As a child, I remember being told how to pray and seeing the children on the Little House of the Prairie kneel down beside their beds and put their hands together and speak out to God. They would always be thankful for something that happened during their day and almost always add a request for someone else. Honestly, I can’t say that I pray like that, nor can I say that I pray as I was taught. In fact, I will never admit that I am good at praying or that I do it as often and as meaningful as I should. I will say that I often talk to God; we have conversations and I talk to him as if he was a man standing with me. Sometimes I may wish I could get those words back, other times I wonder if he heard me. I don’t speak in old tongue and fancy words for I am a mere simple man and I believe that God can understand my words not words I pretend to use.
Often you will see these people who seem to be closer to the heavens then I feel and they call out to God as if they were trying to summon his Spirit from with the furthest realm of eternity. They pray with such a mite the words echo within the walls of the church and their voices are so loud beyond calming to make one wonder if God has a difficult time hearing our prayers. These people put so much effort into their words and how they sound when they pray it makes me wonder both how they pray when they are alone and whether or not I would have to bellar out as they do for God to hear me.
Certainly, there are times when I emphasize my words when I pray, especially when my prayers are emotionally motivated, but sometimes I seems as if some of these people are just putting on a show and it feels as if their public prayers to God are more for their audience than they are for God. There is this thing I learned about testimonies which can relate to how we pray; once our testimony is no longer sharing and we start to preach it is not a testimony any more. When we start preaching in our prayers are we truly praying to God? Certainly, he has no need for us to preach to him. We should pray often and remember who we are praying to and also who those prayers are for. Most importantly, never put yourself in a position where it seems that you are closer to heaven than God where you have the ability to preach to God himself.
There are days I pray a lot and days where I forget to do it even once. I don’t like being pressured into praying or being put on the spot because it causes my mind and my words to clash and makes me feel as if I am not doing it right. There was recently a time when I felt as if my prayers were not as valuable as others who seemed closer to God because I was led to believe that my endless begging and praying were being ignored and left unanswered. When my father was dying with cancer I prayed every night and every single time I saw my dad. I would pray on the drive down and I would pray with tears on the way home. I wanted so much for God to answer my prayers and then my Dad lost his fight. I also prayed when my Uncle was sick and when my Aunt was near death and still I had unanswered prayers because they too passed on.
When my life began to become challenging and my teenage son began to become lost in the evils in this world I prayed and prayed for God to please help me save him for I surely could not lose him too. I prayed every night and every day. I prayed every time the phone rang and every time sirens filled the air. I prayed silently and I prayed aloud. There were even times when I prayed so loud the whole world could hear me. There were times when I felt so much pain that I prayed that God would come down here and explain to me why he felt that I had to suffer and why my family had to endure so much pain. Soon the pain led me to find relief and I would pray with anger and I would fill my heart with anger and this heart of mine became hardened and eventually I prayed no more because someone wasn’t listening.
My son lives yet his life had become consumed and he is a prisoner of his demons. I surely felt as if I had no power of prayer. I felt that if you needed someone to pray for you, I was not the person to ask. I felt as if I had been shunned by God, it seemed as if I did not have the right number to call at times or maybe I just did not know the language. Again, I was convinced that someone wasn’t listening. What I recently learned several angry and drunken years later, that I was right … someone was not listening. Someone was not allowing himself to listen. After all those tears and all those pleas someone just was not hearing what was being said. It was I that was deaf to the messages of the very God I cried out to. It was me who became angry and wrongfully cursed because I would not listen to his response to my own prayers. I would not let him tell me what he wanted me to know. I was so angry for so long all because I wasn’t listening enough.
I can’t say I pray any better than that little girl on the prairie, but I try to listen a little better today than I did before. I also know that sometimes we don’t always get what we pray for and that God answers us in his own way and on his time not ours. I won’t tell you that I am comfortable praying in public or that I feel any better about being put on the spot, but I have learned that the more often you do the easier it becomes and the closer to the spirit you feel. There is power in prayer, I honestly believe that because I have seen and felt it. If you are strong enough not to let the evils of this world mislead you, you will be able to hear what the Lord wants you to know and you will feel the power of prayer itself.
I have this friend who so passionate about her faith that when she talks about her beliefs you can see a glow about her and truly sense that the spirit of God is with her. The sense is so strong that I can’t help but feel as if God himself is speaking through her. I have learned to tell the difference of when she is just annoyed with me and when the spirit is guiding her. When she is passionately speaking with the spirit you can see it in her eyes and feel the power of the Lord in her words so much so that I feel as if I am beside myself and that her words are speaking directly to my soul. There is so much power in what she says I lose all ability to deny or contest her words because I know they must be true.
When this friend of mine prays, it is as if she stands up and opens the doors of heaven and speaks directly to God. She certainly does not preach in her prayers nor does she put on a show. She seems to filter out all that is around her and puts herself in a place as if it is only her and God alone. Her words are so fluent and perfectly in sync with what she wants him to know. I like to believe that when she prays in public a sense of calmness falls upon all who hears her talk to God. Oh how I wish I could pray like that and how I wish I could filter out the world and speak to the Lord without any distractions from this world. How I wish I could be so strong and passionate in my faith so that my words are not hindered and are directly guided by the spirit.
Soon … maybe soon or even someday … If I continue to pray and continue to filter out the evils of this world and become stronger in my testimony and my faith maybe I too will pray like my friend and speak with such trueness as she does. I think I know her trick with it all … she believes without reservation, she trusts in her prayer, and she speaks to God. There is power in prayer, I have felt it. I believe that if we become strong enough in our faith and keep the evil at bay we will feel stronger in our prayers. Sometimes we must remember that if we ask we will receive means not that if we ask we will get; rather it means that if we ask of the Lord we will receive a message from him if we are willing and able to listen for it. The more often we talk to God and learn to listen to him, the more often we will allow ourselves to trust in him and allow him to guide us. This will bring us closer to God and give us an understanding that the evils of this world does not want us to have.