Carol Brennan King
Some thoughts that came to me in church: about prayer:
Would you want to talk about someone about your prayer life? Well, sometimes I get excited about what I am learning, and I want to talk to people about it, to see if everybody else already knew this. Or maybe to have someone tell me that I might be a little off track, that I need to think it through some more.
Well, here’s honesty. I have been praying for the last sixty-five years; it has been that long since I have been expressing my own thoughts to God. And now I think I am coming onto something new. New for me, probably not for you.
Recently, I posted the following paragraph on facebook because it struck me about how much of my prayer life had been spent trying to remember everything on my prayer list.
Prayer is not a list or the time to tell God what you need Him to do. I think a big part of it is being still and allowing the Holy Spirit time and place to bring things to your mind…like how very much God loves you and wants to sit with you, the way you want to sit with the one you love.
Part of what brought me to that thought is because during these last two years, my prayer list had exploded: people fighting covid, people with family members or friends in hospital with covid, or dying with covid, people losing their jobs because of covid, people struggling with loneliness and grief. Then there’s all the other issues we pray for: the widows, orphans, the poor, those in authority over you, missionaries, the pastor. Well, you get the picture. Probably a lot like yours.
I felt the needs of people around me with such urgency that I realized I might be turning my prayer time into a to-do list for God.
So I tried to fix that, turning my prayer time into a time of thanksgiving, every day trying to think of all the things for which I could thank God. Needless to say, that list got kind of repetitive because every day I wanted to thank God again for my husband, for my children because I know it is a privilege to have them, for God’s love, for what happened at Calvary, for my godly friends, for what I was learning as I read my Bible, for the way God was meeting my needs, physical, emotional, spiritual, even intellectuals…another list.
This morning in church after our first time or prayer, I found myself writing this on my bulletin:
Voice your intentions in prayer. Wait, will you be more likely to follow through on your end of the request if you asked for help, if you put it in God’s hands. Something like this: “God will you help me to tell my neighbor about you?”
Then if you don’t do it, tell your neighbor about Christ, and you don’t follow through on your end of the request, it becomes God’s fault. He didn’t help you.
Or maybe you don’t think that way. But I sort of have.
Then it came to me that I have a writing coach, and on Mondays I have to turn in a list of five goals that I want to accomplish in the next five days. On Friday, I have to turn in an accountability report. You know what I have discovered? I do a lot more work when I have to tell someone what I did.
Bizarre isn’t it. That accountability list reminds me of what I want or plan to do. I work hard, rearrangling my schedule, so I can accomplish those things because I will be facing my mentor. At the week’s end, I know what I have done to get my work done. I will know how much I am at fault, and yes, I also know a couple of other things.
- I know if I overplanned on writing projects and did not recognize the rest of my life and what I must do as part of a family. Then, I must admit my failure to get through my list was my own fault.
- I also know that maybe I made up other excuses for not getting my work done, like I just didn’t feel like it, or I put it off just too long. My fault, not God’s.
The issue is when we are accountable to someone, we are more likely to do it, most anything. Maybe, I thought this morning, I shouldn’t be all the time asking God to help me, but run my requests through what I know God wants me to do.
If what I want to do is not sin, if it pleases God (and we generally know that pretty quickly), if I have what it takes to do this thing – even if I will have to work hard at it, then telling Him that I want to do is like having an accountability partner, not someone to blame when I don’t do the follow through.
I am not sure that this shortens my prayer time, but it does change it. That takes me to another thing I posted recently: Did you ever notice that the longer you pray, the less you want to leave that place of intimacy at the feet of the Father?
That works if you choose or make time to just be still, to shed all of those distractions that fight for attention in your head (sometimes it helps if you just write them down on a piece of paper so you can get back to them later). Then you just start talking with God, this person who loves you more than anyone else who ever exists now or has existed.
I need to stop. This has gone on long enough. But I just thought if God wanted me to write this down, then maybe someone else might be able to relate.
I’d love to hear what you think.
Matthew 6:6 ESV But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
P.S. You can pray lots of other places too.