I Don’t know How to Pray!

“You need to pray about that. See what the Lord is telling you,” I said one day.

“I can’t do that,” my friend said.

“Why not?”

“I don’t know how to pray. I’d feel foolish. What if God doesn’t like what I say, or how I say it?”

What if, indeed? How many of us have felt that very same way, especially when we’re just starting out in our prayer life?

Prayer is a conversation with the Lord. It’s not a stilted, uneasy litany of words you have to say in a certain order before you tell Him your situation and ask Him for what you really need. Or should I say want? After all, what we think we need may not always be what the Lord KNOWS we need! Which is why many times we don’t think He’s listening to us. We just think our prayers aren’t being heard, because we aren’t praying correctly.

There’s a line in a country song I’ve heard many times in which the dad heard his 4 year old son praying. “He was talking to God like he was talking to a friend!”

Well that’s the way it should be.

Yes, God is the Lord over all of the universe. We know that. But He also loves each and every one of us, just as a father loves his children unconditionally. And unlike some earthly misguided parents, He will never turn His back on us and walk away.

He’s not only our father; he’s our friend. And as our friend…in fact our BEST friend…He wants to have a conversation with us. He wants to hear about our life. He wants to hear our thoughts and fears; our ups and downs. He wants to console us and guide us. He wants to answer our questions and open doors for us that need to be opened. And prevent us from going into situations where we can be hurt.

Isn’t that what your best friend would do for you?

Philippians 4:6 …Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.

So why are we afraid to talk to Him? Because that’s really what prayer is supposed to be. Talking to the Lord, having a conversation with Him. Friend to friend. Because He wants to hear from you. And by talking with Him, praying to Him, you give Him permission to act on your behalf.

It may be difficult at first, especially if you’ve been taught most of your life that you have to pray a certain way and only a certain way. That we have to say certain things before He’ll even start to listen to us. That’s not how it is.

The Lord listens to a child’s prayer who just talks to Him like a friend. Like we used to do until our adult selves told us otherwise.

It’s time to return to that simple way of prayer. Time to talk to the Lord in our own words; not in other people’s words.

Have a simple conversation with Him. It’s actually easier than you think. You don’t have to close your eyes. You don’t have to get on your knees. You don’t have to be in s certain place; you can pray in your car, in the shower, when you’re shopping; whenever and wherever you need or want to. You can talk to Him out loud, or even better, just talk with your heart. Because He hears you. And He answers.

So what did I tell my friend who said she didn’t know how to pray? I just told her. And I told you, too.

The Lord is waiting to have a conversation with you. And there’s never a better time than right now.

Waiting for the Phone to Ring

A couple of months ago there was something I really, really wanted. I’d had a job interview for what I thought was an exciting opportunity. I had a great feeling when I left the interview. I’d interviewed with two different people, and we seemed to hit it off perfectly. We’d even talked about the training program, and the places we’d call on during that training period, and all the fun we’d have during the process. The salary was great, and the benefits were more than I’d imagined. The decision was going to be made the following week.

So I wrote my thank you emails, and then I waited for the phone to ring. I didn’t get a response back from the emails, but that really wasn’t that unusual. At least so I’ve experienced, in this day and age.

I figured I wouldn’t hear back from the decision maker until at least the middle of the next week, because I’d been told a decision would be made by the end of the week. So as the days went by, I waited, somewhat patiently, at least for a while. After all, I hadn’t really been looking for a new job, but this one had just come across my email, and someone said I‘d be perfect for it, so, well, why not try?

The phone never rang, and the email never came. In fact, I heard absolutely nothing back. Not even a “thank you so much for talking to us but we chose someone else”. Just silence. And then I started really thinking the worst about myself. How could I have been so wrong?
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I’d even prayed over it every night, and asked God to please, PLEASE let the answer be yes. I even thanked Him in advance for the new position. I imagined myself in that new job, and even planned what I’d do with the pay increase.

But the call never came.

God didn’t answer my prayer.

Or did He?

Sometimes His answer is “no”. And that’s not what we want to hear, because we really think we know best; that we know better than God does. And we make sure we tell Him that. I’ve written about this before, but it’s important to write about it again, especially in this particular instance.

Because it wasn’t my time. And it wasn’t the job He wanted me to have. He had something much better in mind for me, and He knew that I wasn’t ready for it yet, because He still had certain things for me to accomplish in my existing job, before He could release me into the next one.

And He did just that, and quite by accident, or so I thought. But then again, the Lord never does anything by accident. It’s all a part of His plan for us. I answered another email that someone had sent me, even though I figured nothing would come of it, and as a result of answering that email, I started my new position this week, with an even better pay increase, and much closer to home, which will allow me to spend the time I want to spend with my new granddaughter when she arrives next month.

