I’ve been thinking about prayer a lot. This morning, I came into my office to begin working and I saw my grandmother’s bible on its stand. It’s just there, reminding me of a long history of Jesus-lovers. It’s one thing my family does right.
The Bible was open to Psalm 86. It’s a prayer of David.
Now, David was a man who I can relate to. He was chosen by God to do some big things. He was anointed to be king and then left where he was. He had several brothers who were preferred by their father over him. They probably teased him, tussled with him, and hung out with him. But, he was the little guy. They went to war and he went to the field.
Then he was chosen to defeat a giant, garnering the jealousy and anger of King Saul. Then he was on the run because Saul was too jealous and angry. Saul tried to kill him.
He finally became king. He danced in the street in celebration to God and then his wife was embarrassed because of it. Then he saw a woman, lust got the better of him, and he committed adultery with her. She got pregnant and David killer her husband. Then the baby died.
But, God still loved him. He was counted righteous in God’s eyes.
I can relate to most of that. I’m not a king, but I’ve been chosen for a purpose. I suffered in life, been chosen last. I’ve loved and lost and made many mistakes. I bet you have too. But God still counts us as righteous because of Jesus.
Anyway, I read the lines and wanted to share them with you.
“Bow down thine ear, O lord, hear me: for I am poor and needy. Preserve my soul; for I am holy: O thou my God, save thy servant that trusteth in thee. Be merciful until me, O Lord: For I cry unto thee daily.”
I’ve been in this situation. I’m praying this every day. “Hear me, my God. Turn, listen. I’m suffering. Save me. Help me.” If the prayer is not for me, it’s for those around me who I see suffer day in and day out.
But, David knew a secret. He knew that our perspective changes when we worship. His words turn to praise and faith. “For thou art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous mercy unto all them that call upon thee.” Maybe this is why God chose him to be king. He knew God’s mercy even in his suffering.
We know God is good. But, we don’t always understand what he is doing. We can’t see the larger picture. We don’t get his timing.
David follows with a request- “Teach me thy way, O Lord; I will walk in thy truth: unite my heart to fear thy name. I will praise thee, O Lord my God with all my heart: and I will glorify thy name for ever-more. For great is thy mercy toward me: and thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell.”
Sometimes this is what we need. To really just tell God where we’re at and how we feel. I believe that is what prayer should be. David kept his reverence for the God of the universe while still bearing his soul to him. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather just be with God and have him on my team. It’s way better than him being some unfeeling, remote, vending machine.
I think prayer makes everything better. David shows us how to do it. He says – God pay attention, do you hear me? You’re wonderful and you’ve saved me before. Do it again, God. You’re amazing, teach me, lead me.”
So, maybe you think it’s weird to ask help or instruction from a guy in the sky. Maybe you think God doesn’t exist. Maybe you do think God exists but you don’t know how to pray. Maybe you think God hasn’t done anything for you before and you don’t think he hears when you pray. Maybe you just don’t know what to say. Maybe you think it’s pointless.
Alright…here’s my response to those things. At first it is a little weird. I mean how do you actually know it’s God? How do we actually know when he responds? I only know when God is answering because I’ve built a relationship with him over the past eight years. I began by talking to God. I think I just told him how I felt, when I felt it. I just told him that I was nervous when I was nervous, or that I was afraid when I was afraid. When I was sad or angry about something going on in my life, I just told him that too.
My early conversations went something like: “I’m mad at you. How could you let this thing happen? What am I going to do now?” I didn’t get a cartoon booming voice from the sky in response. But, most of the time something changed in me or my reaction or the situation. Sometimes nothing happened and the situation resolved – good or bad the situation ended.
A few years ago I began to write down my prayers. Then I wrote down the devotions that would seem to address my prayers. I took my book with me to church and wrote down the things from the sermon that spoke to me too. I would write down the Bible verses that seemed to speak into my situation that I came across on the internet, devotions, books, pastors, or other people. Once I wrote it down, it seemed like everything would point to that situation. I’d review it and the sum of the items I wrote down always seemed to lead in a specific direction.
Over the last two years, I have a separate prayer notebook. In this, I write down the prayers that other people have asked me to pray about so that I don’t forget them. I write down the things I see in the world I want God to address or fix. (pandemic anyone?) I write down my personal things I want God to work into. Then I pray during my time alone with God.
Sometimes, I have to pray in public with a group. I pray just like God is standing right in front of us. I’m just talking to my friend and other people can hear. I give a thank you for whatever comes to mind, I ask for help, I ask for peace. I do that because God is the giver of all things and I like it that he’s given me the thing. I believe that help comes from God and the things that he has put into place on my behalf. I believe peace comes directly from God.
Overall, why pray? Why should you do it? It’s how I put down my anxiety, fear, nervousness, and negative emotions. It’s how I tap into all the good things that are possible in life. It’s how I build a relationship – I mean can we really become best friends with a person we never talk to? I don’t think it’s possible. It’s how I do better, get better, and live better.
How do you start? Just say ‘hey God…” and say what’s on your mind. How do you pray, formal or informal? Leave a comment below to join the conversation.
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