Prayer To Change

Prayer Warrior. Do you know one? I know several. Unfortunately those words don’t describe me. I’d like to change that.

Prayer is a discipline that has never been a strength of mine. It should be as important as talking to our family or friends. It’s not. At least for me.

I get bored easily and sometimes the thought of praying turns me off. It’s something I have, in the past, dreaded rather than looked forward to.

I think my problem is two-fold. First; I haven’t been very disciplined about it. Second; I’ve looked at it as too much of a discipline.

Yeah you read that right. I think my problem with prayer lies in who I think I’m praying to. My thinking has been all wrong. It’s been about me rather than Him. It’s been about performance rather than relationship. It’s been about one more To Do or get punished, rather than about grace and love.

Sometimes I treat God as my personal Genie in a Bottle.

That’s not I AM. Almighty God. Heavenly Father. I find I don’t know God, like I should after all this time. Instead I find I easily believe in the lies that the enemy whispers in my ear. I’m not okay with that anymore.

As I mentioned in my previous blog, we’ve been reading Craig Groeschel’s book, Daily Power. I mentioned about picking just one discipline to work on this year to get you where you want to be by December.

You’ve guessed by now, I chose prayer. I believe prayer leads the way to change because it takes you into the presence of God. Real prayer is letting go of the Genie factor, and surrendering to Him. In letting go of my lies and preconceived notions, I can begin to get to know God in a personal way. Communication is the best way to get to know someone, right? That’s where I want to be in December. I knew I needed some help in getting started.

A series of events, led to me the book, The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson. It has changed my thinking about prayer and how I pray. It has also challenged my lack of faith and frankly, my whining.

I recently read these words in The Circle Maker:

”…the will of God doesn’t get easier. The will of God gets harder. Here’s why: the harder it gets, the harder you have to pray.
God will keep putting you in situations that stretch your faith, and as your faith stretches, so do your dreams…And it won’t get easier; it’ll get harder. It won’t get less complicated; it’ll get more complicated. But complications are evidence of God’s blessing. And if it’s from God, then it’s a holy complication.” (p.111, The Circle Maker)

Ironically, this was encouraging to me. Why? We don’t need more complications, right? Shouldn’t God be making our lives more easy?

If that’s the case, I’m doing something drastically wrong. How about you? The more I obey God, the more complicated life gets. So Batterson’s words make a lot of sense and comfort me. I’m not going crazy. We think when things go awry or get complicated, we’ve done something wrong, right? But if we are following God’s will, the complications are holy and viewing them in that perspective changes everything. Maybe we are doing something right.

Up to now, this is where I usually give up. But Batterson says this is where you have to dig in.

“This is where many of us get stuck spiritually. We’re willing to pray right up to the point of discomfort, but no further. We’re willing to pray right up t the point of inconvenience, but no further. Praying hard is uncomfortable and inconvenient, but that is when you know you’re getting close to a miracle!” (p. 112, The Circle Maker)

One of the things that always put me off prayer was it was inconvenient. I didn’t want to get up earlier to pray. I didn’t want to stop and take time out of my day to pray. My agenda was too busy. My pride said I was more important. I didn’t really trust that prayer was going to do anything because I didn’t trust God.

I was having trouble praying because I was still working under the idea I had to earn everything, including answers to prayer. I knew I was a mess so why would He answer? I didn’t trust Him because I really didn’t know Him. Not like a daughter. Not like a friend. Or heir.

This is where I want to be, come December. Daughter, friend, heir. Making time to speak to God is key to getting there. It’s baby steps but already shifts are happening. That’s the power of prayer and I hope to not only discover that power but know deeply the one who wields it.

 

How to Get to December’s Destination

I didn’t set out this year to have a resolution or Word for the year. Like I said in an earlier post, I would rather a map. Surprisingly that desired map has morphed from the devotional book, Daily Power by Craig Groeschel.

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In the devotional for January 2, Groeschel writes, “One small decision today could have a big impact on tomorrow.” He encourages the reader to pick one discipline to work on this year. Something that will deepen our relationship with Christ, which ultimately puts us exactly where God desires.

Disciplines. Ugh. Can’t say I have a stellar record in that department lately. But Groeschel makes it sound simple which is good. Simple is about all I can manage right now. He says to pick one. I could pick several that need work but as Groeschel is firm on this, I pick only one.

January 2nd’s devotional was also a reminder that our decisions today, both good and bad, affect our tomorrows.

It’s a subject he touches on throughout the month of January. He writes on January 27th, “I’m a firm believer that the actions you take today sow the seeds of your future. Your daily habits will create a cumulative impact on what you do tomorrow, next week, and next year.”

As I read that, I realize how lazy I’ve gotten. I’ve let go of some good daily habits, some I had cultivated for years. At the present, I’m like a leaf in the wind, going wherever the wind blows. I don’t think it matters what I do, so why bother? Groeschel says just the opposite. He’s saying change is possible, one small habit or decision at a time. If I want to change then I need to look to my destination instead of my past. I may have to start making good decision to get me there. A map of sorts.

This came up the other day in conversation. Someone told me that a task they had to do “didn’t matter.” It wasn’t important in their minds. I thought about that and put it up against what I had been reading in Groeschel’s book.

I disagreed. Everything we do, it matters. Even the little inconsequential things. It may not be the task itself, but the attitude behind it. That smile at a stranger may be the only positive interaction they have that day. The course we thought was a waste of time, opened up a door to something else we loved. We just never know and so to some extent, yes, it matters. The key is looking at the bigger picture. Does our decision, our attitude get us closer to our purpose, our goal to be transformed?

What do we have to do to get to the place where God will work in our lives? Where do I want to be, come December?

It’s not a striving, or chasing either. A list of “To Do’s” that’s going to put me on the good girl list. This is having a living, breathing relationship with God.

Where I want to be in December is not where I am standing right now. So I will work on that one discipline, starting with those small daily habits that may seem mundane but pack a lot of punch when added up. I will use this not-what-I-was-expecting map to help me get to December’s destination.

How ‘bout you? Where do you want to be come December and how will you get there?