Does Prayer Work?


Philippians 4:4-7 says:
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
This is a great passage, and we have all heard plenty of lessons and messages about prayer that are based on this verse. It’s great! So great, it almost seems too good to be true…
Is it?
Giving everything to God through prayer seems like a good idea, and something that a good Christian would do…
But does it work?
I have decided that for the next week, I am going to devote myself to living out Philippians 4:4-7. My specific goals are:
 
  1. Whenever I feel stressed, frustrated, anxious, or depressed, I will pray.

 

  1. If I am angry or upset with someone, I will pray for (and potentially with) them. 
 
  1. If I am anxious or nervous about a performance or a rehearsal or project, I will pray beforehand with the people I am working with.
 
  1. I will pray when I first wake up in the morning and before I go to sleep.
I will journal the process and the results throughout the week. I am nervous and excited to see what will happen over the next seven days. To God be the glory!
life-is-likea-cup-of-tea222

Day 1. Thursday evening.

All righty. Now that I got that nice intro out of the way–
I am really nervous about this.
I am convicted to do this experiment… but as I was cleaning my dorm room, I actually started thinking about its implications. I will have to share my prayers, my feelings, my life. I will have to be vulnerable. And that makes me nervous.
So, determined to start well, I prayed:
“Please make this week go by smoothly with almost no negative emotions. I don’t want to have to show people what I feel or how I pray.”
Selfish, I know. And I know He’s not going to grant that request, because for me to feel no negative emotion I think would mean to remove my amygdala entirely. I certainly don’t want that, because even though pain is the worst, it is worth it because I like to feel things, and my feelings— positive and negative— bring me closer to Him. I wouldn’t trade that for anything.
So now I pray instead that I will be reminded and convicted to pray everyday. And I pray, no matter what the results, that You will be glorified. Because that’s really all I want.
*・゜・*:.。.:・*:.・*.。
“I have too much to do and not enough time to do it all. I want to be the best at everything, and to be on top and in control of my life. But I know what I need is to give it to You, and let You use my life how You want. I’m sorry for making stupid choices and never asking for Your opinion, and if You would like me to suffer the consequences, then right on! I deserve it! But through it please still help me see the ways I can glorify You. I want to use everything— even how I feel— for You. I want this to be for You, not for me, I don’t want to have anything to prove anymore. I’m done. Please take it— my time and my energy. Use it however You want. Today I’m letting it go. (And hopefully tomorrow too but we’ll see.)”

Day 2. Friday.

I woke up a sluggish monster, as usual.
“Mmmuuurrrggg…”
I did not remember to pray until about halfway through my shower, and at that point, I just prayed:
“Oh Lord, help me. Make this a good day. I’m so tiiiiiiireeeed…”
*・゜・*:.。.:・*:.・*.。
This morning I kept thinking about the Sunday School lesson my friend and I have to give on Sunday. I was nervous, so every time I thought about it or worked on it, I prayed that God would glorify Himself through me and help me know what to say.
*・゜・*:.。.:・*:.・*.。
“LORD GOD.”
“THIS IS STUPID.”
“WHY CAN’T THEY STOP TALKING.”
“WHY AREN’T THEY LISTENING TO ME.”
“GOD. I HATE THIS. I HATE THIS. I–“
“UGH. Please help me. I can’t do this. I’m so mad. I hate them, I hate this, I want to quit. I just don’t want to do this. Give me patience, give me love somehow. I need You to live through me because I am just full of pride and anger right now and I don’t want to be but I can’t not feel this. Help me. Help. I can’t. Take it from me. Give me patience. Give me patience please. Help me.”
*・゜・*:.。.:・*:.・*.。
“God, you’re people are so special and so intelligent and amazing— but why do they also have to suck so much? I hate putting up with this. I don’t want to do this anymore. Please give me the will to live and the patience to keep putting up with it. I don’t want to feel like this anymore. Forgive me.”
*・゜・*:.。.:・*:.・*.。
The day got worse and worse as it went on. I kept finding more and more reasons to be angry at people. Everyone and anyone who decided to enter my life today, whether briefly or extensively— they did it all wrong, I guess. They all rubbed me the wrong way.
One of my goals is to pray for people I get mad at– as you can imagine, today I prayed a lot. It was kind of ridiculous, actually, how much I prayed. I’m sorta proud of myself. I prayed blessings and goodness upon people though there was only fire and brimstone in my soul.
Thankfully the Lord is more forgiving and loving than I am. And I sincerely hope He heard my secretly angry prayers and answered them, despite it not being what my heart really desired in the moment (even though I was honestly trying my hardest to let go and be forgiving, but it’s hard, you know? But “fake it till you make it”, right? God sees the heart. I’m sure He understands.)
What I just don’t understand now, though, is why I keep becoming like this. Why am I so emotional? Why am I so bitter? I try not to be, but it seems like it’s ingrained into me. I can be called Miss Johnston and Green Bean and all sorts of nicknames (not that I have very many), but at the end of the day I am still Mary.
Why can’t I change? Why do I feel so distant from the ones I love? Why can’t I be Naomi?
Is it to push me towards You? To make me reliant on You, and not myself or others?
I mean, I guess it’s working…
but it’s hard.
I pray, but it’s hard when my heart is heavy.

