Hey, y’all! Welcome back to the blog.
I was honestly hoping to post several times in January, but the month got away from me and now we’re already into February. 😱
I’ve been focusing on good things, though, including: keeping up with my journal better, reading more books for fun, and strengthening my personal relationship with God (especially through prayer, which I’m going to talk about in this post!). I’ve been focusing on myself a lot more (in a healthy way) and although I’ve missed writing for y’all, it’s been helpful to remember that my mental health comes first and there isn’t any shame in self-care.
The first week of the spring semester at my school is known as the Week of Prayer, or Prayer Week, and I was incredibly blessed to be able to take part for the first time as a freshman. It didn’t all go according to plan (we went into Covid lockdown halfway through) but there was still so much growth in my prayer life during those five days, and it’s continuing to impact me even now.
To explain how Prayer Week works, we basically had four sessions a day: 1) First thing in the morning with a guest speaker, 2) personal reflection time after a short snack break, 3) small-group prayer time later in the afternoon, and then 4) another guest speaker for an evening session. The worship teams played at the beginning of every in-person session (we had to switch to YouTube videos when we moved to Zoom, unfortunately). It was all so good, though!
I just went back through my session notes/personal reflections in my journal, and will do my best to pare it down to my top three takeaways. You may want to grab a journal or use your phone’s notes app… some of the session speakers had amazing things to say!
1. God craves to be believed.
This is a quote from one of the session speakers, and the single-most important line from the entire week of prayer for me. It has radically changed my mindset regarding prayer and is now my prayer-life mantra.
It comes from this verse:
Therefore I tell you, everything you pray and ask for —believe that you have received it and it will be yours.Mark 11:24 CSB
Here’s an excerpt from my journal:
When you pray, believe. Not in the miracle, but in the Miracle-worker. Not in the gift, but in the Father who delights to give us every good thing…. He has something amazing planned for you—a million somethings—and it would be so devastating if you never experienced them for lack of claiming it and walking it out. This isn’t the name it and claim it gospel, this is BELIEVING GOD CAN DO WHAT HE SAYS HE WILL. Call to Him and He will show you great and mighty things. Seek and you will find, ask and you will receive, knock and to you the door will be opened. Believe Him, freshman.
The statement “God craves to be believed” hit me so profoundly because I realized that God is a person too. He wants a relationship with me. He wants to bless me. But more than that He wants me to believe that He has the power to do so. Prayer is all about relationship and getting to know the heart of God.
I realized that my doubtful and half-hearted prayers were hurting God’s heart because He wanted more for me than just “If it’s Your will, please do this. Amen.” He wants to spend time with me and show me things that blow my mind when I pray. God is after our hearts, our time, our attention. He craves to be believed like a good friend, not taken light-heartedly and dismissed as some guy in the sky who sometimes does stuff for people who do things for Him.
Prayer should always lead to worship, and a deeper trust in the One we’re praying to. Even when we don’t get what we’ve prayed for, there is a purpose for the time we devote to the search–”If it happens we celebrate, and if it doesn’t we worship in the mystery.” Sometimes prayer changes our situations, but sometimes God just wants us to pray because it changes ourselves.
Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’? Everything is possible for the one who believes.” Immediately the father of the boy cried out, “I do believe; help my unbelief!”Mark 9:23-24
2. Keep the main thing the main thing
This is also a quote from one of the prayer week speakers, and one that other students and I have found ourselves returning to as well.
It’s so easy to get distracted by ministry, thinking that we have to go out and do this, this, and this. As the speaker so eloquently put it, we often make ministry our main thing and use our prayer lives to fuel our ministry. But when we look at the example of Jesus in the gospels, we see that He made His prayer life the main thing and His ministry came about as a result (fruit) of His prayer life.
That was another huge paradigm shift for me–realizing that knowing God is my main purpose in life. I don’t know God so that I can do good works, I do good works because I know God.
Prayer does not fit us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work.~Oswald Chambers
When we keep the main thing the main thing, prayer and worship become so much more enjoyable because they aren’t just tasks on a to-do list—they’re the very reason for which we are alive.
Sometimes we feel like prayer is a waste of time, and I do believe that it can be a form of procrastination. But it has to come first and be a priority before we do anything else, because God is our source of strength.
I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.~Martin Luther
3. Don’t just be a person who prays–be a person of prayer.
I really like this concept. It kind of goes along with keeping the main thing the main thing, because we are called to pray without ceasing. Prayer is a calling.
One of the speakers said: “We have plenty of preaching, but not enough prayer.” Something inside me lit up when he said that, because I realized that I was trying so hard to build a platform for writing and preaching that I wasn’t emphasizing my prayer life enough. Prayer moves mountains. Prayer starts revivals. If we want to greatly influence a person in our life, it’s as simple as praying for them behind closed doors. We have the potential to change the course of someone’s life without their knowing it. How cool is that?
A person of prayer is also a person who doesn’t care about their surroundings when they pray: sometimes I feel like I have to be alone in a small room, with aesthetic fairy lights, and perfect music in the background. But guess what? Prayer isn’t about ambience.
I wrote this in my journal during one of the sessions (I believe it’s a paraphrase of what the speaker said):
Praying without ceasing doesn’t have to be atmosphere-perfect, staged, or a performance of feelings. It can be an on-going conversation.
Prayer isn’t glamorous or something we should only engage in when the mood is right. Prayer is our purpose and our calling. It’s something that God craves from us. It’s something that moves mountains, equips us for the tasks at hand, and brings us joy and fulfillment.
Prayer is so important because it’s how we talk with God. Our relationship with Him will rise or fall based on how often we pray, because prayer is how we draw near to God.
“We are as close to God as we want to be.”
Do we desire to be close to God? Then we ought to pray without ceasing. And we ought not to forget to read His Word either, because that’s part of how we hear His responses back to us. Prayer is about listening for His voice just as much as it is casting our cares on Him.
Ever since prayer week, I’ve been in more of a prayer mind-set, and I do believe I will see answers to my prayers. Sometimes it’s hard to keep going–especially when the words feel rote and meaningless–but God hears every one of our prayers.
As I was reflecting on the week, I just thought: how cool is it that God is still answering prayers that we prayed last year? Five years ago? Ten years ago? Our prayers don’t have an expiration date. We may forget we ever even prayed them, but our God never will.
Don’t be deceived: God is not mocked. For whatever a person sows he will also reap,Galatians 6:7
I hope this was encouraging for you, and that you found something to take away and apply to your own prayer life! Feel free to comment down below with any prayer requests, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to keep them private.
Have a good week, friends!
Until next time: