Is there one area you feel like you have totally failed as a parent, wife, friend or Jesus Follower? Prayer is one of those areas for me. I lose focus. I forget. I get busy. I remember to pray for a few weeks only to abandon it again for a while. There are full days that go by that I have not prayed for my kids! Or my husband or even myself! That’s an embarrassing confession! Most days my prayers are one sentence as I breeze through some errand or drive the kids to school. These aren’t bad. I think God quite understands and hears these prayers as well as the longer ones. I totally believe that God hears the very short one word prayers of moms with very young children! Most often mine was “Help!”
So what am I trying to say here? I think it’s more a state of my attitude than the length of prayer. Secondly, it’s an area God is challenging me to step up. The topic is on my heart and brain and is coming up in the occasional conversation as well.
As kids get older, problems become more complex. Children strive for independence and there are so many choices for them out in this crazy world, some good and some bad, that it’s quite scary. I feel scared as a parent. Each of our children have strengths and weaknesses that we’d like to see embraced and enhanced or dealt with and overcome. Does praying wave a magic wand? I wish. It is considered a discipline after all.
I have wondered why is it so important that I pray for my family and friends, if there is no guarantee for a good outcome. If God already has a plan for their lives and I believe He does, why bother to pray? These two questions have bothered me for many years.
These are the answers that God has taught me over the last few years as I’ve studied and read. It’s an ongoing lesson so don’t think I have all the answers. I do not – not by a long shot!
1. Prayer becomes more like a two way communication link the more I learn about God. The more I know about Him, the more real and personable He becomes to me. It really is just like getting to know a new friend. You have to find out what He’s like and the main source is His Word. He tells us all about Himself right there.
2. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. It’s as simple as that. I’m just learning this lesson mid-life! I’m not a boat-rocker. I get seasick. I’m learning that sometimes it’s worth the discomfort. And so it is with prayer. Ask. God tells us to ask in Matthew 7:7 “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.” I don’t want to come to the end of my life and hear, “If you’d only asked…” I’m going to ask for wisdom, love, and patience in abundance! I’m going to ask for guidance and discernment and anything else that will make me a better mom, wife and person. I’m going to keep putting my requests and dreams before God even if the answers aren’t necessarily what I want to hear at the moment.
3. Praying gives the control back to God. Oh I’d like to think I was in control! That I can control my children and their choices but the truth is, I AM NOT and I CAN NOT! But God does and he can direct their paths. In letting go, I am letting go of my pride. I read somewhere that in letting go of control, you are letting God be God instead of you trying to be God. It’s about humility and trusting that God knows best.
I have started to move on this urging to pray for my family. There are a few resources I use to help me stay focused. The books, The Power of a Praying Parent and The Power of a Praying Wife, by Stormie Omartian are really good and give me the words to pray when I can’t find the right ones, which as I start out is most days. I also pray passages of scriptures. Ephesians 3:14-21 is a great one. I insert the boys names in where it’s suitable. It doesn’t matter how small we start, it just matters that we start to make this a habit that eventually we can’t live without.
Anyone else out there struggling with their prayer lives? What do you do to keep up this particular discipline?