It’s a new year, everyone is focused on new starts & resolutions. As I looked back on 2016 the biggest change that came through the year was my relationship with God. At the beginning of 2016 one of my goals was to become more disciplined & closer to God. I decided to start doing a more regular Bible study…and that was the 1st step in a series of prayers I feel like God led me in throughout the year that began changing my heart & my relationship with Him.
They are very basic prayers, but if, when you pray them, you genuinely mean them…if when you think or say the words, they come from that secret, deep down, overflowing part of your heart…if you’re willing & truly want what you’re asking for, you’ll see God move in you & through you in some incredible ways.
1.Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.
Early in the year, I was reading through the Bible & stumbled over the story in Mark 9 of Jesus & the man trying to heal his son of a spirit. In verse 23, Jesus states that everything is possible for those who believe & the father exclaims back that he does believe & asks Jesus to help his unbelief. This short, simple prayer struck me almost immediately. I’ve grown up in the church, I could tell you about most stories in the Bible…even ones that most people probably don’t remember. But knowing those stories is not the same as believing they happened or that my God was the one who led them. A lot of times, in reading the Bible, a lot of what is written there tends to feel more like fairy tales than real life. I mean really…pillars of fire? splitting seas? walls collapsing? It can sound like something out of the the Grimm Fairy tales. So…I started praying this prayer- but not just about growing my faith in what the Lord did in stories in the Bible, but also praying for more faith in what He WOULD do in my daily life. It has been insane. In reading the stories now, they are real. I imagine them really happening & how the Israelites would’ve actually reacted to some of them. I sit there & think “Wow! That’s MY God! The God that divided an ocean for people to cross, made pillars of fire, healed people, & created the universe…that’s MY God!” It’s liberating & joyous…and gives a lot of peace knowing I serve the God who has everything in His hands in His timing.
2.Teach me how to pray.
Again, a very short, simple prayer…but if you sincerely mean it when you talk to God…just watch your world & heart change. Before, & actually, through most of 2016 prayer made me feel very uncomfortable. I had some pretty negative experiences with some people through parts of high school & college…and to me, prayer became this thing that was one of two things: it was either a ritualistic chant that you hoped brought good luck, or it was an overly emotional, crazy, dramatic thing you did to get attention. So prayer & I rode the struggle bus for a while. Grant it, we still ride the struggle bus a lot…but growth is better than nothing. But this simple prayer- just asking God to teach me to pray, it has changed my relationship with Him. He’s become less of a “customer service complaint line” but rather someone who listens, someone who helps in situations that are beyond my control, He’s become someone I can turn to for the sake of others that I can’t reach any other way. He has become my source of peace, hope, & guidance when I just sit & revel in His presence, bringing others’ requests to Him…for good & out of the desire for HIS will instead of my own.
Through 2016 I also finished reading a book about the life of George Muller- a man who sought & found God’s will for His life…then prayed it through. He prayed for God to provide…He didn’t pray for God to provide a nice house, nice clothes, or a good job, but he prayed for God’s provision for the plans God had already laid before him. He had the faith enough to say that if it was God’s will (which he already knew it was) then God would provide their needs. He already knew God knew their needs, but brought them specifically anyways, & God always answered. It was such a testimony!
I don’t know about you all, but I DESPERATELY desire that type of life & relationship with God. A life that is WILLING to listen & follow whatever God asks…and able to TRUST that God will provide for the plans He’s laid out.
3. Thy will be done.
There was a new Christian song that came out in 2016 with a title similar to this. It is absolutely stunning & heart-wrenching. But it made me began to think- with the things that I go through, am I seeking what I want or what God wants? Even the hard, crappy situations in life…am I treating God like He’s a magic genie, here to make everything easy & cushy…or am I seeking His will even in the hardest & scariest situations? Along with this prayer, another song was on my mind a lot in 2016- “It Is Well with My Soul.” When you learn the history of why that song was written…and then listen to the lyrics, it is beautiful, heart-breaking, convicting, & inspiring all in one. A man lost pretty much everything AND most of his family, & he was still able to write these words. He wrote them because there is hope- because he knew his daughters knew Jesus. He knew that Jesus defeated death & sin, which was the only reason he would have the hope of seeing his daughters again. It is a love & a peace that is beyond understanding, but it is filled with SUCH hope & courage! So my soul has been crying out this prayer- thy will be done- so that I may have the hope, faith, & courage to face the things that God is allowing & putting in my path…but not in fear, but in reliance on the Lord. It is liberating to be able to take whatever step God asks because I know everything will work for the good of those who love the Lord.
(Remember- good does not mean nice houses & cushy cars…although I guess it might for some…but good means that in whatever I do…whether I live or die, I live for Christ & I die for Christ. Just as Paul stated- if I live it’s good because I can continue sharing the gospel. If I die, it’s good because I’ll be in eternity with Christ….so…be prepared for WHATEVER “good” means according to God’s will for you!)
4. Change me.
Two words. That’s all those are…but they’re huge. No one likes to change. Most people like themselves the way they are. But what if the way I am is what causes many of my issues…me trying to live life the way “me” wants & the way “me” expects…& when life doesn’t meet “me’s” expectations…then God must be doing it wrong…He has to change it. But the issue is the “me” & “my.” So this is one of the scariest prayers…I’m still very hesitant & reluctant to pray it…but my heart wants it desperately…I ask God to change me. Mold my heart the way He wants…not the way I want, because clearly I can’t change myself on my own.
Ha! In 2016, I also read the Chronicles of Narnia series by CS Lewis. (It was fantastic, btw). And this reminds me of the story of Eustace in the Voyage of the Dawn Treador when he is a dragon & he’s trying to remove his dragon skin as Aslan had directed him. He kept doing it over & over but he kept getting the same results…still a dragon. Finally, Aslan had to do it for him. His description was so perfect. He described it as a horrible, tearing pain, but one that hurt so good…like the painful satisfaction of ripping off a scab. (I know…super gross). But that’s what this prayer is. It’s painful but you’ll be surprised at the joy & satisfaction that comes with the results.
Now…I say these will revolutionize your year but really they will revolutionize your life! Am I little Ms. Perfect after 2016 & praying these prayers? No. Absolutely not. I don’t pray them all the time, I don’t pray them daily. Sometimes, I pray them out of order. I will continue to pray them & God will continue to change & shape me. Especially with these last 2 prayers…I’m somewhat terrified over them, but I am so excited to see where God calls me & what He asks me to do. These prayers are gradual prayers. Changes may not stir in your heart immediately. Everything won’t be resolved the next morning after you pray them. Things will happen in your life that will push this prayers from words to reality in your heart. The key, is that when you pray them, you pray them from the deepest, most sincere part of your heart, that you let go of the “me” reins in exchange for “Yours,” & that you pray these along with the guidance of God’s solid scripture. You can’t live on the Bible alone or you’ll become legalistic. You can’t live on prayer alone or you’ll become emotional. Your walk with the Lord has to be under His control & a balanced relationship guided by scripture & illuminated with prayer.
Happy New Year & be blessed!