“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” Matthew 6”7-8
I think sometimes we make this thing called prayer more complicated than it was ever meant to be. I love this scripture because while we look many times for what to do, we also need to realize just as importantly sometimes is what not to do. We do not have to make our prayers flowery and long in order to be heard by God. We just have to come before Him with an honest heart!
I mentioned a couple of weeks ago my friend Ms. Beth who pointed me to Jesus and taught me how to make prayer my lifeline. I was a young mama and I was going through a season of life that the Lord was really calling me to go deeper into my prayer life. Around that time our pastor was preaching on having a daily quiet time with the Lord. I also ran across a book by an author Becky Tirabassi called “Let Prayer Change Your Life” and I met Ms. Beth. You will never make me believe that those three things lining up in my life at the same time was an accident. There is just no way. I remember thinking I want to go deeper when Bro. Phil would talk about knowing your Bible and having a daily prayer life. When I read the book I mentioned, this author, Becky, said that she would sit down to pray for an hour each day. I thought, well I am going to do that, and that she journaled her prayers. I still remember the first day I decided to do that and I sat down with a journal in front of me and I sat on my patio with children running around in the back yard and I had a piece of paper in front of me and I thought now what, what do I write? What do I say? I think my first journal entry was about a half a page and my prayer may have lasted 5 minutes tops! But it was my beginning of having a most daily quiet time for about 23 years now. I don’t say that to toot my horn. Please know that. I say that simply to say that it has changed me. It has carried me. It has saved my life! And it has made me the woman I am today. Not that I am all that special but I shudder to think where I would be if I had not had that in my life.
When I first started journaling and having a prayer time, I needed a lot of guidance on just how to stick with it. One of the things I did to help me in my journaling was following an acrostic.
P – Praise God for who He is.
R – Repent of your sins and where you fall short.
A – Ask for God to meet your needs, wants and desires
Y – Yield to God’s Will
I don’t follow much of an acrostic anymore and I don’t really journal every day like I did back then. Although I do still keep one and write usually at least once a week. Journaling kept me focused when my mind would try to wander. I am glad I journaled all those years too because it gave me something to look back on. And truly it was the tool that helped to build my relationship with Jesus into what it is today. I love Him with my whole heart and I could not last a day without this relationship. Many of my pages of my journals are tear stained. There are also many where I was hurt and angry and I probably wrote so hard on the pages I thought I would write right through them. It’s been the constant in my life but the most important component in my journals and in my prayer life is to come to Him honestly. He doesn’t care what my words are and how they come together. He doesn’t think they need to be woven beautifully. All He cares about is that I bring my honest heart to Him when I come. Sometimes I am dragging my will to Him like it’s in a big old knapsack and I have to take my worries, my hurts and my desires out of that sack one by one and lay them at the foot of the cross. Sometimes they line up with His will and sometimes I have to yield to His will and in the laying it down I have to ask Him to change my heart. And I tell Him truthfully if this is not really what I want to do. That is really one of the things Ms. Beth taught me. Ms. Beth taught me that when she was hurt or angry with another person she would always take them to Jesus. I can still remember her sweet voice as she would say “I just tell Him, Lord you gave me this man and you have to show me how to deal with Him when He makes me angry. He’s all yours.” I loved the way Ms. Beth said “Lord”. And mind you she loved her sweet man but just like all of us he made her angry too.
You may be years into a prayer journey with Jesus or you may be just beginning one. If you are just beginning, the most important thing I can tell you is bring your honest heart to Him. Journaling will keep you focused if you need to and it doesn’t have to be a fancy one. I usually just use a composition notebook. And just tell Him what you need. As the scripture says, He already knows!