This week has been rough, to put it simply. And it's only Wednesday...
I tend to be my Father's stubborn child. I tense up when things don't go my way, get angry, throw a spiritual/emotional temper tantrum, only to eventually relax in His arms and follow His guidance. I don't know why I make it so difficult, but I'm thankful my Father is stern and patient with me.
The weeks before this were focused on prayer. The challenge to pray kept popping up everywhere I went. Passages. Sermons. Teachers. Lectures. Books. Blogs. Friends. Even people around me have pointed out how much prayer has been coming up within the past few weeks.
He was showing me this whole aspect of trusting Him wildly, praying in faith, finding security in Him, absorbing His heart and praying confidently as His daughter and co-heir with Jesus. I had lots and lots of questions, and still do for the most part, but I've learned a few things within the past month or so.
Firstly, I've learned that prayer is one of the most neglected aspects of my relationship with Jesus. I'm sure you can relate. It's easy to let prayer time dwindle or to sleep later than normal. It's difficult to make an exerted effort to clear our minds and focus our heart on communicating with Jesus. Life can be frustrating, and busy, and often self-centered. I know this. I battle with it. I'm sure we all do. We so quickly neglect prayer. Why though? What is the heart of the issue? I think we've categorised prayer as another spiritual practise that we must do to be the ideal Christian. It's just another check box we've added to our list. Our motives have changed. Our understanding has vanished. Our hearts have lost sight of the gift of prayer, and the beautiful Father who gives it to us.
Secondly, knowing our Father's heart is crucial to our prayer lives. Why do we pray? Why do we lay ourselves before this Jesus? Why should we speak to Him about everything? Because He is our loving, compassionate Father. He desires to hear from us. He wants us to experience the joy of His presence. And we learn about who exactly He is so that we can pray accordingly.
I've been having a really difficult week. I knew I needed to sit and just talking to Him about it all, but I was upset and angry and confused. Then my lack of desire sent me into a fit of self-condemnation. How could I not pray? Why didn't I force myself? I had lost focus of who He was, and concentrated on myself.
Carey e-mailed me this earlier today, and my eyes welled up with tears. It was from a letter she had written to me 3 years ago after we had a terrible fight. If you know the story behind this, you know how much love is found in these words.
"I love you and Ernie loves you. Immensely. We CHOSE you. We still choose you. As much as your words hurt me, I still love you. I love you unconditionally."
And that is exactly what our Heavenly Father wants us to understand. He wants us to be wrapped up in His embrace and to hear His voice assuring us, "I chose you. I love you unconditionally. Immensely."
We add prayer to our never-ending list of things we must do to be worthy of Him. We struggle to be obedient. We've lost sight of our Father's heart. We've lost sight of the character of God.
We need a change of heart. A fresh understanding. A heavenly outlook.
We pray because we understand that this God has a passionate and holy love for us. He chose us. We are His dearly loved children. We pray because He is our Abba who wants to give us good gifts that are found within His will. He wants to align our hearts to His and change our desires so they are satisfactory and fulfilling in all that He is for us. He wants us to bring our requests and prayers and praise before Him regularly, laying everything we are before Him, and trust Him to be God in our lives. He wants us to have the freedom and confidence to address Him as Dad, and to be transparent with Him, acknowledging Him hourly, begging for His guidance. This is the heart of prayer.
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. Ephesians 6:18
In that day you will ask the Father in My (Jesus) name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. No, the Father Himself loves you because you have loved Me and have believed that I came from God. John 16:16-17
*God has been showing me SO much about prayer within the past few weeks, and this is simply my little compilation of what I really saw Him repeating. I don't know everything about prayer, and I know some who are very opinionated about this topic (that is all a part of studying theology at a seminary). BUT I do believe these two points are simple. We've lost the focus of prayer, and we don't know our Father's heart like we should. Those two things influence our prayer lives tremendously. I feel God is calling us to come back to the heart of it all. Falling in love with Him. Wanting to spend time with Him. Wanting to know Him deeper than we already do.
I'm praying that we would fall in love with Him and consciously seek Him and draw near to Him through prayer. That... "prayer would become as beautifully unconscious as breathing, an ongoing thread of conversation. It is the expression of a life that says: I am so known by this God-Man that all I want to do is be with Him."