A little about me before we begin…from birth through leaving home after college, my Dad was a pastor. Today he and my Mom are missionaries. I was in church the Sunday after I was born and probably haven’t missed more than a handful of Sundays since. When we went on vacations, we found a church to attend. If there was no church, we had our own service together as a family. I grew up praying at meals and before bedtime as early as I could talk. I have no memory of not having an understanding of prayer as a primary way to talk to God. I grew up in Sunday School and going to youth groups and camps and retreats. I went to a Christian university and got a degree in ministry with a minor in Bible. I’ve been in ministry and working within the church, teaching others from the Bible for twenty-five years.
I am telling you these things, not as personal trophies that make me any better than the next person because they really aren’t. I am extremely grateful for my parents and for my upbringing, but they don’t score me any extra brownie points with God. I’m telling you these things because I want you to understand that I have a lifetime familiarity with God, with church, and with the Bible…AND I am still learning to pray.
Here is some of what I am learning as I read through my notes from “The Circle Maker” by Mark Batterson.
- I am learning that too often, I approach prayer with a fear of being selfish, so I don’t ask for anything. This leads to disappointment when I don’t see answers to prayers that I never prayed.
- I am learning that my biggest shortcoming in prayer is low expectations. I believe God can do anything. I trust that God has my best interest at heart. I just don’t have confidence that what I am praying for fits into those categories; therefore, in the interest of learning to be content, I don’t expect anything that I pray for.
- I am learning that I use the phrase, “if it be your will” at the end of my prayers, less as a submission to God’s will and more as a profession of doubt.
- I am learning that I am a lazy prayer…I pray often…but more like someone who pops a few M&M’s into their mouth and then claims that they are eating. I need to sit down to the dinner table of prayer regularly and focus on what God has put on my heart.
- I am learning that dreams and prayer need to be tied together. Big dreams and big prayers honor God because they represent things for which I can take ZERO credit.
I have the privilege of coming alongside people in their spiritual journeys regularly who express to me an embarrassment about not knowing how to pray or feeling like they don’t have all of this figured out quite yet. So here is one last thing that I am learning over and over…
- Our relationship with God is a journey and quite often I find myself having to double back to the beginning to re-learn something that I thought I understood…and that is good…and that is healthy. Don’t ever let that embarrass you. It’s all a part of the process God uses in our lives for learning and growth. We are in this together!