“Ask, and it will be given to you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” ~Matthew 7:7-8
Y’all, can I just start this post by thanking God for how good He is? Because He truly is amazing! He hears our every word… and He answers us.
To be honest with you guys, my prayer life is often dry and even nonexistent at times. I’m way more likely to think “oh I should pray for that” or “oh I’ll add it to my prayer list” than to actually get on my knees and talk with God about it. I decided that needed to change, so I’m taking Mark Batterson’s 40-day prayer challenge!
Today is day 10 of the challenge, and I’m not gonna lie to you–my life is different than it was 10 days ago. My perspective of prayer is different than it was 10 days ago. I’m different than I was 10 days ago!
I’m not sure the best way to say this, but here’s my best attempt: When I thought I was walking with God, I was actually walking with thoughts about God. Almost like He’s a concept rather than a person. Because while I was reading the Bible every day and going to (or streaming) church every Sunday morning, I had failed to let our relationship go below the surface. Like what I wrote in a past post: chasing Christianity instead of chasing Christ. Chasing ideals rather than embracing reality.
But making a commitment to be on my knees, in my prayer circle (yes, I actually draw a literal circle in my carpet), at 7:14 every morning has been a life changer. Rather than just thinking about prayer, I actually do it! I don’t just “do my devotions” in the morning anymore, but instead I “meet with God” in the morning!
There are three things that God has taught me during the prayer challenge thus far, and they’re so good that I want to share them with you, so keep reading!
Are You Serious?
It was day 2 of the challenge–last Monday morning. I decided to be really ambitious and go all in: read my Bible and write in my journal from 5:00-7:00, read the Draw the Circle prayer devotion by Mark Batterson and watch his daily video on Instagram from 7:00-7:13, be on my knees from 7:14-8:30, and then listen to some worship music until 9:00. Sounds great, right?
The problem was, I had also decided that I wasn’t going to get on my phone first thing. So instead of setting an alarm on my phone as usual, I was relying on my watch to wake me up. And… well… it didn’t. I didn’t wake up until 7:20. Thank God that prayer isn’t restricted by a clock! Realizing that I was late anyway, I decided to just do some things on my phone first. It’s really hard for me to stay off my phone, because everything is on there! I realized that the devotion email I read every morning is on there, my YouVersion plans are on there, even my worship music is on there. So anyway, I quickly realized that ditching my phone was NOT going to work. I ended up taking my time, but I finally grabbed my journal and a devotion book and headed out to the back deck around 8:00.
I was kind of upset that it was only day 2 and I had already missed the appointment, but I was determined to spend some time with God anyway. I sat down in my zero-gravity chair that I got for Christmas, and with the morning sound of birds around me, I opened up to the page I had left off in my book.
Now, the reason I was reading this particular book in the first place was a God reason in and of itself, because I had bought it at a church sale that I went to with a friend last summer, but I never actually read past page 35. Earlier that week, I was watching some YouTube videos on a channel that I just discovered recently (which I’m convinced is an answer to prayer too, just saying) and she mentioned something about reading a book that encouraged her to be a God Girl and to wake up before the sun to be with God. As soon as she said that, I was like “OH MY GOSH, I HAVE THAT BOOK.” I ran over to my book case and pulled out Devotions for the God Girl by Hayley DiMarco. It still had my bookmark in it from where I had left off.
Back to me sitting in my zero-gravity chair on the back deck, I opened up to the page with the bookmark and started reading. Do you know what’s on page 36?? It starts with this verse:
But if you look for the Lord your God when you are among those nations, you will find Him whenever you search for Him with all your heart and with all your soul.(Deuteronomy 4:29)
The first lines of the devotion text are these: “Do you find it hard to connect with God? Hard to hear His voice?”
I was just sitting there like, umm… YES.
The author continues on: “Don’t worry, this is to be expected. God wants to see how much energy you’re gonna put into finding Him and getting to know Him. He’s interested in the chase.”
WOAH, right? I felt like God was saying, “It doesn’t matter that you were late today. What matters is that you cared enough to meet with Me.”
I finished reading the rest of the devotion and then took out my journal. This is part of what I wrote:
I just read the first page of God Girl that I left off with and it was absolutely perfect! God’s timing is amazing. He never ceases to amaze me. It was about not hearing from God and how sometimes He just wants to see how dedicated we are–we have to be persistent and show Him we’re serious. In my words, He plays hard to get. But He promises to be found by those who seek Him, by those who do so with all their heart. Maybe God woke me up late to see how committed I truly am.
