Updated: Sep 2, 2022
There we were, my family buckled in and en route on our flight to our family vacation, excited for some unplugged time together and eager anticipation of adventures. I pulled out a new prayer devotional I’d recently picked up, “A Diary of Private Prayer” by John Baillie, and settled into the pages (I highly recommend if you're looking for a great prayer devotional!). After a few minutes, my four-year-old son Hayes glanced up from the picture he was coloring and pointed at my book with a curious look.
"What’s that book?" Hayes curiously asked, leaning over onto my shoulder.
"It’s a book about praying", I answered, turning the pages slightly so he could peek.
“Oh, well, I know how to pray; I just talk to God in heaven about everything. That’s it, Mommy. That’s what you do."
Satisfied and confident in his answer, he smiled at me and turned his attention back to his artwork. He made it sound so simple; in the heart of a child, there is nothing complicated about praying to God. I thought of how often I’ve heard so many adults, myself included at times, feel like their prayer life is on the struggle bus. Do any of these sound familiar?
I don’t know what to pray about or even where to begin?
I could never pray out loud; I don’t know what to say.
Do I need to say the perfect, flowery “God-approved” words?
I haven’t prayed in so long (or ever); would it even matter if I started now?
Prayer changes everything.
Perhaps, one of the most cherished tools in my “faith toolkit” has been becoming more comfortable praying with purpose, surrounding myself with others who won’t hesitate to pray over or alongside me, and mentors who challenge me to prioritize prayer. It is our most intimate and direct connection with God, and how often are our expectations for what prayer should be” creating barriers in a more profound connection?
As I turned over the simple observation from my son, I thought how incredible it would be if we all viewed prayer in the same way. If we just talked to God. That’s it. If we spoke with Him about any and everything, without hesitation and without a checklist to follow to ensure it was perfect. Like a child, what if we just said what was on our hearts and invited God into every aspect of our lives – the way our children desire attention & engagement from us as their parents, God desires the same, pursuing our hearts and an intimate relationship with us.
When I look at Hayes, there isn’t a part of his life that I don’t want to be included. I want to celebrate his joy & achievements, and dig deep into the tough lessons. I want to persevere through life’s tests and comfort in the sadness & sorrow; I want to be present for him. Knowing how much I love my son, I trust and know God’s love for each of us is intimately more. The desires of my heart for my child surely must also be desires of God for all of His children in ways we cannot even imagine.
I wanted to share some powerful scripture on what the bible says about prayer:
God is always listening
“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” 1 John 5:14
God desires we pray about everything
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God.” Philippians 4: 6-7
We can speak to God intimately; it does not have to be for show or inauthentic. He does not require us to use perfect words or eloquent speech.We are ENOUGH.
But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” Matthew 6:6-8
Go to the Lord, seek him in your prayers in all things
“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Of if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Luke 11:9-13
What are you holding back from in your prayer life?
Let’s start inviting God in
Let’s start praying imperfectly
Let’s get rid of expectations we hold, coming to God instead in a raw & honest way
Let’s pray on purpose, for a purpose