Prayer journals, prayer walls, prayer closets…
I tried to “get better” at praying for years, but I felt anything but joy whenever I actually thought about praying. Again and again, a wave of guilt would hit me, and I would end up focusing on myself – that I should pray more, that I should get back to that prayer journal, that I should finally make that Pinterest-worthy prayer wall. It stressed me out and took my focus entirely off of the real purpose of prayer. Rather than a delight, I viewed prayer as something I just needed to “get better at.” And though I believe we should all pray more, I don’t think it’s supposed to be a burden or just another thing to check off on our to-do lists. If you feel like you should be praying more, but it feels like a chore, I have some encouragement for you.
Talking to God: Everywhere, All the Time
You’ve probably heard that you can pray anywhere, anytime. But how often do you actually take advantage of that freedom? How often do you cry out to God when you’re having a bad day? How often do you cry out to God when you “feel fat”? How often do you cry out to God when you know you’re supposed to get up but the snooze button seems much more appealing?
If we, as Christians, have surrendered our entire lives to God, we get to involve Him in every area of our lives – and that’s a blessing! We get to live for Him every moment, and talk to Him about everything, mundane or spiritual.
Challenge: Put down your phone or laptop right now (yes, right now) and tell God how your day is going so far. Has it been a good day? Tell Him about what you’re happy about and thank Him for it. Has it been a bad day? Tell Him what’s on your mind and ask Him what He wants you to learn from the difficult things. Don’t worry about time – just try talking to Him. The more you cultivate a relationship with God, the more you will find joy in spending time with Him.
Learning about God’s Character (and Laughing with Him)
I think one of the coolest things I’ve discovered about God lately is His incredible sense of humor. Have you ever thought that God is the one who made your funny friends, every joke on earth, and laughter? Have you ever thought He sometimes does things to make you laugh and see you smile? You laugh with your friends, but have you ever laughed with God?
One time, my older brother prayed that it would rain for our swim meet. He wanted it to be cancelled, but he forgot to add an important detail. You see, our coaches only cancel swim meets if there is lightning. So, that swim meet was very wet, but there was no lightning and it wasn’t cancelled. God answered His prayer exactly and it actually was pretty funny how it turned out – my brother learned to be much more specific in his prayers after that.
As another example, I’ve prayed many times that God would give me humility. Sometimes He answers very quickly and faithfully, and the results can be quite hilarious. Sometimes I’ll do something really dumb or will have something embarrassing happen to me only minutes after asking for humility. I found that if I appreciate God’s sense of humor and laugh with Him, it builds my love for Him and makes me smile at the same time.
Challenge: The next time something hilarious happens to you or a friend, share it with God and then laugh with Him. This might seem odd to you, but this is one of the joys of prayer. The more we actually let God into every area of our lives – the physical, the academic, the emotional, the funny parts of life etc. – the more we establish a relationship with Him. The greatest joy of eternal life in Heaven is that we get to be with God forever – that’s how amazing He is! If we really believe that He is as good as the Bible says He is, shouldn’t we be excited about knowing Him? Shouldn’t we be excited to get to know our Creator? Prayer is not a burden from God but a joy!!
Savior and Creator: the Mystery of God
As you read this, you might be thinking something like, “Yeah, Rachel, this sounds great and all, but God isn’t another teenage girl. He’s my Creator! I can’t just talk to Him like that. Isn’t that just disrespectful?”
If you’re thinking that, you’re on to something amazing about God’s character. One of the biggest mysteries of God is that He is infinite and personal at the same time. And our prayers should reflect both sides of that. He is our Creator, so we worship Him and praise Him for His greatness. And He is also our Savior and Friend, so we share our lives and laughter with Him. He deserves all our respect and obedience but also all our love and trust. We must “work out [our] salvation with fear and trembling” but also “boldly approach the throne of grace” (Philippians 2:12; Hebrews 4:16).
Challenge: Read Psalm 24 and Psalm 23 and reflect on the different tones in the two chapters (Hint: one reflects on His character as our Creator and the other as our Shepherd).
What’s the Point?
When we pray we are admitting that we need God and are reminding ourselves we can’t do this life on our own. Prayer is a gift from God, and through it we get to cultivate a joy-filled relationship with our Creator and Savior. And if you don’t feel like praying? That’s something you can talk to God about too.
Don’t obsess over a method; don’t worry about time. Those things have their place, but always be sure you don’t miss God in your prayer life.
So just start praying, friend. God loves you and can’t wait to hear from you.
Have you ever looked at prayer as a joy?