My wife knows. My friends at work know. I've told my small group. Even my parents are in the loop. Everyone who's anyone has given me their wise advice. Now, as I reach the decision point, I realize I left someone out. I'm content sharing my anxieties, my struggles, and my fears with everyone - everyone except for God. I've been so busy talking to other people that it's almost like God's left to find out about it through the grapevine.
Talking to Everyone One Else But God.
Lately, I've found myself seeking out Godly wisdom from people I trust more and more. Whether I’m discussing parenting and family situations with my accountability partner or asking for prayer from family members and friends from small group, God's been teaching me to reach out to others and trust them to offer guidance and care. But in doing this, I've neglected taking these concerns to God.
Have you known you needed to spend time pouring your heart out to God but struggled to actually get on your knees? I often have the courage to open up with friends and family, but I rarely take the time to offer my requests to God. If I do make the time, I become easily distracted in my thoughts and lose focus. Whether it’s simply being distracted or finding it difficult to humble ourselves, it’s easy to let things get between us and our Heavenly Father.
Let's Be Direct.
How can we be direct with God the same way we are with other people? As I searched for answers, I found a few resources that helped me focus.
When consistency and depth is lacking in our prayer life, it’s helpful to try new ways to connect our hearts to the heart of God. Pastor Gavin Ortlund outlines several methods in his blog post “Seven Ways to Fight Distraction During Prayer”. One method I’ve been encouraged to use lately is “prayer with a pen.” Intentionality writing out a prayer to God might take a bigger time commitment, but I’ve found that needing to choose specific words helps me focus on what I’m truly hoping to communicate to God. Plus if I keep prayers in a journal or notebook, I can look back over them to see how God has provided and moved in my circumstances.
Sometimes my lack of faithfulness in prayer goes deeper than simply being distracted. Fear and distress can also keep me from prayer instead of driving me towards my Heavenly Father. I appreciated Pastor Erik Raymond’s focus on the role that sin and guilt can play in keeping us from approaching God in prayer in his article “When Sin Keeps You from Prayer”. Although sometimes it’s difficult to consider my fears or exhaustion as sin, I resonated with his reminder that guilt multiplies. Often times I feel guilty over sin or for ignoring my need for prayer, and I get caught in a cycle of avoiding prayer because I feel guilty that I haven’t been praying!
A Prayer to Help Us Pray.
Refocus, talk to God, and be direct. Here's a passage that's helped me, and it's my personal prayer for all of us in this struggle:
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” - Hebrews 4:15-16