I find it difficult to pray. This is not shocking- prayer is a discipline much like anything else that is good for me: working out, eating well, getting good sleep, taking time away, etc. I realized walking home yesterday one of the main reasons I find it difficult to pray- I see God the way I am and not as he is.
What I mean is that I often feel guilty about not praying enough, not praying about the “right” things, not praying often enough, not being focused in my prayer… the list goes on. Therefore, I picture God as being irritated with me when I do pray, judging me for the ways I do it “wrong.”
and this is silliness.
I cannot base the character of God off of myself- it is supposed to be the other way around. And this is where I felt true guilt.
I do not pray because I see God as myself. If the image of myself is one of irritation and judgement and that does not line up with who God is, then there is conviction about my behavior/attitude. I do not like to think I’m wrong and need to change; therefore, I assume God is like me and not that I need to be more like God.
It is my own behaviors and attitudes that keep me from praying, which keeps me from getting closer to God. It’s all connected.
What needs to change? Clearly, if something is not working, something must change.
So, what needs to change?
Perhaps it is my understanding of God’s character, taking a few minutes to pray for forgiveness about my own character, ask for help and then… move on. Let go of the guilt and jump back into that communication with God.
About asking God for help/change:
I pray from a foundation of fear. Have you ever prayed for patience? I have- then I hit every red light, run late, spill the coffee, get in misunderstandings, loose sleep, miss meals… I mean, things like patience are not just handed out, they are learned. I have become aware of what I pray for; what could this look like, will it be a hard lesson, how could this be learned? This leads to a shallow prayer life- praying for blessings instead of lessons when, often times, the true blessings are in the lessons. If I pray that the Lord would do something, I should have faith that he will (and I think that is my fear- that he will, in fact, act). But I should also have faith that he is also able to take care of me in those lessons. Just because it is difficult does not mean it is not worth it; in fact, many times, that is really living. Living on the surface… well, there’s just something constantly missing- a purpose, a drive… life.
Oswald Chambers speaks about “Gracious Uncertainty.” I love that entire devotion but here is a snippet:
To be certain of God means that we are uncertain in all our ways, not knowing what tomorrow may bring. This is generally expressed with a sigh of sadness, but it should be an expression of breathless expectation. We are uncertain of the next step, but we are certain of God.