Step 3: Pray. Seek. Receive.
PSA: You don’t have to use fancy language in your prayers. They don’t need to be long and drawn out. You don’t need to talk to God like you’re addressing the Queen of England or the President or anything like that. He’s not going to ignore you for not being “formal enough.” Talk to God like you’re talking to a friend, your closest confidante. That’s exactly what He is!
Once I finally realized that, my prayer began to flow in a way I had never experienced. I used to struggle with prayer all the time. Often, I felt like I simply couldn’t pray. I didn’t know the words, and not in such a way that I needed the Spirit to intercede for me. I had this vision of God a huge king sitting on this massive throne that I was kneeling at the bottom of – a tiny ant at the foot of a giant. Let me tell you what: that vision is incredibly restrictive! Because of the way I viewed God, I couldn’t feel comfortable talking to Him. Only when I let go of that rigid, constricting vision of God did I discover how easily I can speak to my Father. My life hasn’t been the same since.
Pray without ceasing. I know that sounds like a daunting task, but it really isn’t as impossible as it seems. Did you know you can “text” with God? Praying isn’t about these big, long, fancy prayers you so often hear in church. You can pray in even the smallest moment in so many ways: thank Him for providing a close parking spot when it’s raining, thank Him for keeping you safe on your way home, ask Him to help you get through a tough day, or simply acknowledge the beauty of His creation. All it takes is a short, “Hey, God, I just wanted to say you’re awesome.” The important thing is to constantly maintain communication between you and the Father. Relationships don’t build in silence.
This is probably where I struggle the most. It is so easy to let life overtake everything. I don’t know how many times I’ve gotten so caught up in the stress and chaos of the day that I’ve woken up the next morning to realize I didn’t even speak to my Father once throughout the day. I’ll be the first to tell you that finding the time and making the effort to pray even in the tiniest of moments feels like work at first, but I will also be the first to tell you what an amazing difference keeping that open line of communication makes.
My days, even the worst of them, are so much easier to get through when I’ve spoken to God. My toughest moments are not as tough as they used to be because I’ve built a strong bond between my everyday life and the comfort and peace of Jesus. Once I took the time and made the effort to strengthen my day-to-day relationship with God, I found depending on God for the peace, strength, and comfort He has always promised became significantly easier. Now, where I used to constantly panic in the face of my anxieties, I breathe deeply and remember that all my anxieties are already in His hands; I have absolutely nothing to worry about.
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 (NLT)
Seek God with all of you. Imagine you are in desperate need of a washing machine. You know your friend has one, but you never come over to use it or even bother to ask her if you can use her washer. Imagine that that friend all the while has been sitting next to you virtually yelling, “I have one for you, not just to use but to have! All you need to do is come get it!” And yet, you still don’t come. You just sit and complain about not having a washer and how badly you need one.
Well, that’s how it is with God when we need something but we don’t come to Him – and I don’t mean just saying, “God, I need this. Thanks,” and expecting that to be it. I mean putting forth the effort not only to voice your need to Him but to seek His help with all your heart. God doesn’t work half-heartedly, so we shouldn’t give Him half the attention or the effort. When we fully seek God and His will in our lives, beautiful and amazing things will happen. God has a fantastic plan for each and every one of our lives; we just need to seek Him to find them.
Receive whatever God has for you, even if it’s not what you expected. Prayer is not only about expressing our needs and our voices. It is a two-street of communication between God and us. That means in all our prayers we need to take time to listen for God’s response.
Have you ever someone talk at you instead of talking to you? You know how frustrating that feels? Well, when we forget to listen to God because we spend all our prayer time asking Him for things and telling Him everything that’s wrong with our lives, that’s exactly what we’re doing: talking at Him. I’m pretty sure He doesn’t appreciate it any more than you or I do. Remember to be quiet and listen during your prayers so that you can receive any word the Lord has for you.
We pray with expectation that God hears and answers our prayers. We must be careful not to restrict that expectation to mean we expect God to answer prayers exactly the way we want Him to answer them. Our will is not His will, and we should desire His will to be done above all else. Our greater is coming, but we cannot easily receive our greater if we decide we’d rather cling to the mediocre we can already grasp. The easy choice is rarely the best choice for us. In all things, pray for His will to rule over your own that you do not miss out on everything He has prepared for you.