can find all my letters here.

For more information about the 31 Day Challenge, visit The Nester.