For the past couple weeks, the church I attend has been talking about taking the next step. Specifically, the past two weeks have concentrated on prayer as the next step with God.
I’ve been in a season of life where prayer just isn’t what it used to be for me. Prayer is difficult at times and I feel like I’m doing a lot more talking and a lot less listening.
It’s okay. I know better. In fact, I remember some of the things that I said about prayer in the past in sermons.
- Nothing of eternal importance happens apart from prayer. (I borrowed that from a seminary professor and have owned the truth in that statement.)
- Prayer is a conversation with God. A conversation implies that both parties are talking and listening.
- Jesus taught us to pray when he gave us the “Lord’s Prayer.” That’s our name for it. I’ve always wondered what Jesus called it.
- Pray for your enemies and those who hurt you. Honestly, this one is beyond difficult. It’s easy to pray “about” someone. It’s much harder to pray “for.” Adam Hamilton, pastor of the Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas, says it is this prayer that changes our hearts toward those who hurt us.
- Praying in the ACTS model. Use whatever words you choose, but it is, generally, something along the lines of Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication.
I know all of that in my head, but, sometimes, it is difficult to translate that into prayer. And, in the end, it is my failure in prayer that keeps me from experiencing the God who never fails in prayer.
At church this past Sunday, I listened to members of the church share their testimonies of how prayer had changed their lives. There’s something about listening to a story that includes a “before, “a prayer to God” and an “after.” It gives us the chance to listen to what someone else has gone through and say, “Me too!”
Maybe it’s in talking about prayer and thinking about prayer that I experience the Holy Spirit. God’s Spirit was certainly upon those testimonies and the prayers that had been a part of them.
At the end of the service, we had a chance to pray, if we chose, with those who had shared their testimonies. I asked someone to pray for me and the anger I still feel and the anger that still affects the way I see God, life, etc. And I asked for healing within me that will help me to heal relationships with others.
As he put his hands on my shoulders and prayed, I felt something. It was a stirring, a movement within my heart. Maybe it’s one of those moments that John Wesley would describe as having a heart that was strangely warmed.
I realized that I needed to change the way that I pray.
I’ve started working through Kyle Idleman’s book, AHA, and it opens with memorizing a verse from Psalms, but using it as our prayer. That verse, from Psalm 119:18 says, “Open my eyes so that I may see wonderful things in Your law.”
It struck me as I was driving home from work that I had missed something in that verse. It’s what I encountered yesterday.
The prayer is about opening our eyes. There’s something that’s implied. It means that God is already at work, already doing things and already helping to answer the prayers that I had been praying all of this time.
So, today, I’ve changed my prayers and I’m asking for something like this:
- God, open my eyes so that I can see how to be a better Child of God, husband, father, son, friend, etc.
- God, open my eyes so that I can see myself the way that you see me. That’s a glimpse behind the depression, anxiety, doubt, pain, grief, shame, guilt, low self worth, etc.
- God, open my eyes so that I can see the way that you are working around me.
- God, open my eyes so that I can see the ways you are helping me to answer that call you placed on my life. (I had two more opportunities today to listen to others share their journey to belief in God.)
I invite you to pray that prayer with me. Be warned, however, that prayer is a serious and unpredictable thing. It’s a simple and honest prayer.
Dear God, Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law. In Jesus’ name, Amen. (From Psalm 119:18, NIV)
I’m thankful that I had the chance to experience the Holy Spirit in authentic Christian worship with real stories of God hitting the reset button in life.
It’a all about prayer.
“Never stop praying, especially for others. Always pray by the power of the Spirit. Stay alert and keep praying for God’s people.” (Ephesians 6:18, CEV)
If you want to take the next step in faith, you have to be able to see where to put your foot. I’m praying for open eyes. Would you care to join me in that prayer?
ReigniteMyStory.com is based on the idea that every life story can be reignited when we reset it, renew it and redeem it. You can contact me with ideas, questions or suggestions at firstname.lastname@example.org or by following me on Twitter at @reignitemystory.