It was late Thursday night and I was laying wide awake in my hotel room in North Carolina. I was trying to process all of the information that I had received that day at the She Speaks conference put on by Proverbs 31 Ministries. It was a real blessing for me to be there. However, I was feeling overwhelmed and out of my league. I saw so many women who had a passion to write and speak…and then there was me; an unknown Accountant from Southern California who had, until now, never dreamed of seriously being able to write - but regardless felt I had a story to tell. I did not know or feel it at the time, but would realize later that God had brought me there for a reason.
Here was my dilemma; I was in the middle of writing my book with a deadline fast approaching, and I had serious writer’s block. I had written the hard, emotional part of my story, but then what? That was only half the book. Then it hit me right between the eyes. I had turned it into my project instead of God’s project. Wow!! What a revelation into my prideful heart. In the beginning, I was telling my friends that I was just being obedient to God and I was following His will for me and truly believe that was my heart’s intent. But looking back, I was not very obedient in that I dragged my feet for six months before I decided to jump in and start writing. And in spite of that, everything was going fine. But then gradually, over time, the one thing that I did not want to happen happened. I got in my own way. My heart started to be in it for the purpose of what I was writing, and how I was going to help so many women and daughters know that they are not alone with their struggles. The one thing I kept hearing was “I”. No wonder I had writers block. It wasn’t supposed to be my words pouring onto the paper, it was supposed to be God’s words.
So, in the middle of the night, down on my knees I went and began to pray. I asked for forgiveness from our Heavenly Father and fully surrendered my writing and this book back to Him. You see God wanted me to write this book for His purposes and not my own. His words need to be spoken to these women. So I boldly prayed for God to show me why He wanted me at this conference. What was the main reason He allowed me to come? Lord, download into my heart this next portion of my book so that I may write your message and not my own. Show me what your will is for me and I will follow. Forgive me for my prideful heart.
As I prayed and listened in the quietness of my room, I felt the Lord starting to speak to my heart. He told me there were many reasons why I was there and I will find them out over the next couple of days, but the main reason was for this right here; for me to ask for forgiveness for the state of my heart and to realize that God wants me in ministry and not ME-nistry. He knew I would only realize that surrounded by 800 other women who also felt God’s calling to write and speak.
A big point of this story is to illustrate how God not only gets our attention in a big way! But also how these experiences drive us to our knees in prayer. It is through prayer that we speak to and are guided by our Lord. It is there that he heals our heart, reassures us of his forgiveness and unconditional love, no matter how we screw things up. There are many different aspects to praying, but there are three main goals to help guide us in our prayer life.
1) Prayers require boldness. God wants you to boldly go to Him and ask for that forgiveness or for whatever need you may have. Maybe it is for a loved one who is ill, or maybe it is for a new job or for better finances. Maybe it is something that you think is small and trivial. It doesn’t matter. God wants you to BOLDLY go to Him with the trust and the faith in knowledge that God is a forgiving and loving God full of sovereignty. He wants to talk to you about those small things. He wants that relationship with you. So pray boldly.
2) Pray with specificity. Sometimes we pray in general terms. Be specific with exactly what you are praying for. Sometimes we may not know and that is ok, but sometimes I think we do know, but we are afraid to ask, so we pray in general terms forgetting that God knows our hearts and knows exactly what we need and want. He wants us to be specific in our prayers. It helps us also know when God is answering those specific needs and seeing His hands over matters in our lives. Keeping a log of our prayers also helps us to know when and how he answers.
3) Practice being silent in your prayers. Take the time to listen. We often talk and talk and talk in our prayers and sometimes that is needed. But sometimes we forget to listen with our hearts in how God is trying to respond to us. God loves to lay different things on our hearts as we are praying and it is so amazing when we hear it. Praying is a two way conversation and when we realize that, it opens the door to an even bigger prayer life.
When I followed these three steps in my prayer that night, God answered in my quietness. I felt Him say…now I can use you and oh by the way here is what you need to write about for the next half of your book. I was up almost all that night basking in God’s love and writing down His thoughts for His book. I was overwhelmed by His presence that whole weekend and God and I had such an amazing time together.
How is your prayer life doing? Do you feel close to God through your prayer or do you feel a distance when you pray? Perhaps you are like I have been in prayer. You pray because that is what you are supposed to do, it is more mechanical than spontaneous and quiet. Try relaxing and have interactive conversations with God and in quietness feel His love embrace you. Just remember, prayer time with God is personal time with Him and He loves to spend that time with your open heart and show you how much He loves you.
4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.