This past Sunday at church I had prayed backstage before walking out with the rest of the choir and felt a tangible difference. I was feeling very itchy and irritated in my throat from allergies and was just not feeling myself. I started to worry that I was going to start coughing or get sick on stage and I could feel a bit of panic setting in. Everyone was praying out loud at the same time and although I don’t remember everything I said I prayed for myself and control of my allergies and body. I prayed that the people in the audience would be blessed by our worship and that seeing us on stage would help release them from holding back to receive God in a new way.
I’ve been realizing the past few weeks that besides God speaking to me in new ways this year i.e. song, dreams, my blog, nature, other people, etc. that He is challenging me in my prayer life. I think as a child growing up in church you learn to pray for everything i.e. your sick pet, your book report, that you would remember all that you studied for a test, that you would get a cool role in the school play, and on and on. Different ages produce different prayers and you trust God for different things. I don’t believe that my prayers prior to this year were unimportant but I think in the midst recently of some truly not enjoyable moments in my life you learn to pray in a different way. You learn to be thankful for an answer that isn’t there yet. You learn to pray through fear even if you aren’t calm yet. You learn to pray differently.
Romans 8 MSG: “It stands to reason, doesn’t it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he’ll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself? When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With his Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ’s!
12-14 So don’t you see that we don’t owe this old do-it-yourself life one red cent. There’s nothing in it for us, nothing at all. The best thing to do is give it a decent burial and get on with your new life. God’s Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go!
15-17 This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!
18-21 That’s why I don’t think there’s any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times. The created world itself can hardly wait for what’s coming next. Everything in creation is being more or less held back. God reins it in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead. Meanwhile, the joyful anticipation deepens.
22-25 All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.”
I love that picture. God breathing into us just like He breathed into Jesus. I like imagining the tension between our dead lives in our Earthly human bodies, and our alive spirits. Life is not always easy. There is always going to be a tug of war between our new awakened lives and our flesh/sinful bodies. It would be like an infant, limited in mobility, crying for help, but not knowing that deep within them is the ability to crawl, and then one day walk. It just needs to be awakened. It takes time. God knows what lies before but holds us back until the right time. Instead of being weighed down by the process we should be “joyfully expectant” knowing we are going to grow and grow. Just like an infant grows longer limbs and hair so will we as children of God in the spiritual sense.
The same with prayer. You are free to ask God anything but He will use the conversation to help you grow. Ephesians 3 says “God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.” It’s not to say that our prayers don’t matter but in a human way they are limited. Our brains are limited. Our perspective is limited. He will always surprise us with how he answers.
Because God is our father, He knows what we are capable of. But He is patient enough not to rush it. He doesn’t look at infant us and shake his head in disappointment because we’re newborns and can’t walk. He knows we will but it isn’t time yet. In the same way we are on our own journey and can’t compare our growth spurts to others. I am grateful for the way I’ve grown this year and for the places I will continue to need to grow in knowing I don’t need to rush. God wants to reveal Himself to me at a speed I am comfortable with and will understand. He will not sprint past me and expect me to see it all at once. He is patient with me and therefore I am patient with myself.
I pray that I continue to grow in my prayer life with Him. Not because I don’t already speak to Him about many things, but because there are always new ways I can speak to Him, trust Him, and call out His power over areas of my life that I need to walk through even though I might feel uncertain of what lies before me. Ultimately I can rest in knowing He has equipped me and will continue to strengthen me in His time, with His grace, and using His word. Thank you Father that you are a patient dad and a steady hand–ready to help me along and not to yank me along. In Your name I pray, AMEN.
“All those prayers are coming together now so you will do this well, fearless in your struggle”
– 1 timothy 1:18-20
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