I didn’t used to pray every day. Some days I would forget. In the years where I felt God had abandoned me, I didn’t pray at all.
But, in this season of life, since I committed to praying every day for specific people, I have found that it takes a very long time. Each day, I pray very nearly the same things for the same people. Sometimes I add more, and sometimes I add more people, too. The time commitment doesn’t bother me…not at all…but I guess I’m surprised at how my decision to commit more time praying for the people I care about has translated into more time I’m open to hearing God speak to me, as well.
I grew up in a Christian home, but I grew up never feeling like a “good enough” Christian. As a teenager, I felt like I didn’t read my Bible or pray enough. I felt like these were chores I needed to do—just like homework or doing the dishes—to be a good person. When I didn’t do them, I didn’t feel like a good person.
My ex-husband and I used to ask each other how did you know if you could really hear God? How did you know if something was God-directed in your life or simply very strong emotions?
As I’ve matured in my spiritual life, I’ve come to realize that the answer has always been right in front of me. God tells us to pray and read His Word, and it was only when I started doing those two things with the DESIRE to really KNOW Him that He began to speak into my life and teach me.
The words on the pages suddenly came alive and became relevant and impactful. There are moments where I’m listening to God’s Word on my Audiobible app and praying at the same time for comprehension, and He will teach me something so profound and so absolutely incredible, that I find myself often on the verge of tears because His Word touches so deeply to the core of various issues I’m dealing with.
The Bible has been relevant for centuries because God speaks to the heart of all people in all times and in all countries. It is not an ancient book full of fairy tales and fabricated stories. It is a book that offers life and hope and clarity into a world laced with confusion, doubt, and turmoil.
Something I always disliked is how what I think of as “Bible-beating Christians” would try to convert me at a gas station or on my college campus. “Do you know Jesus?” they would ask, followed by the assumption that I don’t, and then by the handing of pamphlets and a hurried attempt to convert me in the span of two minutes with some sort of hell and brimstone sales pitch of the gospel.
I’ve recently found myself in the uncomfortable situation of wanting to tell everyone I know about the beauty of God and of the ministry of Jesus Christ. It’s uncomfortable because it feels so big, I’m not really sure how to share just how much God has done in my life. I don’t feel like a great example of someone who selflessly gives to others with every waking breath. I am so often overwhelmed by my own responsibilities, I find it hard to care and give and volunteer my time for other people—even though I want to. I feel terribly inadequate in this area.
I also still feel so immature in my faith, I’m not sure how to share. If someone asks me a question, I’m almost sure I will not have an adequate answer. My only answer is God loves you, and He is infinitely good and trustworthy. His protection is perfect, although it does not always look like our human idea of protection. He is not concerned as much with our physical protection as we are; He is much more concerned with the direction of our hearts.
It’s such a crazy thing to be a spirit trapped in a physical body and dumped into a space where time only moves forward and where our time is limited, and yet the time limit is unknown. It’s just our bodies that have us stuck here thinking of what we are going to eat next and distracted by the pain or pleasure our bodies are experiencing.
As humans we are constantly searching and seeking for our purpose or for a better life. We want more and more and more. The good news is that more is already given to us. When we leave these bodies, our spirits will not be limited to a physical space and time, but instead we have the opportunity to join with God and experience Him and pleasures forevermore.
What I have found through the simple and humbling act of prayer, is that aligning my spirit to God’s and attuning my ear to His Word has shifted my perspective on what it means to be a spirit stuck inside a body on this earth. My prayer for myself is that if ever I forget this, and my attention begins again to focus on my physical limitations, that God would again fix my eyes and attention upon Him and His eternal vision for humanity.
Our purpose is not to gratify ourselves during our short time here on Earth, but to seek to glorify Him who made us, and through this perspective shift, we glorify Him by loving our neighbors, by praying for our enemies, by having patience for our spouses, forgiving those who betray us, and putting others before ourselves. It is through the hands of His children, that we can demonstrate God’s glory here on Earth and make our short time here worthwhile.
I am so thankful that God loves us and desires to be close to us for all eternity. Remember this Valentine’s Day that God loves you more than any person could, and His love never fails!
“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your Salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit.”