In his book The Meaning of Prayer Harry Emerson Fosdick has this to say about the “hindrances and difficulties” of prayer: “It does cost to win a life that really can pray.” The truth of this really hits me as I sit here writing to you about Jesus. I guess for me, prayer is the place and time where Jesus takes His place in my life. It is that moment of meeting where the Lord becomes Lord of me. Sometimes I bring desires to prayer that are actually good, but cannot be accomplished because something stands in the way. Usually for me it is because I am trying to jump ahead of the Lord and pray for things that He isn’t ready to give (primarily because I am not ready to receive). To pray further into His will for my life, I have to go further into His will. Usually I will come to Him with my agenda on the prayer list. And He will quietly listen, letting me sit with it. I will leave feeling nothing has been accomplished. And then He will come and visit with me and share what is on His heart: I pray for measurable things; He invites me to know the measure of His love. I pray for immediate results; He invites me to immediately rest in His provision, trusting Him for the rest. I pray to go places and do things; He simply says, “being with Me is the most important place and listening to My voice is the most important thing.”
Not long ago I began chewing on a piece of scripture that caught my attention: Be still and know that I am God (Psalm ). As I dug into the meaning of this scripture, I discovered that stillness is more that not moving. To be still is to “slacken.” Some of the words used to capture the essence of its meaning include: abate, cease, fail, (be) faint, be (wax) feeble, forsake, idle, leave, let alone (let go, let down), be slothful, (be) weak. (See Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, entry 7503 for raphah, in the Hebrew Dictionary). This word “still” is derived from a Hebrew word that means “to mend (by stitching), … to cure” (Strong’s, entry 7495 for rapha, in the Hebrew Dictionary). What a powerful message! As we come to God’s presence in prayer, our best praying happens only when we relinquish our control, surrendering to God fully. In that we find the very thing we are trying to manufacture by our own efforts: healing, mending, well-being, a cure for what’s wrong. The big question is: Am I letting go of every conception I have of what is supposed to happen when I come to prayer and simply letting Jesus be who God sent Him to be, my Savior? Is the reason I am not seeing any fruit from my prayers, because I am fighting against Him instead of flowing with Him?
Over the last few weeks my experience of prayer has deepened. And an amazing thing has happened. As I have surrendered to that place of being held in the Lord’s hands, His power has become manifest in my life in ways I could not imagine. I am seeing Him show up in my daily life, leading my day, directing my plans, and even giving me unexpected Divine appointments that accomplish far more than I ever could on my own. It is truly awesome to see what happens when we create space in our lives for the Lord to work. He still isn’t doing things the way I would have Him, but His way is way more satisfying and is accomplishing much more. I guess it is always about trust more than it is about doing.
Hope you are able in this time of “Fall Break” to truly take a break and be still before the Lord. Give Jesus an opportunity to speak to your heart; listen for a change. You will be so glad you did.