Gratitude Day 636
Psalm 54:2 – Listen to my prayer; turn your ears to my cry!
“I don’t think God listens to my prayers anymore.”
More than one discouraged and disappointed person has uttered these words to me. Most often, something is going on in their life. They feel God has stopped listening to their prayers and/or abandoned them.
It’s a very lonely place to be.
Too often when we’re in this place, it’s difficult to find ways to be grateful. We simply feel beat up.
These are the times when prayer can be so beneficial. Yet, prayer is one of those things that we never really master. Just about the time we might be getting close, we probably commit a sin of lack of humbleness and then find ourselves in need of more prayer.
The good news is Jesus gives us a whole bunch of insights into prayer. If we carefully look at his time on earth, we discover lots of really good prayer tips and tricks. Here are three of those regular and consistent attributes of Jesus’ prayers.
He was honest. Often, we skip this step. We think that God already knows how and why we feel a certain way and do not feel the need to get right with God.
Solid relationships are built on honesty. A relationship with God is no different. Even for myself, it’s difficult to be brutally honest with God. I only give part of the story or part of my feelings. If you only shared part of your feelings with a spouse or a child or a friend, would you really be investing in the relationship as you should?
It’s no different with God.
It’s OK to pray for what we want. To ask for the difficult and big ask. Does this mean we’ll get what we want? No. But at least, we were honest with God.
I often have been asked about how to be honest with God when we can’t see God. Imagine simply talking with Jesus as you pray. You’re sitting on the porch or at the kitchen island, pouring out your heart and soul to him. This is the kind of honesty that God yearns for from you. When we allow ourselves to be drawn closer to God, we feel less alone.
Jesus trusted God. Maybe we’re not sure there really is a God who can come into a situation and change it. Jesus never questioned if God was with him. He knew it and expected it.
So, how we can know there is a God? Think of a time when you experienced God. In some small or big way, you knew God was with you. Where have you experienced God? How did God reach out to you?
How God reaches out to you may not be the same as how God comes to me. And this is OK! It is in those moments when you experienced God that encourage us to continue to trust God. Our trust can be flawed and challenged and unsure. This is OK. Jesus tells us our faith only needs to be the size of a mustard seed. This is big enough. This is enough trust.
Jesus accepted and answer, even if it wasn’t the answer he preferred. When Jesus is in the Garden of Gethsemane on the last night of his life, he prays, “Thy will be done.” But let’s be honest. Most of the time, we want to answer our prayer of “My will be done.”
We don’t always get what we want. And this is probably a good thing! It’s human nature to complain when a prayer doesn’t get answered the way we want. Like most complaining, I’m not sure it really accomplishes much.
There are plenty of forces in this world that can draw us closer to God as well as those who pull us away from God. Complaining is one of those forces that pulls us away. When we have our heart turned towards God, we see that it’s a good thing that we don’t always get what we pray for.
One idea that I use to help me keep perspective of unanswered prayer is to appreciate and use gratitude in my life EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. I begin the day expressing gratitude for where I saw God in the previous day. This reminds me that I’m not the person who has it the worse in the world. There are a whole bunch of people with more trying situations than I have right now. Yes, my baggage IS my baggage. But there is always at least three things to be grateful for.
Prayer is something that takes a lifetime to explore without ever really becoming an expert. Yet, it’s a wonderful tool to help us examine ourselves, God and our relationship with God. God yearns to draw us close, be with us and provide comfort on good and challenging days. I pray we yearn for the same relationship.
For the ability to communicate with God in prayer, I am grateful.
Dear God – It’s easy to blame You for unanswered prayer or when we feel far away from You. But the truth is that unless we spend time with you, we can’t deepen our relationship with You. May we see how prayer is one of the most important ways to spend time with You. Hang out with You. Get to know You. Get to know ourselves. May we not run away from challenging times put simply run towards You. Amen.
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