All my life, I’d heard it. “We should pray.” All my life, they’d preached it. “You should pray.” In church. At Bible School. On the radio and everywhere, Christians would say it. “We all must pray.”
Often, it came laden with guilt. “It’s not enough.” Often, a sense of uncertainty. “Will He answer?” Over it all, a general sense of striving. “Do more!” Followed by a feeling of failure.
It was some months ago that I laid it out. Running along, I said to the One Who Hears, “I want You to teach me about prayer. I’m too tired for spiritual activity any more. I can’t ‘do’ just to be ‘doing.’ So I want to know three things: I want to know HOW it works. I want to know THAT it works, and I want to know why I should do it.”
I’ve gotten very honest with God like that.
Like He always does, He listened. Counting it as faith, He didn’t scold. In fact, it seemed to me it made Him happy. And then He spoke.
“The first thing you need to know is Who you’re praying to.”
My shoes went slap-slap-slapping on the road. On either side, beans and corn. Above me, summer skies, and in the breeze, the Spirit’s brush.
“That’s lesson one.”
Who I’m praying to. Aha! Now therein lay the difference. The One that I was talking to, He was not the god of old. The god of judgment, of anger; god of punishment and wrath. The god of performance and striving and work. Not that one.
This One, He was my Father, a human’s true-est parent. And when a girl went to her Father, well, that was a whole other story. Her Dad…
Even now, I’m smiling as I remember it. What a way to look at prayer. What an incredible thing to know. That the God of the Universe Who holds all power, that One, that God is your Dad. ‘Cause He picked you.
And from there, fresh prayer…fresh power…fresh purpose.
Fast forward to the fall. I’m still running. Still seeking. Still asking God to prove it, to show me. And I’m still feeling His smile and pleasure.
Then “War Room,” and a series of sermons on prayer.
Having watched the movie twice, I’m inspired. Seeing what’s happening at church, I’m excited. For Pastor and the team have set up a War Room on campus and are calling Gideon’s Three Hundred to prayer. Yes, it’s time.
I’m not interested in following fads. I don’t care what the latest craze is. I want to know for myself what prayer is and how it works, and why, exactly, I should do it. I want to know. And so I’ve chosen to take a concrete step. With my husband’s help, a little space has been cleared in an actual closet, and I’ve chosen to show you my tools.
It all starts here. His Word, His promises, His plan.
I went to Target and picked out a bunch of fun, colorful tools to use. Putting things in black and white (or, better yet, pretty colors) and sticking them up where I can see them seems powerful to me, and I want a visible witness of His presence.
I have two journals that I use. I can write out prayers with Scripture in the big one (note the color and the coffee motif–fun,fun!) and tape it on the wall.
The first thing that went up was this verse. It seemed important to me to declare this in a tangible way. It heartens me, fuels my courage somehow.
And lastly, the compilation of my tool chest. The sword that lays across it all is quite precious to us, for it is the sword of Peter, King of Narnia, and it bears a meaningful inscription. Seeing it standing in the corner reminds me of the Sword of the Spirit and the armor that never fails.
Here I go on the experiment of a lifetime in the laboratory of prayer. I feel the oddest sense of excitement, adventure. As Friend Jesus has instructed, you won’t know when I slip into my closet, but that’s when the real fighting begins, and He will know it.