(Heads up. This is a long post.)
Prayer is not a way of making use of God prayer in a way of offering ourselves to God in order that He should be able to make use of us. It may be that one of our great faults in prayer is that we talk too much and listen too little. When prayer is at its highest we wait in silence for God’s voice to us. We linger in His presence for His peace and His power to flow over us and around us. We lean back in His everlasting arms and feel the serenity of perfect security in Him. William Barclay
I hope this post lands on ears that need encouragement. That would be those of you that are tired of praying, and tired of hoping.
We know what the Bible says about doing good; we’re never supposed to get tired of it. Right? But we do.
I want to tell you a story. If you read my posts from the last two weeks, you know that we have a young house guest who is struggling with depression. Medication has been prescribed and it is making a difference.
We have prayed for her and her family for years. Let me repeat, for years.
I’ve been so discouraged I haven’t even wanted to pray some days. It was starting to feel hopeless.
I’ve chastised myself, convinced that there was something wrong with me which was why my prayers weren’t answered. (I’m sure there were some things getting in the way, areas that needed some fine-tuning. To quote the much quoted jargon “Life is a journey, not a destination.”)
Anyway, moving on with my story………………………………………………………………….. I was really feeling stressed because of the circumstances that brought her to our home. I woke up one morning with a heavy, heavy feeling in my chest.
My blog often focuses around mental illness, especially depression. I have lots and lots of posts devoted to this subject. I know how depression feels. I know when it’s rearing its ugly head. I’ve been exhausted these past couple of weeks and when I woke up that morning, I was scared because I know that exhaustion is often a trigger for me.
I was really worried that my depression was returning for the first time in years. I spent considerable time in bible study and prayer and this time my prayers centered on me. After that, I kept myself occupied. I exercised. I worked on my kitchen table some more. (I’m painting it with white chalk paint.) I cleaned out some closets, etc. All the things I know to do if I think depression is looming.
I woke up feeling so much better. I spent time with God as usual and while reading in the book of Mark was struck with how physically tired Jesus was at times. I felt a great kinship.
This has been a long, long journey.
Now here’s the exciting news that I’m hoping will encourage you.
Our house guest is at her own home now. She called to say she had two interviews this week for a job. (She’s trying to earn some money before she heads off to college.) She sounded better than I’ve heard her in years. Her medication is working and she able to think once again. Our brains are physically affected when we’re depressed and we simply cannot think as we should. Medication can help remove brain “fog”.
But here’s the best part. This is a young woman who’s been very upset and disillusioned with her family. She’s been with us because she didn’t want to be with them. Much of this is from her perspective, not necessarily reality. So as we’re talking she said, “I gotta’ go. I’m having dinner with my family.” (I’m tearing up even as I write this.) Hearing her say that and hearing the love in her voice for her family is what we’ve been waiting to hear.
I went to our bedroom and immediately thanked God for what seems to be the beginning of good things for her.
Do you know what it feels like to see your prayers finally being answered after years of praying? I know many of you do.
But I also know that many of you are where I’ve been and where I will be again, wondering if my prayers are ever going to be answered.
Prayer has been my main focus of study for years now.
I have many books I recommend listed under “Books I recommend” 🙂 in my Header Menu.
But I thought I’d list my favorite authors for you below just in case you can’t wait.
- Dallas Willard, Hearing God
- Dutch Skeets, Intercessory Prayer
- E. M. Bounds, E.M. Bounds on Prayer
- Andrew Murray, With Christ in the School of Prayer
- Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline,
- Phillip Yancey, Prayer
- Priscilla Shirer, Discerning the Voice of God
- Joyce Meyer, Simple Prayer
- Bill Hybells, Too Busy Not To Pray
I should warn you that the first four books are difficult. I’ve read Hearing God a number of times and I’m still trying to figure out a couple of areas. I’ve said “ouch” more than a few times when some truth has hit home.
Here’s my quick take-away:
- God always answers prayer-always, always, always, always. And no, it isn’t the glib, “Yes”, “No”, or “Maybe”. My impression is that God Himself is always a “Yes”, but that “Yes”, may not be when or what we expect. But that doesn’t make it a ‘no” or a “maybe”.
- Our prayer life (which is our “inner” life) depends on our “outer” life,
How we live matters.
(If that were not true, the Ten Commandments wouldn’t matter nor would the teachings of Jesus, both of which instruct us how we are to live.
We must pray in faith believing. What does that mean anyway? This one has taken me a long time to get mostly right. (Remember, I was getting pretty discouraged quite recently myself.) Finally, I realized that praying in faith means believing the very first point I made. It doesn’t mean things will go my way. It means I have to believe that my prayers will result in things going God’s way. That ‘s the hard part, isn’t it?
After all, we want our prayers to be answered the way we’ve prayed them because we honestly believe we are praying for the right things.
Seriously. Think about it. Would you knowingly pray for the “wrong” things?
- When we want to give up, we mustn’t. This is the time we examine our lives to see if there is something in our life getting in the way of our prayers being answered. We ask ourselves some hard questions, like “Am I praying with the right motives?” Frankly, sometimes I’m not.
- Finally, prayer is never over. It’s doesn’t end with an “Amen”. In fact that’s where real praying begins. When we go out into the world to live the life we’ve been praying about.
I know there are some very discouraged people out there in “blogland”. I read your posts. Lots of times I visit blogs that I don’t necessarily follow and that I don’t necessarily comment on so I know sincere believers in Christ struggle just as non-believers do. Sometimes maybe more so, because we live and walk between heaven and earth.
I hope this post has brought you some hope. I know that there will probably me some “detours” for the young woman I mentioned earlier. I will probably have questions in the future again because that’s my personality. But I’ll let you in on something.
Sometimes when I’m discouraged I pray this prayer,
“God, I’m not expecting a miracle today. I know some things take time. I’m OK with that. But I just need a little encouragement, a “thumb’s up ” or a little ray of hope. It doesn’t have to be much, just something that encourages me to keep on keeping on.”
I want you to know that every time, every time, God has met that need. I recognize the signs because I’ve prayed for them and my senses are on high alert.
Anyway, I trust you are feeling encouraged. That was my hope.
God bless and I hope you have a good day.