Most of you know that I've been reading Beth Moore's book So Long Insecurity. It's been a great journey reading through, tackling issues in my life, seeing my weaknesses, and pursuing strength with Christ. And I'm only halfway done! The book is 350 pages long, and I've been trying to go slowly and let it sink in.
I recently read through the prayer chapter. If you've read the book, you know which one I mean. Beth writes out a prayer for us to pray, and add to as we see fit, asking God for forgiveness, for help, and for dignity and strength. Beth herself says she's not usually comfortable with putting that sort of thing in a book, but she felt it important, vital even, and wrote with the Holy Spirit's guidance to pen a prayer that could be for all women in all situations.
I'm not big into the whole guided-prayer thing. The most famous is "the prayer," the prayer that people pray to start a relationship and a dialog with Jesus, or (as colloquial Christianese has it) "let Jesus into your heart." I don't even know "the prayer." I'm all for starting a lifelong conversation with Jesus, but I don't think there's a formula for how you start that kind of thing. In fact, I think a lot of times formulas are more of a hindrance. We're so afraid that we'll say the wrong words; but Jesus doesn't care about what words you use. He cares about where you're at and where your heart is at concerning him. He wants to talk with you about what you're feeling and thinking. Even if it's anger, hurt, or bitterness. He's an honest God, not a tribal god.
But God gave me the grace to put skepticism aside for Beth Moore's insecurity prayer; I guess that just shows how desperately I know I need this. I took some time alone and prayed my way through the prayer, adding details, coloring things, reminiscing, pleading. It was a fantastic time of baldfaced prayer with my God. Maybe sometimes we do need a little help to put words to the thoughts of our hearts.
Things are already improving in response to my prayer. I'm starting to have the strength to perceive, and to live, more of my dignity. Not because I said any magic words or because God only listens when you pray the way Beth wrote it down. God answers because I asked--whatever mode of asking that came in. And I didn't just ask, "help me with this!" though that works too. But we see God work more when we're paying attention more, and Beth's prayer, detailed and deep, helped me see the big picture and pay attention to all the little details of how this insecurity issue affects my life. Not only will we see God's response if we're actually paying attention, I think God sometimes only responds when we pay attention. He doesn't want us to miss the lesson, or else his stepping in to help this time won't have lasting impact. Change isn't a result of my efforts nor of His, but of us working as a team, in a relationship. I have to be open and active in the change, or else none of what God does will stick in my life. It's the interface of faith and works that John and James talk about so much.
If you are in a rough spot with anything, no matter if it's big or small, I encourage you to pray about it this week. I challenge you to not just say a rote prayer (c'mon, I know we all get into a rut with our prayers), but to really look deeply and express everything that's going on and all that you need from God. Be honest and humble. Start by asking him to help you express it eloquently, if that's your difficulty. Pray, and then pay attention. See what God does and even write down what you learn. Chances are, you'll still be learning lessons and seeing positive changes in your life next week and next month.
One prayer is all takes to change a life. Because prayer is a conversation with God, and God is all we need.