It was my morning prayer-walk, but I ended up mostly walking.
I couldn’t bring myself to pray.
It wasn’t like there was any hidden sin (that I know of, anyway) stifling my ability to call out to the Father in heaven. I don’t know what it was but, I. JUST. DIDN’T. FEEL. LIKE. PRAYING!
When I got back home, I couldn’t shake off the question: “Why did I just walk for almost 2 miles and not utter a single word to God in prayer?”
Providentially, God was in a talking mood because my question was answered right away as several insights occurred* immediately to me.
1. I WANT TO BE GOD.
Of course, you would never actually hear ME utter those words, but my thoughts and actions often betray ME. When I pray, it feels like I am surrendering MY feelings, MY desires, MY thoughts and MY plans to SOMEONE else!
I like being in charge!!
And I especially like being the LORD of MY life.
I would prefer to work out all my issues and flesh out all my plans myself, then bring it to God for His blessing and His ....sigh... approval.
I hate to admit it, but it's evident that I am vying for the position of God in my life, hence my prayer life is taking a beating!
2. I DON’T LIKE EXPOSING MY INNER LIFE.
Prayer requires me to admit things about me that only me knows about.
Though I’m fairly well put together on the exterior, the real me living inside me has some ugliness to him that I don’t like confronting. In prayer, however, I’m forced to reveal that nasty dude to God.
But I don't want to. I’d prefer that “nasty-me” remain hidden, which of course makes it hard to be honest and real before God (who, by the way, perceives my thoughts from afar and knows what I'm going to say before a word is even on my tongue).
So. That's. Just. Greeeaattt!
3. GOD MAY SAY SOMETHING I DON’T LIKE
Over the years, I’ve cultivated an honest relationship with the Holy Spirit so that HE often feels super-free to speak incisively into my life. On good days, He reminds me of the Father's love for me and His good purposes for my life.
On tougher days, however, HE is madd-specific about areas in my life God wants me to surrender to Him.
Experience has proven that those instructions are good and healthy for my life, but it often means I have to give up stuff I like.
I like my stuff!!
4. I DON’T KNOW IF I’M PRAYING THE “RIGHT THINGS”
There are so many things I want in life.
I want my neighbors in Netcong to come to know Jesus as the Lord of their lives. I want a 50" 4K Ultra HD TV. I want to be a godly pastor uncompromising in preaching Biblical truth, but I secretly also want to someday direct movies. It’s my heart’s desire and life ambition to raise up a generation of prayer warriors who will intercede on behalf of the nations, but quite frankly, I also want someone to give me some free money so I can go on a cruise to Bahamas. You see my dilemma??
I often question my true motives when I pray, even when what I am verbalizing sounds uber-spiritual. (Remember, I know the real-ME).
5. I’M STILL A LITTLE MAD BECAUSE I DIDN’T GET THE LAST “STUFF” I ASKED GOD FOR
Contrary to what you may be thinking, the “last stuff” I asked for wasn’t even selfish in nature. The unanswered items include the salvation of family members who still haven’t come to Christ; friends in the hospital I prayed would be healed but died, (and yes, also a few personal me-focused requests that have not yet come to pass).
I’m mostly mad because I know God owns earth. He actually owns a whole lot more than that, but let’s stick to our blue ball for now. Everything in it is sustained by His will. The very air we breathe is a gift from Him, not to mention the countless blessings that come our way; so it irks me a bit that the stuff I petitioned Him for haven’t been approved.
So there you have it.
Remember I said God was in a talking mood?
Well, a sixth insight “occurred”* to me. It was simple, but profound, and it amounted to this: “Hey Shegz, I know you don’t feel like praying to Me. So how about you share with Me those things you just thought through. That’ll give us something to chat about till you come up with something to pray about.”
So that’s just what I did. My complaints became my prayer.
- I admitted to God that I have an ongoing tendency to want to be God over my life and that I didn’t like surrendering ownership. Reflecting on it as I prayed, I told Him I was sorry about my attitude.
- I admitted that I didn’t like exposing my inner life (ironically, I ended up spilling the beans about nasty-me while I was explaining in prayer that I didn’t want to open up).
- I admitted that I was sometimes fearful of what His will might be because it may prove to be more than I was willing to pay; yet I found my heart softened enough to admit that His track record in my life proved that He had always been faithful to me and always lovingly walked with me through even the most difficult seasons.
- There was some irony in admitting to Him that I wasn’t sure if I was praying the “right things” because none of my prayer points necessarily qualified as the “right things” one would say in prayer. This was actually a lighthearted moment because it dawned on me that God was more interested in just having me commune with Him than He was about me saying what I considered to be the “right things.
SELAH* - “Oh that I may have power, together with all God’s people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,”
By the time I arrived at my fifth complaint, I was so overwhelmed with God’s love for me, and His mercy and grace in light of my doubting heart that I was easily able to put aside my concerns of past-unanswered “stuff.”
The moral of the story here is this: prayer to God is only hard if we make it so. Even when we don’t know what to pray or how to pray, God the Father welcomes our heartfelt complaints (ever read David’s words in the Psalms when he was having a bad day?).
So, struggling to pray lately?
How about you just be straight-up honest with God about why you’ve tuned Him out.
God’s a Big Boy; there’s nothing you can say that will shock Him, or that He hasn’t heard before!
May the words of the author of Hebrews 4:16 come become your present reality; “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
** “Occurred” is another way of saying God impressed an idea on my heart (it’s a little less weird than saying, “God spoke to me”).
* Selah means: pause to carefully weigh the meaning of what has just been said, lifting up our hearts in praise to God for His great truths.
Husband. Dad. Pastor. Nigerian American. Storyteller. Aspiring Prayer Warrior. Steak Lover. Follower of Jesus Christ reminding you that God the Father still loves you.