The bad news is I thought I was doing well. Which should have been the first sign: smugness before a fall. But I never remember that lesson so as I sat through a sermon on pray and prayer life, I was feeling good. I pray! I talk to God all the time! It’s probably more like an unending conversation than a start and finish, pretty casual and straight forward. I don’t need prayer help! I’m glad he’s preaching this sermon though, because I’m sure someone (shoots evil-eye darts at everyone I’m sitting with) needs work in this area.
It was good sermon and I felt like I should buy the recording for some friends, I was just sure they could benefit from this lesson that I half-listened to because I’m so godly that I didn’t have time for it.
Then that night I was praying with my girls before bed. Chris and I take turns putting the girls to bed and I was the “lucky” one that night. As I was praying with Ellie, suddenly I was really listening to myself and I realized I HAVE A HORRIBLE PRAYER LIFE.
No, really, I do. Even though I talk to God all the time, even though I have conversations with Him multiple times a day, it is so superficial. I spend a lot of time being thankful, thankful for this crazy-wonderful life He’s allowing me to have, thankful for my family, my husband, thankful for the roof over our heads, the food in our bellies, thankful that I was able to hit the brakes fast enough and not hit that moron. You know, just thankful. I have a very thankful heart.
I’m also good about praying for big stuff: friends that are struggling with infertility, lost jobs, and failing marriages. I’m all over praying for random heart-wrenching stories I see in the news and for students that share their hurt in their writing. But the every-day-run-of-the-mill things? Absolutely not.
Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. -Jeremiah 29:12-13
And for a while, I didn’t think that was a big deal (see the first paragraph for details). But in that moment as I’m praying with my five year old about her day and her anxieties about school, I realized that I don’t do that. Ever. I never share the day-to-day struggles, anxieties, and worries. You know why?
Because I think I’m in control and I can handle those.
Angry parent at school? I got this. Worried about money? I have solutions. Car problems? I know a guy. Relationship struggles? They’ll work out, they always do.
I’m a type-A personality to a fault: I can rock a to-do list with the best of them, organize any mess in under an hour, and plan a killer party in less than a day. I thrive on solving problems and finding creative solutions. I like a challenge. But God tells me again and again that He wants to help me with those, so they don’t worry me into a stomach ache, a bad attitude, or a fight with someone else (which they sometimes do). He wants to lessen my burdens and worries. And I’m not letting Him because that’s giving up control.
Yes, control I really don’t have, but control nonetheless.
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help and he will say: Here am I. -Isaiah 58:9
I serve and worship a God that wants to know me intimately. He wants to take care of me and love me better than any earthly thing can. (Side note: “take care of me” is not the same as “give me everything I want” just so we’re clear…) I spend a lot of time avoiding that, thinking I can do it better myself, thinking I’m pretty smart and resourceful. And then I get knocked down hard and I come crawling back to Him and He welcomes me with open arms and comforts me like no one else can.
I long to be constant in my prayer life. I long to go deeper in my relationship with Him, to be more real. He knows me anyway, but He asks that I willingly share with Him. So that’s my prayer right now, that I can make it a habit to go to Him in all things, not just the thankfulness and “big stuff.” Because I’m His daughter and to Him, it’s all big stuff.