That’s just how the Lord works. He knew when the phone was supposed to ring, and who was going to be on the other end of it. And He made that phone ring when I was least expecting it.

Psalm 27:14 tells us to “Wait for the Lord. Be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” I wasn’t willing to wait, but He made me wait. Because He had something so much better to give me.

Waiting is difficult. We are by nature impatient. We want what we want, and we want it now. Or better yet, yesterday. We want that phone to ring, and sometimes the silence is deafening. We think God is ignoring us, and even begin to feel that He’s deserted us.
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That’s when He shows up. At just the right time. Because it’s His time, not ours.

If you are standing in faith for something, and praying over it, waiting for something to happen, don’t give up. It’s not done in your time; it’s done in His.

That phone is going to ring, and when it does, and you answer, you’re going to get exactly what you need.

But Which Door?

We’re all familiar with this scripture from Matthew 7:7. Many of us know it by heart. But take careful note of these two different versions from these two different translations. Don’t they seem to have two different meanings?

“Knock and the door will be opened to you.”(NIV) When we refer to this particular passage, it sure seems to mean that if we knock on that door it’s going to open. Right? At least that’s how I’m looking at it.

But then the New Living Translation states it like this: “Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.”

Keep on knocking? Doesn’t He hear me the first time? Of course He does. Then why do I have to keep knocking? Why doesn’t He just open the door?

Good question. Maybe I’m knocking on the wrong door? Or maybe what’s behind it isn’t ready yet. It’s like being invited to someone’s home and showing up an hour early. The hosts aren’t ready for you. The table isn’t set; and the food is still cooking. It’s not the right time yet. You’re too early.

Maybe it’s the wrong door. If you get the address wrong of where you’re invited, and no one is home, you’d wonder why your friends invited you and then weren’t even there. And you’d be angry. Or the door would open and neither of you would know each other. You’d all be embarrassed, and then you’d have to call your friends and ask them their address again. That sure wouldn’t start out the evening well, would it?

mat7_7Or maybe we aren’t ready for what’s behind that door. We aren’t quite prepared. Would you go on a vacation without packing your suitcase with everything you think you’ll need? You wouldn’t be ready, would you? Then you’d have to scramble around when you got to your destination and try to find the things you should’ve already had with you but forgot to pack.

What if it seems like there are two, or even three, doors in front of you? How do you know which door to knock on? Sometimes you can knock on the one you think is right until your knuckles are almost bleeding, and nothing happens. Discouraged, you go to another door which doesn’t look as good, and it opens right away! Sometimes without our even knocking.

So how do we really know which door is the one the Lord wants us to go through? And what about that door we’re so sure He’d opened for us? The one we happily run through into what seems to be wonderful…for a time, that is. And then everything behind that door suddenly becomes uncomfortable and stifling; and you know if you don’t go back out that door, you’re going to be trapped.

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So did you go through a door you weren’t supposed to? Or was it actually a door that was a stepping stone to something better? Perhaps if you hadn’t gone through that door when you did, you wouldn’t have this other door open in front of you that really is better! In fact, it’s what you’re been looking for for quite a long time.

Over the past several years I’ve really been searching for those doors. Every time I think I’ve found the right one, I knock and knock. Sometimes I even try to take a battering ram to it to try to open it because I KNOW I’m supposed to be going through it. And sometimes I succeed in opening that door and charging through it, only to discover I went somewhere I wasn’t supposed to be. And then it’s back to square one, trying to find the right door again.

So how do we determine whether it’s the right door?

We knock on the door by praying…

That’s where prayer comes in. That’s how we knock on the door. When we pray in faith, believing for answers, the Lord answers those prayers. Sometimes He doesn’t answer them the way we want Him to. He knows better. And when He delays His answers, it’s usually because He’s trying to get us to a better place. A place that may not be ready for us yet. He knows what door He wants us to walk through, but sometimes we don’t like that door, and try to find another one we like better.

That’s where it starts going wrong. Since the Lord gives us free will to make decisions, when our own minds, our own hard-headed stubbornness takes over, those doors can start opening because we force them to, and then we’re in trouble.

I have learned, and yes, I continue to learn, that forcing that door open is not the answer, any more than going from door to door, testing each one and pulling on it to see if it’s the right one. I have learned that sometimes we go through one door in order to be directed to another one. And I have learned that no matter how had I pray that a certain door will be opened, if that’s the wrong door, no crowbar, no battering ram, not even a grenade, is going to open it.

I continue to believe in the promises of the Lord. And I continue to pray for what I’m hoping for. That’s exactly how I’m knocking on that door. And when it’s time, it’s going to open, and it’s going to be perfect!

Header Photo taken by Betsy Roberts Sclater Beamon, Bandi-e-Amier, Afghanistan, August, 2005