Prayer Even for People Who Do Not Pee Alone, Part 1

I don't see these butterflies resting much, but they do occasionally stop and breathe. 
[Philippians 4:6 NIV]  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

[1 Peter 5:7 NIV]  Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Say I have a problem. Eventually a helpful friend will ask me if I've prayed about it. 

Um....not much? But I've thought about it constantly, talked it over with friends, and spent a lot of worry on it. But prayed? Somehow that seems really hard.

Why haven't I prayed about it? The verses above make it clear that's the appropriate response! Somehow that seems really hard, though. 

One reason is that it's hard to slow down my mind enough once it starts spinning to get it pointed toward God. Another is that I feel like there's a certain way I ought to be praying about it--I think I ought to have a quiet space, a quiet hour, a tranquil series of moments, a quiet mind to be able to begin. I over-spiritualize things. 

Dedicated time alone is difficult and uncommon for me. My people follow me into the bathroom, they want a snack, they are fighting with siblings, facebook beckons, the phone rings, I am restless. I suppose I could summon all my strength and find a way to set firm boundaries with my 3-year-old, discipline effectively so everyone gets along, go on a permanent social media fast, turn off the phone, and quiet my mind all at once. But I haven't done that yet. Maybe that's why I expect I'll never be a giant in the faith. God bless you if you've done it; you are to be commended. 

No, right now, I'm going to have to ask God to meet me where I'm at: inside the poorly-run circus.

I'm going to suggest that prayer doesn't have to be something you wait to do. It's something that doesn't need to be set up, and you can do it right now, with no supplies. 

Here's me without praying about it: It’s as if I’m holding the problem or anxiety in my hands like play-doh, kneading it, trying to shape it. I keep holding tightly, working it over, determined to make something out of it that will make me feel better. 

But here's me praying about it: In the middle of that kneading, as soon as I think to do it, is to just hold it up as if for God’s inspection. “Lord, what do you think about all this? What should I do? How should I respond? I need help. Would you help me?” 

It’s not eloquent, not generally prolonged, and often feels very flat, but it is praying about it. 

God is so gracious. As he proved through Jesus, He’s so near, and so loving. Even our most feeble attempts to reach out to Him are met with a good Father’s love. It’s never a waste to give even a moment’s attention to Him, even if it’s only a moment. 

What happens then? For me? Sometimes nothing. I go back to the struggle feeling exactly the same, thinking the same, not knowing what to do exactly the same. 

Sometimes, I’ll hear in my heart a quiet answer to my brief lifting up.  

You need chocolate. 

Huh. Was that the voice of the Holy Spirit? ....I hope so! But I have no evidence of that whatsoever. Probably it's just me (which doesn't mean I don't need chocolate).  

If I keep listening, though, I may hear something else once I get past or have satisfied the chocolate cravings. It’s not always the solution, but it’s an invitation to explore the conversation further. It’s easiest to realize I might be hearing God's voice when I recognize it as a phrase or idea from scripture. Then I know my footing is more solid. "God, I'm still here. Please help me!" 

I will not leave you nor forsake you. 

Huh. I know that’s biblical. Now what? 

When I remember a phrase like that and decide to lock in, I start with where it came from in the Bible. If I don’t know where I've heard it before, I can turn to a resource like and look it up. I’m often encouraged by what I find, and by the end, through the encouragement, conviction, or exhortation, I can know the Holy Spirit has been talking to me using the scripture. I prayed about it! And God answered. That's so much better than having waited until I am having a personal week-long cloistered retreat...which would be awesome but has never happened to me.

(to be continued)

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