A few years ago I was invited to be a part of a prayer team for a nationwide woman's ministry. Explaining that I was no where near a "prayer warrior" I agreed to pray for and correspond with women who wrote in with wounds specific to childhood abuse or sexual trauma. About a year later, I sent an embarrassing email saying that I just stunk at praying for their needs, and perhaps they shouldn't count on me to ever become a "prayer warrior". Shortly after, I stopped receiving specific needs, but to this day, I remain on a general list of prayer requests. They were so gracious. They didn't just drop me like a bad habit ... but, if I'm being honest, I secretly wished they had so I wouldn't feel guilty over being terrible at prayer.
Through Bible study this fall, the issue of my prayer life moved to the front burner. I passed a note to a woman in our group, asking that she join me in praying that my prayer life would be set on fire. And it has been! I have found myself walking through my days praying constantly, fervently, with depth and faith, and with personal needs and desires.
I have long been a thankful prayer; however, I have never been one to ask for much. I've often wound up saying "I pray that what you want happens and that I'll be at peace with it". My seasons of praying little had been prompted by this idea that "God knows what's on my mind and in my heart. He knows what I desire and what He plans, so my prayers really won't affect anything other than my attitude, and I'm already okay with God being the boss so I'll just let it play out..."
But it's recently hit me that He really wants me to ask Him. It's not enough for God to just know what I'm thinking and wanting - He wants me to ask Him. And I needn't be ashamed or embarrassed, guilted into believing that asking for things is selfish.
So... I was feeling unsure of how I fit in in a certain environment, so I asked God to allow specific conversations to happen - so I'd know where I stood. I fought the urge to chastise myself for being needy and insecure, relying on the acceptance of people rather than just "being filled up by God and God alone." I prayed that I would be affirmed by a specific person, and I was! Right away. First it was very casual, and I prayed that He would really draw us together and give us hearts for and vulnerability with one another. Immediately, we were led to meaningful conversations that both of us really needed to have. I praise God for moving this person towards me, prompting our discussions. It could not have happened in reverse; and what seemed an improbability turned out to happen very easily and naturally.
God doesn't always answer our prayers the way we want, but I do believe He is eager to pour out blessings on us and give us fulfillment beyond anything we can imagine. But maybe we don't get all of what He wants to give us if we don't ask for it.
“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened." Matthew 7:7-8
"I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need." Luke 11:8
Prayer is so simple ... yet, for me, it has not be a natural or easy concept. I'm so glad to have such a patient and generous Heavenly Father who puts up with my slow learning curve.