Jeremiah 29:12-13 says this: “Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you seek Me with all your heart.”
Don’t give up, friend. He’s with you even when you can’t see and even when things don’t go the way you thought they would.
It Doesn’t Hurt to Ask
Jesus told us, in the Matthew passage at the top of this post, to ask. He told us to seek. He told us to knock. And you know what He said will happen when we do? We will receive, find, and have the door opened to us. So many times we have not because we ask not!
Now, I’m not saying that God is a genie in a bottle. He’s not a vending machine that spits out blessings whenever we push a button. But He is a good, good Father who desires to give good things to His children!
One of my favorite quotes from Mark Batterson is this: “God doesn’t answer 100% of the prayers we don’t pray.” That’s so true, isn’t it? How is God supposed to answer us if we never ask Him in the first place? Depending on His plans for you, He might say no, or He might say not yet. But what if He said yes? You’ll never know if you don’t ask.
On day 3 of the challenge, I spent an hour and a half praying for our world, our government leaders, my friends, and myself. I don’t remember all the specific things I prayed for, but I believe that some of them were that God would use me and that He would show me what to pray for. I’m pretty sure I was thinking more about the future when I asked that first one–more about my future impact and my future ministry.
But that same morning, I got a prayer request on YouVersion from one of my summer camp “sisters” that I hadn’t heard from in months. I wrote her back to say that I would definitely pray for her, and then I got the idea to reach out to some other girls from camp that I hadn’t heard from in a while. I ended up messaging a total of 4 girls, and while none of the conversations amounted to much, I just thought it was cool that God had allowed me those few words of influence.
He may not answer how you intended, but if you ask Him to use you, He will! It doesn’t hurt to ask.
You Will See Greater Things Than These
I don’t remember exactly what day of the challenge it was, but a few nights ago I decided to talk with God before I went to bed. I remember being kind of frustrated, and I told Him that. It was late at night, and I was sitting in my circle looking out the window as I was whisper-praying.
I started to say “I’m tired of…” but then I trailed off. I started again, “I’m tired of…” but I couldn’t finish. I tried a third time, “I’m tired of…”. I don’t know if I just didn’t know what I was tired of, or I just didn’t want to say, or if the Spirit was hushing me and saying no words were necessary. I don’t know. All I know is that I never finished that sentence, and that I suddenly felt completely at peace in the silence.
One morning of the prayer challenge (again, I don’t remember which…I really should be keeping a better journal), I was praying and for some reason felt the need to grab my Bible. I did, and opened it up to a random spot, which just so happened to be Psalm 143. I had verses 7 and 8 highlighted:
Answer me quickly, Lord; my spirit fails. Don’t hide Your face from me, or I will be like those going down to the Pit. Let me experience Your faithful love in the morning, for I trust in You. Reveal to me the way I should go because I long for You.
For just randomly opening my Bible, that was a pretty good chapter to come across. It was very encouraging to me in the moment and I re-read verses 7 and 8 several times. I thought it was cool that God had led me there.
Remember how Nathaniel in the Bible was amazed because Jesus told him He had seen him under a fig tree? Nathaniel was like, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel!” (John 1:49) And then Jesus said in verse 50, “Do you believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this.”
Jesus was probably thinking, “This guy thinks it’s so cool that I can see him under a tree…won’t he be surprised when he sees what else I can do!”
I kind of felt like Nathaniel that morning. God was saying, “If you’re amazed that I can use My Word to speak to you, just wait, Child! You will see greater things than these.”
One of my favorite verses is Jeremiah 33:3–“Call to me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things which you do not know.”
God desires to show you great and mighty things, and He absolutely will if you’re serious enough to seek Him first!
I’m so excited to continue with the prayer challenge, and I’m believing God for even greater things. You can start your own prayer journey today if you’d like; I’d encourage you to do so. If you show God you’re serious and aren’t afraid to ask Him, you will see great and mighty things!
Don’t give up, friends. Even though it may not seem like it, I believe the best is yet to come. Keep asking, keep searching, keep knocking. He will reward you for your faithfulness.
In Christ now and always,