Occasionally I over-think things. Lately my over-thinking has to do with prayer. What exactly is it? What am I hoping to accomplish with it? When or how is it ok to do?
The main source of this is that I have a particular situation I have been praying about for quite some time. I have prayed over and over and over and have become quite frustrated with the results.
Then I had a friend who began praying for something similar. And she got her answer right away. She was on this big “Jesus high” about how prayer really does work and makes a big difference. I assumed she just got lucky. I didn’t think God was that concerned with her little prayer. I didn’t buy her “If you pray enough God gives you whatever you want.” I assumed her chalking this up to God moving was a misunderstanding of how God worked and what he cared about.
Plus, if she was right….
Why hadn’t God answered mine?
So the next time it came around for me to pray about my situation, I didn’t know what to do. I felt like maybe now I was trying to use God as a genie. If I held my tongue the right way, then he’d give me what I wanted. If I prayed unselfishly then he would say yes. Maybe I was right about my friend and God didn’t care so I need to reframe it as a more spiritual request. Maybe I should call her and ask her secret.
I was stuck and didn’t know how to pray.
So I didn’t. I just gave up. Whatever.
And once again – nothing.
Last week, the chance to pray came up again. I still didn’t know how to pray, but I didn’t feel like giving up was helpful either.
So I sat frustrated and just angrily said: “Here.”
And this was the most freeing thing I have prayed about it. This one word communicated absolutely everything I need to say. And it freed me from having to worry about all the other stuff I had let cloud my vision.
You take it. I am done. I don’t want the weight. I need you to work. I am unsure of how you work. But I trust that you will. I release it, so…
I received a beautiful freedom with it: knowing I didn’t have to carry the weight of how God feels about it or the outcome. Knowing I didn’t have to over-think how to pray about it. Knowing that it’s out of my hands. It was beautiful and freeing.
At the time of this writing, I don’t know that outcome. That sucks. I am still frustrated. But I don’t feel the weight of it. I am not carrying it like I was, and I have stopped over-thinking.
All of this led me to the nature of prayer.
Perhaps prayer is not necessarily just about getting God to do something for us. Perhaps prayer is God wanting to do something within us. Perhaps prayer is simply how we are supposed to make sense of our world. Perhaps it is the way God breaks us down at times. Perhaps prayer is the way God makes crystal clear all the ways we lean on things other than him. Maybe prayer has a lot less to do with changing God and a lot more to do with changing us.
When we simply offer our stress, worries, and even desires to God – he promises he will take care of it. It rarely looks like we want, but he promises to take care of it. He even promises that when we don’t know what to pray – he’ll take care of that too.
Sometimes it takes a break down to see that the most profound prayer we can pray is this one word prayer: “Here.” And sometimes, I think just the breakdown itself is what God wants to give us.
What have you been praying about or over-thinking? What would it look like to start praying, “here“?