James Stanley – Maintenance Supervisor
Almost four years ago, the separation which eventually would lead to divorce began. A perfect marriage by worldly standards was ending but a new journey was beginning. A better way to say it after a recent sermon by Cal is this: I needed to make a major course correction back to God. I allowed my drift to take my focus completely off God. Honestly, I had no idea what was going on or where I was going. It took a few months, but my heart finally broke for God and I started to pray.
Finally, I gave up control. Every morning was a new morning and instead of my feet hitting the floor when I woke, it was my knees. I still had no idea what was going on. All these years of going to church and growing up in a Christian home made me realize a few things. This prayer idea was unknown territory. I only knew the “basic” prayers. I also thought maybe I dozed off during a sermon or two and they must have been the “Prayer” sermons. I honestly do not remember anyone really teaching prayer or talking much about it. I remember prayers did happen on a regular basis: before you ate, before bed, before and after the sermon, and before giving your tithe and taking Communion.
The idea of people realizing they want to worship and call out to God starts very early on. Genesis 4:26b tells us,
“At that time people began to call on the name of the LORD.”
“Qara” is the Hebrew word used for “call” and it means much more than to simply call. It means to cry, utter a loud sound, proclaim, summon or even invite. They were not looking to pray quietly in their bedrooms or sit and wonder if God was with them. No, they cried out, they proclaimed, they invited God, as we should be doing more often in our own lives. This was where my soul finally was: I wanted to cry out. My cry was, and in reality, is still, selfish, but back then it was because of my own lack of understanding. Now I try to seek the real truth and let God convict me of my selfishness and pride in my prayers.
I believe prayer is an integral part of our being. Unfortunately for me, it is also a part which never was used or learned very well. I needed to start training and educating myself. Practice makes perfect! Well, I did get better, but as for perfection I’ll leave that one alone. As I called out to the Lord, I learned I needed to let myself become vulnerable with my Savior. As a man, being vulnerable doesn’t come easily, but God was working on my heart. He was also working on my tear ducts. Apparently He did create me with some. Many mornings my head was buried in my bed because I didn’t want to stop communing with Him so it was easier to let everything that flows out be absorbed by the blankets. Giving it all over to Him meant giving up my stoic attitude and starting to feel the emotions created within me.
As time passed my heart has slowly but perfectly been healed. I am learning to pray for other people and to be more specific in my prayers. God is showing me a new way to be relational with people and it is through prayer. Some days it may be in my own private prayer time while learning to journal my prayers. Other days it may be the mighty workings of the Holy Spirit uniting two people wandering around campus at just the right time to pray for each other. Talking with God is an integral part of us, and loving our neighbors as ourselves applies to our prayer life also.
It has not been easy or quick. I recently read Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire, by Jim Cymbala. It is challenging me on the importance of prayer and/or the lack thereof in our society and my own personal life. I am helping my daughters and trying to teach them the importance of prayer. Guiding children when you are still learning can prove to be challenging. Even more important is prayer time with your spouse. It is a necessity for a healthy Christian relationship and I would challenge the men reading this to step up and lead your wives in prayer together. This prayer idea was unknown territory for me a few years ago and it has been changing my heart, my life, my relationships, and my knees ever since.
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“Know that the LORD has set apart his faithful servant for himself; the Lord hears when I call to him.” Psalm 4:3