When Prayer Feels Like The Lottery
I’m so grateful that after the winter, spring always comes.
In our lives as in nature.
After a bit of an emotional winter, spring has sprung in my heart again too.
At this point in my life, I realize that joy is not dependent on my circumstances. Neither what’s happening around me nor how I’m feeling on any given day can disqualify joy.
Joy is outside the bounds of all that.
It’s available to us always. No matter what is happening, or not happening as the case may be.
I don’t know about you, but that is GOOD NEWS to me.
And there’s always a but…
There are times when it seems so very elusive. When we try and try to find joy despite our feelings or surroundings and we just can’t seem to spot it anywhere.
We know the right answers in our heads, but our hearts cannot seem to make the connection.
Right answers never bring joy.
Especially if those right answers are just ideas trapped in our minds.
Only when they are truths, etched into our hearts do I believe joy really starts to appear.
And oh what a sight it is! Like a fiery orange sunrise after a long cold night.
So what does this all have to do with prayer?
I’ll start by saying that I suck at prayer.
I have a hard time concentrating and when I do pray it’s usually brief and to the point. I know people whose prayers are so powerful, not only do they ask for wonderful things, but they bless the person being prayed for in the process.
Mine aren’t like that.
I just feel like they’re lame and I’m always like, “Ok God, here’s the situation, please do something. Make it better, fix it, draw them to You, something. Um, yeah that. Just all that. Really.”
It’s as if once I get the request out I don’t have anything else to say. My only option feels like repeating it over again and that seems silly so I just stop.
Not exactly the passionate “pounding on the doors of heaven” kind of prayers that come from the gut.
I think something happened to me along the way…
Maybe this has happened to other people too. You pray as fervently as you know how for something big, like the health of a loved one (true story) or the life of the fatally ill baby of a dear friend (also true) and God does something else.
They both die.
Too young. Too tragically.
And you have no idea how to process it.
We all know “God must have had something better in mind” and “God always answers prayer, just not always the way you want Him to” and “His ways are not our ways” and “He works all things together for good”.
Blah blah freaking blah.
Those trite Christian sayings don’t mean anything to people who are hurt. They just make it all worse.
It’s like, “how would you like some vinegar to go with that open wound??”
After navigating those murky waters in my own story, I started to believe that crap happens. The cards fall where they may and God doesn’t usually change them, he just works in our hearts after we are blown apart.
He loves us and wants to mend our heartbreak, but He’s probably not going to step in to stop stuff from happening.
I know some of you are nodding your heads and some of you think I lost my damn mind.
I’m not saying this is the right perspective on prayer, it’s just the one that I’ve been holding onto for the past year or so.
I think it kind of lowered my expectations a little which made it easier for me to even talk with God. I read that prayer is keeping company with God and I found it was easier to do that when I wasn’t hoping against hope that He would just DO SOMETHING ALREADY.
I’ve also fallen prey to quick little prayers tossed up hoping to score on a heavenly lottery ticket. (John Eldredge)
You know, if I lay tired and sick on my couch uttering things halfheartedly up to God all day long, He might find it in His heart to pick one and answer it.
But that’s not how He rolls.
He’s not a reluctant participant in my life, bothered, really, by my requests, unwilling to act until he gets tired of hearing the sound of my voice. (John Eldredge)
We certainly don’t understand how He rolls, and I think one of the keys to Christianity is becoming ok with that. The not knowing and not understanding.
The full realization that He is a mystery and we have to be alright with that this side of heaven.
But I’m also learning that there is something to passionate, authoritative prayers like those found in the Psalms.
The raw, ugly, honest, vulnerable, even whining prayers that acknowledge our desperate need for a loving Heavenly father.
I took a chance and wrote a prayer like that in my journal last week (because I can stick with a prayer much longer when I write it) and it made all the difference.
My circumstances didn’t change immediately, but boy did my heart start to change that very afternoon.
Give it a try. If you’re at the end of your rope and you’re growing exasperated by little lotto prayers, try spilling your very guts out to Him and see what He does.