Kneeling beside my bed, I folded my hands and carefully recited my nightly prayers.
Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
If I should die before I ‘wake,
I pray the Lord my soul to take.
Some nights my mom and/or dad knelt beside me and with heads bowed we prayed, looking forward to the next day.
This simple act brought comfort and normality to my bedtime routines. The recitation of the prayers provided a foundation for my early understanding of praying.
The older I got, the more I wished for something over and above the routine. My prayer expectations went beyond the rote and familiar prayers of childhood and turned toward personal conversations.
I began to realize that routine prayers were perfect for childhood, but intentional time and a heart turned toward God encouraged my adult yearnings.Prayer is the space for hopeful expectations to grow into the blessing of what is yet to come. #TellHisStory Click To Tweet
Prayer is the space for hopeful expectations to grow into the blessing of what is yet to come.
For many years, I didn’t believe I was capable of more than praying the prayers that others had recited for generations. As time went on, I stood in groups of people willing to pray out loud for the needs of those standing on the fringe. The shift was subtle but sudden and a new way opened its doors for me to deepen my relationship with God.
I began to believe that there was life beyond routine recitations.
Timothy Keller in Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God speaks of prayer like this:
Prayer is continuing a conversation that God has started through his Word and his grace, which eventually becomes a full encounter with him.
Prayer is the pinnacle on which my day begins and ends. When I stood in the groups of people and listened to the intimate way in which they talked to God, I began to explore prayer in a new way.
I wanted what they had!
A time of exploration and one on one conversations began as I dived deeper into my time with God. No longer were rote prayers enough. Instead, the spilling of the deepest parts of my heart became commonplace, but within the secret place of my wonderings with God.
Praying became a time of worship as words of gratitude, praise, and desires flowed in a rhythmic-like chorus. I slowly stepped out of my inner secret place and shared the words that God prompted me to pray for others. Hesitantly at first and then with more courage, prayer reflected a time of blessing and healing. The uncertainty I felt for years turned toward a reliance on God to provide the words needed at just the right time.
What has your prayer journey looked like? Did you grow up praying and if so, what are your memories of childhood prayers?
As I read these words from Matthew, I paused, hearing God say He is with me and you. As I pray, God prays too. Take a moment and let these words flow over you in a promise from God and remember deep calls to deep.
But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. Matthew 6:6 ESV
My evolution of prayer expectations is a journey that continues to grow and change as my relationship with God deepens. The process does not look like a one-sided conversation, but a leaning in to listen and learn from the One who revolutionizes our prayer life.
We become stronger and more courageous when we spend time with God in prayer. Bob Sorge, author of Secrets of the Secret Place, refers to it as a secret place where we talk and listen to God.
As I wrap up today, let me encourage you with these words from Bob Sorge:
It’s a great delight to talk to God, but it’s even more thrilling when He talks to us. I’ve discovered that He has more important things to say than I do. Things don’t change when I talk to God; things change when God talks to me. When I talk, nothing happens; when God talks, the universe comes into existence. So the power of prayer is found, not in convincing God of my agenda, but in waiting upon Him to hear His agenda.
Blessings as we pray together in community for the miracle of the birth of Jesus!
There will not be a linkup on Christmas or New Year’s Day. I will see you for Tell His Story again on January 8.
Did you know I put a call out to all members of the Tell His Story community to become a guest writer in the New Year? The third Tuesday of each month will be devoted to YOU! Your words are important to share as we bring glory to God. Click HERE to find the sign up form.
And, if you have three minutes will you take a look at this Advent video. Just me sharing some thoughts about the Third Week of Advent. 🙂