Sunday, September 08, 2013

Afraid to pray?

The title of my post sounds crazy right? Afraid to pray? I mean why would anyone be afraid to come before their beloved Lord and savior and offer up a prayer. Prayer, real prayer, not just a prayer that is written down and you recite-though there are times when that is all the ounce of strength one emotionally has to do-is in fact one of the scariest things that I personally do.

Scary? Why? Because its the one time, sometimes multiple times, a day that I am truly my full self. I tend not to hide things from God. I figure that he already knows it anyways so I may as well just say it. I fully trust that if any of my "real" fleshly prayers cross the line that my God is fully capable of rebuking my heart and changing it. So prayer can be a scary thing for me to do sometimes. 1. Because there are times during my prayers where I realize how selfish of a human being that I really am which in all honesty I would often rather try to ignore and 2. Because God always seem to answer them.

The first of those 2 reasons seem to be a good the sense that whenever I pray and realize how selfish my human heart really is it brings me further more to the cross. It truly makes me grasp and cling to Jesus even more because in those moments of prayer when the spirit has rebuked me for a selfish attitude I realize how much I have to depend on Jesus all the more for there to be any good that comes out of me. It humbles me, it makes all the verses in the bible that talk about Christ amazing work on the cross mean all that much more to me. Those selfish "real" fleshy prayers change me for the better not because I was real but because I came before my God,  the all powerful, HOLY God, and in doing so opened myself to the Spirit working in my heart. My "real" fleshy prayers also allow me to, at times, experience real comfort by HIS spirit. I wouldn't change any of the "real" fleshy prayers I have had with my God, and Savior because when I look back and remember them and at times see how sinful my heart is I am always left amazed by HIS grace even more. Being vulnerable, even to a God that has proven his love for me by the sacrifice of his son on the cross, and the resurrection of his son, is still scary.

The 2nd of those 2reasons seems like it wouldn't be scary at all. I mean who doesn't love a God that answers their prayers? For me it's scary. I have prayed and asked God for things that he has given me an resounded "No" for and left me wrestling with my faith as a result. I have also prayed for things that God has answered with an resounding "YES" that have left me sometimes prideful that I happened "to get it right" that time. I have also prayed for things that God has answered with a "YES" that humble me because I realize how undeserving I am to have even been given a small role in His kingdom work. And then I have  prayed prayers where I am not quite sure at the moment why I am even praying for it, why its even on my mind at all, and chuck it up to my nerves, to have later discovered that the thing I prayed for specifically happened for or to someone that I love, those prayers humble me.. All of them humble me even my "self righteous pat on the back afterwards" prayers humble me because that specific prayers remind me of God's grace when I definitely don't deserve it. 

So if the ultimate end result seems to be that prayer brings me to a closer, more deeper relationship with God, as well as is used to sanctify me and change me more into the image of Christ, as well as is used to further God's kingdom work in the lives of others....why do I avoid it at times? Truthfully because I'm sinful.There is something about sin that even after we have come to know Christ as our savior that still tempts us. It's like the old ratty sweatshirt you have hanging in your closet that you refuse to throw away because of its familiarity and the odd, weird, false sense of security that it gives to you. Honestly, my fleshy self wants to hold onto it, my fleshy self likes to be deceived into thinking that I am perfect that there isn't any area I could possibly become more like Christ in. My fleshy self still tries to take me away from my God and doesn't desire him.

I'll give you a few examples of my fleshy self and show you just how imperfect I really am. Sometimes I don't pray for you because I think that the thing you want prayer for shouldn't be answered in a way that benefits you. I at times think that I know more than God and what you should learn before God pours His blessings on you.  Sometimes I don't pray because my heart is tired and weary of seeing God do big and mighty things in your life , using my prayers to help accomplish them, and in my life I struggle to see those same mighty workings. So in other words I don't pray for you because I'm jealous that God isn't doing the same stuff in my life. Sometimes I don't pray for you even when the spirit is prompting me because I just don't want to do it. I may be bitter or angry at you. I may feel like you don't deserve my prayers. That people is how selfish I really truly am.

Be encouraged though because of Christ in me even the times that I don't want to pray for you I usually do because of the Spirit's working and leading in my heart. I can't ignore it even if I want to. If i try to ignore the spirit, it's like a strong tummy ache that just doesn't go away or 1st trimester nausea that doesn't end until you reach another point of pregnancy, or for some, birth. Maybe that doesn't encourage you and I've just showed you how horrible rotten person I truly am. I don't think that is necessarily a bad thing, I don't want anyone to look at me and say "oh you're amazing, you're wonderful, you're so special." Because I really am not, it's Christ, its really all the good things you see about me is Christ and his amazing work in my life.

So why am i afraid to pray. I think it can be broken down in this way. I like the way I am, I really don't want to go through any more growing pains and feel as though I have experienced enough, I don't really want to see God do amazing things in the lives of others during times when I feel like crap and like I'm being ignored by him (so not true just a feeling). There is a part of me that would rather have the false security of a ragged old dirty sweater, than the true warmth a fully in tacked sweater can give. And prayer my friends is one of the avenues that God uses to give us that warm sweater (figuratively speaking of course) it changes us.

Thankfully there is more to me than just my sinful side and the Holy Spirit is at work in my heart and life. I am thankful that God doesn't even let ourselves keep him from fulfilling his ultimate plan for our life. He doesn't let ourselves, keep him from spreading his glory. So tonight I am doing the scary work of praying for you. But be encouraged I'm not praying that God won't give you something (unless it's something that would really really be bad for you). Nor am I hoping to rub the genie the right way to get him to answer my prayer with a yes for you. but I'm truly, with the Spirit guiding my prayer praying that God will glorify himself in your life.

For my dear friends who have lost job security, I'm praying that God will glorify himself in your life, that he will give you a new job, that he will show you His mighty provision once more, that he will honestly truly AMAZE you and leave you flabbergasted by his love. For my dear friends planting churches nationally and internationally, I am praying that God will give you strength to persevere through the hurdles, encouragement to stand when you want to fall, hope that this work is not in vain but that He will be glorified through it all.For my friends in the midst of adoption processes and or raising an adopted child. I am praying that God will give you a strength and peace that will get you through sleepless nights, arguments, questions of doubt as well as I am praying that God will surround you with encouragement, love and support from others. For my dear friends like myself that at times feel like God is ignoring your cries while answering others, that are tired of being told "No" and are waiting for the "yes." that are weary, weak, and pray prayers that they read out of a book, bible, or journal. I am praying that the God of all comfort will comfort you through others that he has given the same comfort to. I am praying that you will continue to fight the good fight, that you won't give into your sinful side, that you will not grow callous to the "tummy aches", and "1st trimester nausea" that eats at you until you come to the Lord in prayer.  I am praying for all of us that we won't be content with the person we are today that we will always be seeking to become more like Christ and opened to the change that He is working in us.

I am afraid to pray but I am afraid more that if I don't pray I will surely miss out on a vital aspect of growing closer to my Lord.

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