Week after week, Mass after Mass, for way too many years, I thought I was doing God a favor.
In that quiet space that follows the pastor's weekly directive, We now pray for our own intentions, time and again, I intentionally gave God my silence and seriously thought I was helping him out.
For years I was certain this was the right thing to do. I was sure that millions on earth had intentions that were far more urgent than anything I could come up with, and wouldn't it be selfish of me to add my thoughts and requests to the mix?
How many millions need to pray every Sunday for their loved ones to beat cancer? How many need to pray for the most essential things, like enough food to feed the family, a big enough paycheck to cover the rent? Millions, no doubt, but not me.
My silence, my withholding prayer, was what God would appreciate. Less work for him, right? (That is how downright confused I was about how He worked.)
You, my blog-reading friends, are undoubtedly more spiritually mature than I, and you wouldn't make such an amateur mistake. However, tell me this: Has there ever been a time when you stopped praying? Maybe when the kids were young or the job was crazy you had trouble finding time for prayer. Or maybe your felt your prayers were going unanswered, so you stopped talking to God? Or perhaps there is a special person in your life -- a friend/neighbor/daughter -- who is hurting and who does not pray and you feel it deep in your bones that she would feel SO much better if she did talk to God?
Would you like to know what broke my silence -- what got me praying regularly, not only in church but in the car, in the kitchen (and yes, in the shower)?
It was what author Lisa Brenninkmeyer wrote in Lesson 4 of Opening Your Heart, the WWP foundational Bible Study. Lesson 4 is titled, “Why and How Should I Pray?” When I reviewed this lesson with my Opening Your Heart study group last fall, I highlighted two things, and for me to swipe yellow ink across a book page is a big deal, because I love books and I cringe a little when I have to deface one with a pen or pencil.
Here's what I highlighted:
“When children ask for what they need, they ask big. They ask with boldness. God wants our prayers to be filled with the faith that believes the impossible can happen, because when we tame them we are saying that God isn't all that powerful, or that He doesn't really care about our dreams and our needs...”
“Your prayers are evidence of your confidence in God.”1
That was it. For me, it was the green light to go ahead and start talking to Him. It was the affirmation to pray for anything, anytime; to trust it was someone else's job to guide me because I am really not the one in the driver's seat on my life's journey. And now I chat with Him all the time, and now I believe that He doesn't mind my chatter at all. And while I have yet to ask for or receive any sort of miracle, what I have received is something that I can only describe as an invisible blanket -- a blanket that is really thick and warm and even though you can't see it, it's always on my shoulders.
PS: I'm thinking many of you have also experienced the foundational WWP Bible study, Opening Your Heart, but what about that friend/neighbor/daughter who, like me, needs to know the basics? Who could benefit from a closer relationship with God? Feel free to share this blog post with her.
Blessings and Peace,
Learn more about Opening Your Heart here!
1 Lisa Brenninkmeyer, Opening Your Heart (2010-2018), p. 45