Prayer for me is a living, breathing thing. It changes as I change…or rather as God changes me. It has evolved over time as I have lived and experienced life.
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the ways my prayers have changed over the years.
As a kid, I knew I was supposed to pray, so I did. (Rule follower to the max!) But I remember distinctly that I would pray and then spend quite a bit of time just laying in bed trying to listen for God. Just waiting to hear a word from him. I can’t say that I ever heard much, but I’m proud of the young me for realizing that I needed to listen to God and trying to do just that in my own little way.
As an adult, I have gone through a few periods of time where basically my only prayer is “Help me!” I had too much going on, was too upset, was too unsure of what to pray for, so “Help me!” seemed like the best thing to pray. Sometimes I would just repeat this over and over. Sometimes I would scream out to God in my head through desperation. I still love this prayer for when I don’t know what else to say. Those two words say a lot for me. I’m admitting I don’t know what to do. I’m admitting I’ve screwed up. I’m asking God to help in whatever way he thinks is the best. Not putting any of my desires out there. Realizing that God knows better than I do and that if I let him handle it, things are going to be alright.
Then over the last three years or so, my prayers have changed in another way. Frequently, I will use visualization. One Sunday in Bible class, we were talking about prayer and I felt like I really wanted to share my recent experience, but I chickened out. On the way home, I told Chris that I had felt this way in class, and he said I should have mentioned it. That it really could have helped people.
One night a few years ago, I was so upset, frustrated, and stressed out to the max. I decided that I was going to relax in the Jacuzzi and pray. While I was praying and asking God to help me, I felt like he was telling me that I needed to let him pull away layers of hardness around my heart. Hardness that I had spent a lifetime building around my heart in hopes that it would protect me. But I had come to a place where I realized I was never going to get better as long as the fort around my heart was standing. So, I was like “Alright, God! Start tearing off pieces!” And in my mind, I visualized him chiseling at the hardness, slowly taking away piece by piece. Some pieces took awhile and were really painful to remove. They were really stuck. Some chipped off pretty easily. God was so loving through this. I’m not sure how long I sat there doing this little visualization, but I can tell you that when it was done I was a changed person. I could even feel physically that my heart felt better. It felt raw. Parts of it felt like they were bleeding a little from the process of removing the hard stuff. I felt like God had worked a miracle in my life. I was free from a lot of junk I had been holding onto. I have repeated this specific visualization experience a few times over the last few years, and I find that it is useful for me to return to it. To make time to admit to God that I’m letting certain areas of my heart get hard again and allow him to do his work again!
And really recently, I have been asking God to make my heart and my love for people and him bigger. When I pray this, I visualize my heart spreading out and filling up the room, spreading and growing until it covers the whole world. I’m not sure yet how this is useful, but this has been part of my prayers. I’m sure someday I’ll look back and see how God used these prayers.
I love that prayer is a living, breathing thing. There are so many ways to do prayer, and God honors and loves them all! I would love to hear ways that your prayer life has changed over the years and ways that you pray! I encourage you to share your stores!