After being in the ministry for more than 16 years, I struggled to learn how to pray as just a woman who is also a wife, mother, and grandmother.
In the past I had allowed by own insecurity with God to influence my prayer life. I could pray for you but I spent a large portion of my prayer life struggling to receive God’s goodness in my life. There were far too many times that I tried to manipulate God into keeping his promises. Or I whined because he didn’t seem to be listening. And there was a very long season when I would actually tell God I know you can but I’m not sure if you will. (That was my way of having faith without having faith.)
For almost a year all I could do is pray like this…..
I began by asking for forgiveness, reminding God that though my sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. Isaiah 1:18
And then I would ask God to, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10
And I would end the prayer by asking, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation.” Psalm 51:12
I would end the prayer asking God to give Liberty and Raelynn a teachable spirit like Esther, a loving and loyal heart like Ruth, and that they would be like Jesus and be able to clearly hear God’s voice in the noise and chatter of this world.
And that was it! But recently something has changed. I still begin with the scriptures above followed by a few minutes of confessing my belief in God the Father who loves me with a perfect, unyielding, and unending love, confessing that my sins have been forgiven through the work of Jesus Christ on the cross, and confessing that I am filled with the fruit of the Holy Spirit. I follow this time of confession by sitting quietly to receive every good and perfect gift that God has for me.
And there is one other major change in my prayer life. I used to ask God to show me his heart for others by showing me what hurts his heart and where I could help. But lately I’ve been asking him to show me what brings him joy and what I can do to bring him joy.
In the past I would confess that the joy of the Lord is my strength. As one who has dealt with depression there often times when I couldn’t have found joy if my life depended on it. And then I would feel hopeless.
What if the strength that I’ve needed for so long is more about delighting in HIS joy rather than trying to find my own joy? Maybe I’ve been depressed because I was asking to see what breaks God’s heart when I had no strength to serve those I saw. (And does God’s heart really break?) I think that I spent so much of my time and energy focusing on the broken that I took on their pain rather than delighting in his joy when one heart changes.
God’s joy is my strength. I delight in God’s joy. God’s joy overflows from heaven to become my joy.