Earnest prayer

Hi! It’s been a while. We traveled to the East Coast in the middle of October and, predictably, both kids got sick during/after travel and things have taken a while to settle back into a routine. I finally feel like I’m back to normal and can sit down to write.

Before I get down to business, I have a couple of housekeeping items:

  • I’ve been thinking about adding some diversified content to the blog for a while. So while my main focus will still be what God is doing, I’m plan to post twice weekly; the main content remaining God and his sanctifying work in my life, and the second weekly post will be a recipe or creative kid project or something similar that falls into the broad category of homemaking. These things are tangentially related to the most important thing, but they’re still a part of this new life I’m living.
  • To that end, I have a new Instagram account for the blog which you can view in the sidebar of my blog or by going directly to the account on Instagram (kat.maybe_). The Instagram account will largely serve the “Homemaking, Maybe,” posts.

And now, a return to our regularly-scheduled programming!

I’ve been thinking a lot about how I pray recently. As I mentioned, I re-arranged my day to make prayer and Bible reading a priority. It’s… well, let’s say it’s working in fits and starts. But as to the prayer part, I’ve been trying to write down the things I pray about daily. I don’t write out the whole prayer, but I’ve started taking notes under broad categories of the prayer:

  • praising God by naming His attributes,
  • asking for His will to be done in situations that are on my mind,
  • asking him for my “daily bread” needs, asking for forgiveness for sins, and
  • asking for deliverance from the evils I face.

This model (introduced to me by our pastor and modeled after the Lord’s Prayer) is super helpful for being consistent in things I should always be praying for (my children, for instance). But it does kind of lend itself to getting stale with prayers. A few times, particularly for the things I pray about every day, I feel like I’m reciting my multiplication tables to God rather than bringing him the earnest pleadings of my heart.

I’ve particularly felt this way when I’ve been praying about a conflict I’ve had. The issue is not really resolved, and bitterness started to set in. I had incredibly ungracious thoughts about this situation and the parties involved. Recognizing that I was totally powerless to stop this calcification of my heart on my own, I started to pray daily. I honestly didn’t feel like praying about it. It even took me a few days to add it to my daily list of things to pray over. The advice C.S. Lewis gives on this topic was really what kept me going:

“Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.”

So pray I did. Weeks went by with me praying the same thing, over and over, not really liking praying about it. And then, one day, God answered the prayer. The issue is still not resolved (which is mostly what I expected) but one day while I was acting as though I loved my neighbor, I just felt a change in my heart. It wasn’t a dramatic change, and there is definitely still work to be done through prayer and practicing love, but it felt like a page turned.

Last week in Bible Study Fellowship, we were in Acts 12. Peter and James are imprisoned, and James is murdered by Herod Agrippa. Things are looking rather bleak for Peter, and “earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church.” (Acts 12:5, emphasis mine) Peter goes on to be miraculously delivered by an angel from prison. The church was so surprised when he returned to them that they thought he was a ghost.

Reflecting on all this, I didn’t feels my prayers over this situation were particularly in earnest. But, I was also reminded of what Paul says in Romans:

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. – Romans 8:26-27

How encouraging it is to know that the Holy Spirit is always working in the prayers of a believer, making us obedient and helping us to pray in earnest even if we don’t feel in earnest. What a joy to be able to pray and rest in the knowledge that our prayers are perfected, heard, and will be answered.

Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. (1 Thessalonians 16-17) Amen!