Have you ever felt overwhelmed by the magnitude of people and things that you have to pray for? Felt like there were just not enough hours in the day to spend interceding with the Creator for the people and situations that come to mind when you begin your conversation with God? I have. I sat in silence for half of my evening commute, just talking to God about one situation in particular that I have been asking for guidance, because I just feel like I am missing something – a lesson, something that I should be praying for and am not, something that maybe I should be doing for someone. Or simply not praying enough. And, to be honest, I am still puzzled. But I am also still asking.
But, in the midst of my query with a seemingly silent Creator, I thought about all the people who I care for that, if I took the time to, I would be interceding ad infinitum for them. I recently finished reading Mark Batterson’s book, The Circle Maker, and I have learned a lot about prayer, the nature of prayer, the power of prayer, and the reality of prayer. It has alleviated some of my frustration and encouraged me a ton. Many see prayer as a discipline; others view it as a conversation. The truth is, it is both. Prayer is the practice of engaging in a continuous conversation with the Creator. As Tony Evans describes it, prayer is our way of inviting God into history, giving Him full access and entry to influence history in and through us. The most important and encouraging thing that I have learned about prayer is that our prayers never die. Prayers don’t have an expiration date. So, while it matters to some degree that we pray in the moment that God brings someone or something to our mind, it is also important to remember that, because prayers don’t expire, every time you pray specifically, those prayers accumulate. Think of it as putting money in the bank. Every prayer you breathe in conversation with the Creator is an investment in the lives of the people you pray for. And God honors persistence! But, remember to always check your motives. You can pray all day long for something and it not come to pass because you weren’t praying with the right motivation.
[James 4:3 NLT] And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong–you want only what will give you pleasure.
The other thing that I learned about prayer is that, even when I am at a loss for words, the Holy Spirit is right there with me, interpreting and interceding for me.
Romans 8:26-28 (The Message) Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked out into something good.
I love the way the Message interprets that passage. It paints such an amazing picture of how the Holy Spirit “carries the conversation,” so to speak, when we run out of things to say to God, or we really can’t find the words to articulate what we are feeling in the moment. But that is the way He helps us. And because, “He knows us better than we know ourselves,” we can be sure that He can understand the burdens of our hearts and souls. So, what is the bottom line here?
I don’t want prayer to seem like this “pie in the sky” effort from us to God to try to get His attention. We already have His attention because we are His beloved children, and He is sitting, waiting expectantly for us to reach out to Him, to communicate transparently about the things that He knows are on our hearts. Jesus died on the cross in order for us to have a direct line of communication to God the Father. And then He included a Helper for when we are experiencing challenges communicating. I find that to be very comforting.
So, let the conversation begin. It doesn’t have to be eloquent or perfect or elaborate.it just needs to be honest and come from a pure heart, a heart that desires the right things. I promise you this – the more you talk to Him, the easier it gets, and the more you will come to know the sound of His voice. It won’t matter where you are or what you are doing. You will know when He is speaking to you, because the lines of communication will already be open and flowing. You should even expect a response! That’s the way a conversation works. And, eventually, it will become an ongoing conversation, and you will look forward to His response. Just try it and see.
[Psalm 34:8 ESV] Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!