Prayer: (n) a solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God.
Prayer. The sweetest moments we share with our God. The most difficult moments to find. The sweetest communion. The bitterest conversation.
The other day, I ran across a verse, high-lighted, underlined, and circled in my Bible. I completely forgot about this verse, and finding it again reminded me how much I need to treasure my prayer life.
In college, I ran across the verse right after finding out I didn't make the volleyball team. For me, that was a HUGE deal. I loved sports. And I poured my heart and soul into the preparation and try-outs.
I ran across this verse right after finding out from the coach that I missed the cut by 3 spots.
I was devastated.
But this verse was such a huge encouragement to give it all up to God. (And I did find out later exactly why I wasn't meant to make the team. I'm so thankful I didn't.)
Through this verse, I developed a theory.
The Prayer Bottle Theory. But I'll get back to that. And that particular verse. Stay tuned.
Lately I've been thinking a lot about prayer. And I've been reminded of a few things that hold true with my own life.
The lightning makes the road brightest.
"It's easy to be close to God in the good times. It's tough to be close to Him during the storms and dark time."
I can't even begin to list all the times I've heard this. From the pulpit. From friends and family. Devotionals. Etc, etc, etc...
Now maybe it's just me. Maybe there's something fundamentally twisted and backwards in my brain. I am double-jointed after all.
But for me, the times I am closest to God are the times I have to walk through the storms. For me, the times of uncertainty and fear are what draw me close to God. They are the times that send me running to His arms. The torrential downpours and thunder send me running to the warmth and love of my God with everything I have.
For that reason, although they are awful things to experience at the time, in hindsight, the storms are often one of the greatest blessings God can give us.
James 4:8 "Draw nigh to God and He will draw nigh to you..."
God is jealous of us.
Imagine telling your husband or wife on your wedding day that you love them... and then never telling them again.
Ouch. A healthy union 'twould not make.
So why do I think I can get away with this? I'm only fooling myself.
I need to have daily conversation with God. Over my coffee. On my drive to work. On my lunch break. As I drift off to sleep. Every minute of every day, I need to have a continual connection with Him. Without that, our relationship falters. And there is no greater tragedy.
I Thessalonians 5:17 "Pray without ceasing."
Prayer is the one thing that reveals how close I am to God.
"Standing in a church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in a garage makes you a car." Ain't that the truth.
At times, I can stand back and think, "I'm doing pretty good. Going to church. Reading my Bible. Being kind and trying to love others." But if I'm to be honest, the number one thing that determines how closely I'm walking with God is my prayer life. Church, good works, even reading the Bible are just lip service. They're easy to do. If I'm finding that there is distance between God and myself, the number one, and sometimes only place that it shows, is in my prayers.
The flow of conversation is disrupted. The words won't come. My mind wanders. My heart loses focus.
Sometimes it's difficult. Sometimes it doesn't flow. But I know that if I'm to get back in step with God, I have. To. Pray.
Psalms 145:18 "The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon Him, to all that call upon Him in truth."
The Prayer Bottle Theory
Remember that verse? (thanks for staying tuned!)
Revelation 5:8 "And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours (many translations read 'incense'), which are the prayers of saints"
And you're all like, ".......Whaaaaaa?" But the thing I pulled out of this verse was, "God has vials in heaven...full of my prayers? MY....PRAYERS?!" And I started to think of every prayer I ever gave up. The quick, thoughtless "Bless-this-mess-I'm-about-to-inhale-and-promptly-regret-eating-so-much" prayers to the "God-I'm-at-the-end-of-my-rope-and-I-can't-do-this-anymore" prayers. God treasures them all. Every word. The days I don't feel like anyone is listening. Like I'm at a dead end. Like I'm in the blackest night.
He takes all those prayers and treasures them. Stores them. Saves them.
Because He LOVES me, and actually cares what have to say.
So in my mind's eye, I see a bottle. Full of my prayers. Displayed in heaven. Treasured by the God of the universe. Who craves to hear from ME.
And I'm left with the question:
How full will my prayer bottle be?
How about you guys? Anything that you've found that encourages you to pray? Share your thoughts with us!