…Lord, teach us to pray…
Luke 11:1 (ESV)
I went jogging in the peaceful coolness of the early morning. The sun was shining through the trees, the breeze was hitting my face, my ears were filled with sounds of morning songbirds, crowing roosters, bawling cows, and crunching gravel beneath my feet. I don’t like exercising, but I do like being fit—and I like having solitary time to focus my thoughts and tune my heart to God, His creation, His Word. Sometimes I sing psalms while I exercise, sometimes I pray, sometimes I simply weep and trust that the Spirit intercedes for me even when I am speechless.
I love to pray, to commune with my Father—and I’ve been doing it for my entire life. Conversing with Him is as natural as conversing with my earthly father, for I have known both of them that long. But there are times when I don’t really know what to say to my dad, or don’t need to say anything to be heard. Sometimes we just catch each other’s eyes and know the meaning behind it, deep in the other’s heart. Sometimes it is sob-filled, teary phone calls where I’m certain my words are somewhat incoherent, but I need to say them, and he is the one I want to hear them. Sometimes we have long conversations, giving and taking in the banter equally. And sometimes I am so at a loss for words, for whatever reason, that I just don’t even want to begin the conversation.
And I find that my conversations with God parallel these things.
Just a month ago, my morning prayers were filled with almost senseless begging, pleading to God with repetitive requests and endless questions, desperately wondering what He was doing, why I had to suffer this way, practically asking to wrestle blessings from His hands. If you had been listening in, the refrain would have sounded a lot like, “please God! Oh please God! Please, God, just… oh please!” My heart filled in the rest and my tears were the chorus. I could almost sense the robins, the deer, and the squirrels hushing—I imagined it was because the Lord knew the sacredness of this conversation with Him where I was so helpless, and even His woodland creatures hushed their breath and stilled their actions as I jogged by so I could cry and He could listen. This morning, as my feet carried me forward, my heart cried to my Father again. Today was one of the more eloquent days, with fully formed sentences and coherent requests, littered with lists of thanks for His graces, and I honestly sought Him on behalf of others rather than on behalf of myself.
The Lord is with me in all of these things. He hears me in each of these situations, and every one in between. He hears me when I plead with Him on the ultrasound table, He sees me rip out my hair while I wail in grief in an exam room, He bottles my tears in the bathroom over negative pregnancy tests, He embraces my body and soul as I grieve over death and as I expectantly long for reunions in heaven. He hears me on behalf of my suffering friends and my grieving family members.
As I continue to grow in my relationship with my Heavenly Father, I want to deepen my understanding of prayer, enrich my conversations with Him, and learn how to glorify Him with my praise, my requests, my stutters, my tears, my shouts of joy, my cries of anguish. I often sing the Lord’s Prayer, and then take each of the six petitions therein, expounding upon one at a time in spoken prayer, filling out the shape of what Jesus exemplified for us. I often also use the book of psalms to help shape my prayers. I want to embrace asking for God’s will to be done with my whole heart and entire mind. In Matthew 26, Jesus Himself cried out to God as He anticipated His own crucifixion, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will” (ESV). It is perfectly honorable to follow the example of Christ, and ask the Lord to take this bitter cup of suffering from me—and, trust me, I do that regularly! I’m nigh well sick of the recurrent pregnancy loss journey, and He hears about it from my lips often enough. But even when I ask Him to take away miscarriage from me, when I beg Him to grant us living children, when I come to Him asking for wisdom in pursuing medical avenues and uncovering health complication—even in the midst of those requests—I want to prefer His will over mine. Sometimes I just plain ask Him, “give me the desire to prefer Your will, because honestly, I don’t understand how this plan is better than what I asked of You!” I ask Him to grow me up into His will, into loving His will, into desiring His will, into embracing His will.
So as I continue seeking God’s face in the mornings—as I quiet my soul before Him while the body He gave me exercises in the midst of the nature He placed around me, presenting not only my words but also my body before Him—may He teach me how to speak with Him, glorify Him, make requests of Him, and live fully in communion with Him—not because I want to get things from Him, but because I want Him—and I desire to learn from Him how to pray so that I can get more of Him.
© Melissa Joy, 2014
Written originally for Mommies With Hope, Melissa Joy seeks to grow in grace and wisdom alongside her husband Steven, while pursuing joyful domesticity by nurturing her home and family. The blessing of motherhood and the blessing of growth in Christ have intersected in a beautiful and challenging way for her, as she embraces being Mommy to twelve beloved children: 3 in her arms, 9 in the heavenly choir. The joy she finds in her family, homemaking, music, writing, ministering to those in grief, and seeking to be a pillar of loving strength in her home can be seen unveiled at Joyful Domesticity.