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Scribbled Prayers

Hey, hey! It's Theology Thursday - what could possibly be more fun? This summer, I'll be looking at the topic of prayer. Read the first post in the series here: the fastest pray-er in the [mid]west and read on for this week's thoughts:

I love a good pen, great notebook and a list. I do, however, have this little tickle in my brain that says if I mess up the page with a spelling error, weirdly written "e", or wrong pen, I have to start over. Then I get stuck because if I tear the page out, the entire notebook will be ruined! The stubby remains sticking out forever, marring the pristine beauty of the 80gsm paper??

I'm being a bit dramatic, but not by much!

As I considered the topic of prayer this week, I thought of the times I walked away from prayer thinking I messed up, mis-stated a request, didn't do it right. I mentally scribble out the demanding words - what if God sees how selfish I really am? What if that was two minutes too short? What if I didn't do it as well-spoken as the person next to me? I need a do-over. I want to tear the page out and start again. Make it perfect on the off-chance this beatific prayer would convince Him to really listen.

The most clear, easy-to-explain example of this is the death of my dad. He got sick. I prayed for him to get better. I thought oh, wow, think of what a blessing it will be for him and my family to be able to have this testimony of being healed! Him being a pastor, I'd think that would be a perfect chance to help teach others about the love of God, right? I felt I was asking in faith, with faith, of faith, all the prepositions of faith, for good news, please, just some good news. Instead, each time we went to the doctor, the news got worse. I ripped out the page and started again: More faith, MORE asking. More hoping: What a beautiful testimony: Dad was sick - I prayed - God healed!

Instead my testimony is: Dad was sick - I prayed-He died!

I would be lying if I didn't say I thought often about whether I ruined that with my messed-up-the-page faith that should have been what... stronger? More hopeful? More adamant? More sinless? More... better?

Years have passed, and I have made other requests that, if written a notebook, would be a jumbled, scribbled mess. Ripped out pages, entire chunks of paper torn out. But the more I read Scriptures, and saw that the people went before God, in sickness, in health, in richness, in sin, in sadness, in depression, in all circumstances, the truth became more and more clear. It's not about me, it's about Him. I learned to go to Him, sometimes boldly, sometimes quietly, sometimes mumbling, "show me what this is because I got nothing." (I John 5:14, Psalm 19:14, Romans 8:26)

And God heard, and there were answered prayers, including when it became life and death again and I sincerely, loudly went before God and asked that He save my child and not allow death to win. He answered. And that loud YES became part of my testimony.

And I slowly learned that prayer isn't about getting it right, it's not about having enough faith to make physical things on earth happen (no matter how many people tell you this...), it's not about having to constantly reach for a new page, a fresh start, a do-over. Not about setting parameters for numbers, "if I pray for 56 minutes, and ask for only 2 things for myself, but 6 things for others, and if 46 other friends pray with me, THEN I will get the answer I want." Not about listening to another person's opinion on the definition of "enough faith" and judging you on whether you had that "enough-ness". It's about going to the Lord with faith in who He is, and belief He will answer our prayers in a manner consistent with His character and His sovereignty. It's submitting myself to His steadfast love. It's knowing if God is love, faithfulness, and wisdom, I can't out-love, out-faithful or out-wisdom Him. It's knowing the Holy Spirit will comfort and guide. It's knowing He is faithful to hear my prayers and willing to hear my requests. It's knowing He is God and I am not. It's resting in the promise He gives us that this (earthly realm) is not all there is. It's knowing He "treats us based on who He is - not based on who we are."

"Faith is essential to prayer - for faith is the recognition of, and the committal of ourselves and our matters to the faithfulness of God." - Vine's Expository Dictionary of NT Words

I leave my scribbled prayer in His hands, my messed up "e", my torn out pages. I trust His steadfast love and faithfulness.


Further Info/Scripture backup:

(quote from message by Pastor Jeff Frazier; 2 Corinthians 1:3, Matthew 6:9-13, Romans 12:12, Philippians 4:6-7, Psalm 103)

Prayer is mentioned 182 times in 174 verses in the ESV.

Synonyms include: Intercessor, advocate, plead, supplicate, please, pronounce, meet, fall upon, go pleading, press someone, ask, interrogate, consult, claim, demand, wish, beg for, request.

Job chapters 38-42 are beautiful chapters to turn to when you don't know where else to turn

Additional verses on prayer:

1 Corinthians 14:15, Ephesians 6:18, Colossians 1:3, 1:9, Jude 20

Still don't know where to start? Read through the Psalms. What do you learn about God's character? Write out your prayers to Him based on the Psalms.

Apostle Paul's prayer, which I read as an example of how we can pray for others: Ever since I first heard of your strong faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for God’s people everywhere, I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.

I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else—not only in this world but also in the world to come. God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself. Ephesians 1:15-23

Find my Spotify playlist here for Christian songs that aren't radio-pop: Non-pablum songs about God

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