We're reading this book about prayer for our church called Fresh Wind Fresh Fire by Jim Cymbala. Last night we met with our small group to talk about the first few chapters. It seems I'm not the only one who struggles with prayer and that was a comfort to hear. Issues of trust, desire, guilt keep us from having the kind of prayer life we want to have. One of the group members asked what our definition of prayer was and in my head, my first response was, I define prayer as talking to God. But then as other people responded to their definitions of prayer, I thought, no, I want my definition to be a conversation with God. I want to listen more to him speak into my life and my heart. I long to hear from him. I've realized that I tend to avoid it for 2 reasons: 1) b/c of the pain of only experiencing silence & emptiness when I do try to listen, and 2) I fear the intimacy of Him actually talking to me. Will I hold on to my desire for that kind of relationship with God more than my fears of it? At least for today?
I'm also reading this other book called Leaving the Saints. It's about a woman who was sexually abused in the Mormon church and her journey to leave the Mormons in order to rediscover her faith in God. She wrote about prayer and how she was learning how much it's more about listening rather than demanding. In a beautiful section she writes about what she feels that God was saying to her during a particularly difficult time... she writes that God was telling her, "I am here. Always. I am always right here... The one place you can find me is the one place you have been afraid to go: your own heart. It will not be easy for you to go there. I will be here. Always. I will always be right here."
Reading that was comforting to me.
When there are discussions of prayer, the word "discipline" usually comes up. I cringe at the word, discipline. It keeps me away from prayer because it sounds like something you have to do rather than want to do. And wouldn't I want someone to talk to me and spend time with me b/c they want to rather than because they have to for one reason or another? I wonder if God feels that way too. He wants us to come to him because we want to, not because we're told we have to pray every morning for this amount of time, or we have to pray each time before we eat & if we don't God's going to choke us with the food we eat. Do I really believe God wants me to fear him more than desire him?
Another group member brought up the idea that Jesus must have longed to talk to God while he was on earth; it wasn't about him being disciplined to pray but being connected to his Father. Can you imagine the conversations they must have had... Dad, you won't believe what happened today... God, I was so angry when this happened... Father, this is too hard, please help me...
I so long to have that kind of relationship with God... like how excited I am to tell my husband the details of my day, like when I miss him when we're apart for too long. Why don't I have that with God? I guess I can't have that when I'm avoiding my own heart.