Sometimes I spend so much time thinking about something…mulling it over, worrying about it, investigating it, even talking out loud about it…that I feel like I’ve surely prayed about it.
If you were to ask me if I’d prayed about it, I would almost assuredly insist that I had.
I did…didn’t I?
But I haven’t. I haven’t actually prayed about it.
Can you relate?
Maybe it’s because I am a Christ-follower. After all, if I’ve been spending that much time thinking about a dilemma or goal or struggle or conflict or dream or disappointment, then surely God is aware. He lives within me and knows my every thought, right? He searches me and discerns my thoughts from afar. He knows me intimately and is acquainted with all my ways. So He knows…you know?
Maybe it’s because I spend so much of my time by myself. I need it that way. I love being out and about with people. I thrive on interactions with friends and mentees and church family and the women I get to minister to. But because so much of my interaction with others involves deep conversations and intense pouring out and intimate sharing and careful listening…I need my alone time to reset and to drink in.
But sometimes I mistake alone time for God time. Just because I’m alone doesn’t mean I’m leaning into Him, sharing my heart with Him or listening to Him.
Or maybe it’s because I spend so much of my time doing “spiritual things” that I assume I’ve also prayed about the things closest to my heart. Because I’m passionate about the ministry I’m called to, I spend large chunks of my time studying my Bible, reading Christian books and blogs, counseling women, preparing messages, writing Bible studies and devotionals and teaching women’s studies. But none of that is a substitute for spending time in heart-to-heart conversation with my Lord.
And that’s what prayer is, you know. It’s more than me talking at God. And it’s certainly more than me having a conversation in my head.
- Prayer is leaning in towards the Lord the same way I would lean in toward a girlfriend over coffee and dessert.
- Prayer is sharing from my heart with the Lord the same way I would share my deepest concerns with a tenderhearted counselor.
- Prayer is letting down my guard and revealing my true emotions with the Lord the same way I’d let it all hang out with my husband.
- And prayer is listening for His response with more hope and desire and need than I would with anyone else.
Prayer is a conversation. And it’s intentional.
In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly. (1 Samuel 1:10)
“I am a woman who is deeply troubled… I was pouring out my soul to the Lord.” (1 Samuel 1:15)
Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast. (1 Samuel 1:18b)
Sometimes, because I’ve spent so much time ranting and raving about something to myself, I feel like I’ve surely prayed about it. But I haven’t.
He longs to hear me address my concerns, my hopes, my disappointments, my hurts and my questions to Him. And I need to anticipate His response…the compassion He will give, the wisdom He will offer, the perspective He will share and the truth He will insist upon.
Truly, when I don’t really pray about something but only think on it instead, I often miss out on the peace He is waiting to give me if I would just entrust it to Him. (Isaiah 26:3) I mistake the conventional wisdom of the world that comes to me for the supernatural wisdom of God that He gives to me. (James 1:5) He is waiting to take me into His arms and hold me close, but I’m pacing back and forth instead. And I miss the little revelations He longs to share with me…if only I’d turn my full attention to Him.
Do you sometimes think you’ve prayed about something…only to realize you never really have? You’ve only thought about it and maybe shared it with other people? Let’s make it a point to intentionally take our concerns to God in focused, intimate, honest and expecting prayer. I encourage you to stop where you are right now and take that nagging concern straight to the Lord. He’s been waiting patiently.
This devotional is part of a series called Healing Words. If you’d like to read other words that bring healing to your wounded heart, click on the image below.
If your heart has been wounded and you are struggling to find healing, I’d like to suggest you try my Bible study, Joseph – Keeping a Soft Heart in a Hard Place. You’ll find more information here.