Monday, April 26, 2010
The prayer of a righteous woman is...
Praying used to make me anxious. I thought that I had to pray "the right way." I was always worried about what to pray for, or what order i should pray about things. I've read about "formulas" of prayer that please God the most, or a list of what a "complete" prayer contained. In short, I made prayer into a spiritual performance, something I had to get just right to gain favor in the eyes of the Father.
So, it comes as no surprise, I began to hate praying. I always felt so stupid when I was doing it. When I was praying with others (like in my lifegroup or with a friend), prayer made sense. But when I was alone prayer felt silly, like I was just making noise. Once again, viewing prayer as something that could get me into God's good graces, I felt even worse because prayer seemed to be such a good thing for so many people, and I just wasn't getting it.
In the past couple of months, however, I have realized how prideful I was being. What was I thinking, that God was laying on a cloud taking copious notes of what I was saying while I prayed? If I told God to do the wrong thing, would everything just fall apart? If I said the wrong thing would it make God angry at me so that he would hold it against me later? Surely not!
Now I find myself praying more often and at strange times. My feelings of stupidity have mostly been replaced with hope. I have cried less out of despair and more out of conviction. Part of me still wonders if I am getting it wrong- you know if there really is some magical balance of praise, thanksgiving, intercession and whatever those other components are... (btw, what is the difference b/t praise and thanksgiving?)But then I am reminded that God never said He wanted me to pray the "right way," He simply said he would be there to listen to the prayers I didn't even know were in my heart.
So tonight I'm thanking (or praising... haha) God for all the prayers in my heart that he's listening to at this very moment, that I don't have to find the right words to say, and that He is always working in the lives of his children whether I know what to say or not.
For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us. We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.)
And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.