For roughly 18 years I sat in the same spot every Sunday, a lot of times unwillingly, while I watched my pastor preach the Gospel, pray, baptize, plead, cry, and faithfully shepherd the flock. While I didn’t know it then, God was using this to stir a deep conviction in my heart only because of His amazing grace.
One of the things I remember most vividly about those 18 years is his plead with church members, Christians, and Americans alike to pray. I didn’t know what that meant then. I had “prayed” so many times at church and with my family that I had an unhealthy and callused view of what prayer actually was. Week in and week out he would stand from the stage and ask people, with conviction that could only be given through the Holy Spirit, to just simply pray. Pray for our church, pray for our country, pray for our leaders, pray for the spread of the Gospel, and to just lift up our concerns to our Heavenly Father.
This last summer I had the opportunity to intern in the student ministry. While taking part in my weekly office hours, I got to attend the staff meeting where every one on staff got the book “Lord, Teach Me to Pray in 28 Days”. I didn’t know it then, but the Lord was going to use that book to water the seed that my pastor had so faithfully planted in my years of being under his teaching.
It has taken me 20 years of failures, downfalls, anxieties, insecurities, and above all lots and lots of grace from my Heavenly Father, but the Lord opened my eyes to the truth of what prayer really is and just how vital it is to everyone who proclaims to be a Christian.
This semester I have been given the opportunity to intern at a church in their middle school ministry. Initially, when I accepted the internship I thought it would be a good time of me pouring into the lives of middle school students to, Lord willing, help a middle school student not make some of the same mistakes I made when I was their age. While I hope the Lord is still doing that through me, my heart and soul have been pierced by a glorious, powerful, merciful, and gracious God.
Through preaching at this church, books I’ve read, and the reading of God’s living, breathing, Word, what my pastor pleaded with the church for so many years has finally made sense to me.
We serve an all powerful, all knowing, and ever-present God. He spoke the world into motion and formed each of us in our mother’s wombs. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last. He parted the Red Sea, delivered the Israelites out of Egypt, provided manna from Heaven, and is so Holy that He can not even be in the presence of sin. This is our God. This is the God that we serve. He is the most powerful being that ever was, is, and ever will be. How foolish of us to not want to go to Him in prayer. How prideful of us to think that we can get through a single day without crying out to the Almighty God, the Great I Am, Jehovah, and confessing that we need Him. It’s only by His grace that we even wake up in the mornings, and the breath in our lungs isn’t even ours to begin with.
The most amazing part about all of this, is that this all powerful God that we serve is also the most loving. He is so loving that even through our sin, disobedience, pride, and constant selfishness, He is the Author of Salvation. He provided a way for sinners like me to be in the presence of an Almighty God. He sent His Son, who humbled Himself to the point of death, even death on a cross, to be the Ultimate Sacrifice for my sins because a price for those sins had to be paid. He drank the full cup of God’s wrath so that I could taste the Living Water and drink from the Fountain of Life. How scandalous, how beautiful, how breath taking is this God who loves me.
I know what it means to pray now. It’s to confess my constant need to this all powerful Father day in and day out. It’s to ask for His Will to be done in my life even if I don’t understand it, because how foolish of me to question this omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent God. It’s to ask for His daily provision because I can do nothing apart from Him. It’s to lift my worries, my needs, my anxieties, and my petitions up to Him because if I ask anything according to His will, he hears me. It’s to ask the Lord to speak to me through His word because His Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. It’s to confess my sins to Him and repent because if I confess my sins, He is faithful and just, and will forgive me of my sins and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. It’s to bring glory to the God who is worthy of all glory and praise. It’s all of this and so much more. I truly believe I have only caught a glimpse of what it means to be in communication with my Heavenly Father through prayer. The most terrifying, encouraging, and inspiring part is that I know I have only scratched the surface of just how intimate, how important, and how precious this time with my Father is.
I know what it means to pray now. I understand what my pastor has been begging and pleading for, for so many years.