Four Letter Word

We have another post from Cally!  Enjoy! 

WARNING– I am about to reveal the truth that I am not a “good’ Christian.  Please do not judge me.

Okay, here is my true confession: I don’t always like to pray.

I know that prayer is a wonderful gift from the Lord, a direct line to our creator, and something to be cherished.  I know that the Lord answers prayers and it is an amazing way to connect with the God of the universe.  I know that prayer is an important part of the Christian walk and helps us grow in our faith.  There are plenty of things I know about prayer, but actually internalizing those truths and feeling those things is a different story.

I’m hoping that I’m not the only one who feels this way, but if I am, then you can all just say a powerful prayer for me to constantly feel the joy of prayer.

Elizabeth wrote last week that when she had a “blog-freeze,” she sat in the Lord’s presence for ten minutes, and stood up feeling refreshed and revived.  Now I know that happened for Elizabeth, as she is a prayer inspiration, and so I actually tried to sit there without reading or writing or anything, and I don’t think I lasted ten seconds. 

I first tried to clear my mind and focus on the Lord, asking the Lord to help me focus on Him, and almost immediately I start running through my mental to-do list, then feel guilty and pray for focus again.  Then I start wondering how in the world I am going to get everything done, then feel guilty and start praying, only to find myself distracted again.  And I look at the clock and notice that it’s been one minute and I am nowhere near refreshed and feeling like a prayer-failure.  I hate to fail, so I just stop trying. 

 I go through a series of feelings when it comes to prayer, depending on my season in life: guilt that I am “not good at prayer,” feeling like my mental worry list will automatically transfer to Christ’s to-do list, not really thinking much about prayer, or knowing that prayer is absolutely the only way I can make it through the day and wanting to glorify the Lord through prayer. 

Amy Julia Becker (wonderful writer and speaker, and fellow Princeton grad) said a few weeks ago that there are certain times in life when prayer is too much, and you need other people to stand in the gap for you in prayer.  There are times we all face (or will face) when we really cannot handle our lives, much less pray for them, and in those times, we are called to “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).
Now, what about when we aren’t in a place of utter desperation like Amy Julia described, but we feel overstretched, overworked, overtired, and completely insufficient?  In those times, we know that the Lord can help us, but if we can’t reach that tranquil state of mind where we feel like we should be to pray, we just don’t.  I think this is such a misconception.  While it is great to sit before the Lord in peaceful prayer, it’s not a prerequisite. 

Paul Miller writes in his book, A Praying Life that, “Learning to pray doesn’t offer you a less busy life; it offers you a less busy heart.”  We don’t have to be calm and peaceful with three days set aside to sit on a mountain and pray (though that would be great).  Christ calls us to pray just as we are, and we can come to the Lord and just say his name.  This summer, I found myself simply praying, “I surrender all.”  I didn’t have to go through the details of everything happening in my life, but I surrendered them to Him, and though I still needed to take care of the busy things in life, my heart really was much more at peace. 

If you’re anything like me, sometimes finding it challenging to spend an hour (or even ten minutes) in quiet prayer or reflection, I’m pretty sure you don’t have to worry.  I think we can keep our busy lives and learn to pray through them.  If you can relate to me, I want to invite you on a little challenge: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything” (Philippians 4:6). 

I am planning to turn my worries into prayer, just as they come up, with the knowledge that Christ will take my burdens and shape my future.  I am hoping that by taking this little step in regular prayer, I will get to the place where I can “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17), and eventually “withdraw to lonely places to pray,” just like Jesus (Luke 5:16).