3 Things to Know When Praying

I’ve been focusing a lot on the future in my previous posts because I know a lot of you are going through tough times, re-evaluating life stages, or simply trying to figure out what to do next.

I like the be vulnerable in this blog because I empathize with you. Although I am a mere 25 years old, I’ve been through a lot in life; whether that be choosing a direction after college, trying to navigate through relationships that could or could not end in marriage, or struggling through the reality that life isn’t exactly going as planned!

Throughout the past couple weeks, it has come to my attention that prayer has a lot more power than we think. Check out what Google’s Dictionary says about it!

prayer
/prer/
noun

noun: prayer; plural noun: prayers

– a solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God or an object of worship.

– a religious service, especially a regular one, at which people gather in order to pray together

There are two things that really popped out to me when I saw this: the fact that Google defines prayer as “a solemn request for help or expression of thanks“, and “a religious service, especially a regular one“.

Prayer is beautiful not only because it’s the way we can directly communicate with God. It’s also moldable: it can fit the situation, and it appears in all kinds of forms! Like Google says, it can be a request for help or an expression of thanks.

Isn’t it cool that we don’t have to come to God with only one type of prayer? We can be really excited when something finally goes right and thank Him! Or, when we are terrified, we can beg for strength and help during hard times.

Like I said before, the past couple weeks have really opened my eyes to the power of prayer. Through this, I noticed three things we need to make sure we understand in order to grow in our faith through this act of worship.

1. We Need to Give Up Wishful Thinking.

Before I first started incorporating prayer into my daily routine, I was only praying when I was wishing something would happen. My desperation was only directed at God because I knew it was what I needed to do, not what I wanted to do.

Instead of trusting in God’s plan for my life and faithfully asking Him, my “prayers” were more like please, please, please!!  I sounded like a kid in a store begging for the newest toy or a sweet treat.

I was focused on the reward, not the reason.  My mind was saying Man I wish I had that! Oh wait! Maybe I can just ask Mommy or Daddy and they’ll say yes! instead of Hey Mommy! Can I have that? It’s cool if not, because I know you have something better, but I’d still really like it!

To reiterate, it is totally okay to want things out of life. It’s okay to ask God to give them to you; that’s what He wants us to do! However, we need to be careful of our motives. If all we have is “wishful thinking”, it won’t get us anywhere. We need to have faith.

2. Our Faith Can’t Be Rooted in Our Small Understanding of A “Good God.”

I know that sounds controversial, but hear me out.

We will never be able to fully understand the Goodness of our Father. He is the literal definition of Goodness because He created it in the Garden of Eden!

Therefore, because of this, our understanding is a little shallow. We can see it through the things He does in our lives, but that’s not the full view.  It’s only partial:

“For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”

1 Corinthians 13:12 (NIV)

Therefore, it’s not okay for us to pray with the mindset that if God is really that Good, He will answer my prayers. I know this is good for me, so He must want it for me too!

My vulnerability in this statement is I am still tempted to think this every. single. day.  And it sucks!

It’s so easy for us to fall into this trap because of our simple understanding of who God is. His view of our lives is from afar because He sees everything: from our birth, to us growing up, to our death. He knows exactly what decisions will lead us in right or wrong directions, and He always pushes us towards the path of life.

That may be hard and include some significant pain, but it’s ultimately good for us.

It makes us stronger.

It grows our faith in Him as He shows His presence through that pain.

And He makes Himself more known to us every step of the way.

So when we pray, we shouldn’t be assuming He’s just going to do something for us because it’s what we want.  If I had gotten everything I wanted because of how “good” I thought it was for me, I would be in a very different place in my life! Can we at least all agree on that when we look at our own lives?

3. We Need to Understand That God’s Goodness NEVER Changes.

I think we all, at least on some level, understand that God is Good. That will look different to all of us simply because we come from varying backgrounds and experiences.

Unfortunately, however, that’s not really what I’m saying.

I’m saying that even when that grade comes back as an F, He is still Good.

Even when that pregnancy test is negative and you’ve been trying for months or even years to conceive, He is still Good.

Even when your significant other, friend or family member dies suddenly and you don’t understand why, He is still Good.

Even when you get laid of from what you thought was your dream job, He is still Good.

Even when your dreams get shattered before your very eyes, He is still Good.

Nothing can erase God’s goodness. No circumstance can deter God from loving you any less.

Even when you don’t believe He is Good, He is still Good.

Friends, be encouraged in this! Sometimes we don’t get what we want, but it’s because something even better is right around the corner.

I wanted to marry past boyfriends, but God knew I was going to be with Joe forever.  Sure, it hurt like heck during every breakup!  But now, looking back, I understand that God allowed all that to happen because He had something better for me in store.

Whatever you’re going through, keep your head up.  Know that it’s okay to be in pain because you’re not alone.

No, seriously. What you’re going through? You’re not the only one:

“No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.”

1 Corinthians 10:13 (MSG)

God will never let you down. He will always be there to help you through it.

Faith and prayer can be a beautiful thing. Practice it today.

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