Praying for God to change others

Have you ever prayed for God to change someone? Maybe they were being a thorn in your side. A royal pain. Maybe you felt like they needed a good, swift kick in the pants. Or maybe you just thought you knew there was something better out there for them.

I used to pray for God to change others…until I realized instead of God changing the other person, He was changing me.

Every. Single. Time!

It’s like he wasn’t concerned about changing the other guy at all! Come on, God!!

He would slowly change my attitude and perspective little by little. It would sneak up on me. God can be tricky like that!

Sometimes I would be the one to fall flat on my face and then realize I was the one with the problem all along. Sometimes after a long period of time, I would look back and see changes in myself along the way and recognize what God had been up to all along.

A few days ago, I was really upset about something. And where I would normally pray for God to change the other person, I found myself asking God to change my heart. To work on me. This is huge for me! I’m normally not that smart! 🙂

I’m finally realizing it’s not my business to try to change others. I am responsible only for myself. I can only do the best I can in difficult situations and believe that God will see me through them. And be open to learning through experiences.

So while it’s easier to hope and pray for others to change, I’m learning that most of the time, I’m the one who needs change. And while it still kind of irks me that I’m the one who has to change, I’m thankful for the lessons I’m learning. For the ways that God is teaching me to think, act and love differently.

What experiences have you had with this?

Doing Prayer Differently

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!

I crave authenticity

I crave authenticity, honesty and truth. I’ve had my fill of the other stuff, and I yearn to be around people who are real. Who aren’t afraid to be themselves. And I am trying to be real too.

Authenticity is different. It is rare. It is beautiful.

God wants us to be authentic too.

I’ve always been pretty open and honest with God in my prayers, but lately I’ve been trying to step up my authenticity even more. I think God wants that from me and is asking/pushing me to be more authentic. He just wants me to be myself.

A few weekends ago, I decided that I wanted to spend some time talking to God out loud just like I was talking to a friend in the room. I realized pretty quickly on that I sounded really churchy, and I didn’t like it. I don’t think there is anything necessarily wrong with churchy language, but it bothered me. Because that’s not really me. That’s not really how I would talk to my best friend. God knows me and likes me for who I am, so I think he wants me to be me with him.

So I changed up my language a little bit throwing some things like “God you are freaking awesome”, etc. in there, and I was good. I felt better.

Now understand that in changing my language a little, I’m still praising God. Honoring and respecting him. I’m just doing it in my own personal way. When you grow up in church, it’s hard to break the mold on what you’ve always known or done. We think there’s only one right way to do things. But it’s OK to change things up. It’s healthy and a part of growing to want to try doing things a little differently.

I’m glad God loves me just the way I am and yearns for a closer, more authentic relationship with me. I want that too!

And that is freaking awesome!

How do you find yourself working toward more authenticity in your walk with God?

Don’t worry. Instead pray.

I worry a lot.  I always have.  I have gotten a little better about it over the years.  I don’t worry about all the small stuff anymore, but when I have bigger things to worry about than normal I almost get lost in my worry.  At times it has consumed me.  It’s a horrible feeling.

On the way to work/daycare yesterday, the kids and I were listening to the Kingdom Rock VBS cd, and the song Pray About Everything came on.  I’ve heard this song a million times, but it really struck me yesterday.  Here are some of the lyrics:

Don’t worry about anything
Instead pray about everything
Tell God what you need
Thank God for all He has done
Don’t worry
Instead Pray
Don’t worry
Instead Pray

What if every time I am worrying I make the decision to start praying?  Would would happen if I really did this?  And it hit me that  this might just be crazy enough to work!  To do the trick for me!

If I really did train myself to start praying any time I start worrying about something, I can see how this could totally change my life and my way of thinking.  If I really get into the habit of doing this, I just might be able to let things go!

I heard a quote a few days ago that was something like When you pray about your worries, it is impossible to not feel better.

So I am not going to try to train myself to pray as soon as I start worrying.  I’m sure this will be something I have to work on for a really long time.  I’m a slow learner when it comes to stuff like this, but I’m going to try to make it happen!