Prayer – raw and honest

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Around 4:30 am, I awakened from a dream about my late wife, a poignant one about a road trip we took 4 months before she died. As is my custom, my waking moments were turned to God in prayer, but coming after that dream, my prayers were emotional, angry even. “God, where were you when cancer showed up? What good can possibly be found in this ongoing grief I feel?” In a few moments, I found myself thanking Him for her eternal life, moving to a better frame of mind as I prayed for His strength for the day, that His love and grace would show through me.

Prayer need not always be high praise. Sometimes it is a raw, honest overflow of our innermost struggles. The best prayer is a conversation with our Father that engages Him where we are and allows Him to move us to where He desires us to be. Paul urges us to “Pray without ceasing!”  (1 Thess. 5.17) That does not mean we go to live in some holy place or that we recite The Lord’s Prayer endlessly.  Ceaseless prayer is a way of life, constant contact with our God. IF we only allow ourselves to pray nice prayers we will not keep lines of communication open. Our heart will chill towards Him, reverting to formal, heartless prayers only on special occasions.

Those with whom we are closest in life are given the privilege of seeing as we are. We will risk a disagreement with someone that we love because we trust that love to keep the relationship strong, in spite of differences. So, if we really love the Lord, we will live openly before Him – our sorrow, our joy, our hopes, our failures, our celebrations – all shared with Him in prayer.

I have counseled many about getting through those times of life when we are angry at God, when we do not want to talk to Him.
How do we move beyond that kind of anger?

Use the words of another!
When words fail me, I turn to the Psalms to pray some of David’s rich words. I sometimes borrow a song. Recently the ancient words of the hymn – “Be Thou My Vision” have been part of my prayers.

Let others pray for you!
Oh, I hope you have advocates on whom you can call for prayer. Hearing the voices of others lifted to God on your behalf is a blessed thing.

Pray simply, using a single phrase!
“Lord, have mercy.” “Let Your kingdom come.” “Holy Spirit, come.” “Jesus!” God can fill in the gaps when our hearts are unable to shape our thoughts into long prayers.

Let the Spirit lead!
The Word gives this promise of His Advocacy on our behalf.  “The Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.” (Romans 8:26-27, NLT)  There is a time when we pray best by being silent: our hands and heart open to Him, listening, waiting, presented in adoration of His Holy Presence.

Prayer is not an option.  When we pray, we open up our lives to the power of God and, in ways that defy our understanding,  we become co-laborers in His work of building His Kingdom here on earth.
Pray first, not last.
Pray often, not seldom.
Pray boldly, not tentatively.
Pray “faith-fully,” knowing that He is faithful, even when you cannot discern His ways or hear His voice.

Here’s the word from the Word. “But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you.  Hear my prayer, O LORD, listen to my cry for help; be not deaf to my weeping.  For I dwell with you as an alien, a stranger, as all my fathers were.” (Psalm 39:12, NIV) “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” (Psalm 56:8, NLT)

“I will fulfill my vows to you, O God, and will offer a sacrifice of thanks for your help. For you have rescued me from death; you have kept my feet from slipping. So now I can walk in your presence, O God, in your life-giving light.” (Psalm 56:12-13, NLT)

_________

Lord I Need You
(Pray along with Matt Maher at this link)

Lord, I come, I confess;
Bowing here, I find my rest,
And without You I fall apart.
You’re the one that guides my heart. 

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You.
Ev’ry hour I need You.
My one defense, my righteousness,
Oh God, how I need You.

 Where sin runs deep, Your grace is more.
Where grace is found is where You are.
And where You are, Lord, I am free,
Holiness is Christ in me.
Where You are Lord, I am free,
Holiness is Christ in me.

 So teach my song to rise to You,
When temptation comes my way.
And when I cannot stand I’ll fall on You,
Jesus, You’re my hope and stay.
And when I cannot stand I’ll fall on You,
Jesus, You’re my hope and stay.

Christy Nockels | Daniel Carson | Jesse Reeves | Kristian Stanfill | Matt Maher
© 2011 sixsteps Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing) Sweater Weather Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)

CCLI License # 810055

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