Day 3. Saturday.

“Amazing Grace
How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch
Like me
I once was lost
But now I’m found
Was blind but now I see.”
Amazing Because It Is by the Almost is the only thing I could pray this morning after 4ish hours of sleep.
*・゜・*:.。.:・*:.・*.。
I feel as if praying for peace is like praying for patience: God will provide frustrating situations that you can’t control to force you to rely on Him.
I tried to pray this morning but I was so groggy and angry and disappointed. I prayed until I fell asleep in the car, and when I woke up I couldn’t quite remember why I had been so riled up about the situation. I knew that I had been let down and I remembered the frustration, but I felt willing to give it up. Praise the Lord for that.

Day 4. Sunday.

I woke up early to get in the shower, only to find someone (very dear to me) had gotten there before me. So I sat in our host family’s dining room and waited, taking the time to pray for the someone and the day. I was super sleepy so it was a mushy, nonsense prayer, but I think God gets it.
*・゜・*:.。.:・*:.・*.。
I prayed with the team before we began the worship service, and it was really uplifting. Our prayers were answered, it seems, because the service went amazingly well. And I felt so much peace while we played, I was actually able to relax and worship the Lord too, which almost never happens.
If those prayers were answered, maybe my other prayers will be too.

Day 5. Monday.

Prayers for quizzes and a mountain of homework. Prayers for sanity and definitely for transcendent peace.
*・゜・*:.。.:・*:.・*.。
“God, thank You for giving me the opportunity to get it all off my chest. I’m sure we can be on our way to fixing it, but… it really hurts. I didn’t want this, but I don’t know how to stop feeling the way I do.
Why did You have to make me this way? Why couldn’t I have been a normal person with normal feelings? I didn’t ask to be so sensitive or compassionate. If You had given me the choice…
Who am I kidding? I probably would’ve chosen it still. The pain is worth it, isn’t? To feel so deeply and to love so broadly and to forgive so easily? Is it worth it?
I guess so. But the pain is still pain.
Please heal us. Please show me how to fix it.”
*・゜・*:.。.:・*:.・*.。
“Thank You for fixing it. I can’t take credit, not this time. If this is what You do, I always want it Your way. Please never let me have my way again.
Thank You for hearing me. Please keep fixing my life and creating in me a heart like Yours.”

Day 6. Tuesday.

I am not very good at praying in the mornings. I just murmur really cliche requests and blessings like “make it a good day” and “I hope this test goes well” and “please bless so-and-so and make them happy today”, et cetera. I don’t even do that though, sometimes I just sing. Today it was Out of Hiding by Steffany Gretzinger.
*・゜・*:.。.:・*:.・*.。
Today was unbelievably peaceful. I hate it. It’s so cliche. I wasn’t expecting this to work. Of course I don’t actually hate it, it’s really nice to feel like my soul is at rest. But I also haven’t had as many opportunities to pray.
Maybe I should make a habit of praying even when I’m not feeling sad or angry…

Day 7. Wednesday.

“I feel Your heartbeat
And I just want to stay here
Here where I belong.”
Heartbeat by Bellarive was the tune of the day this morning, as I writhed in pain from a severe stomach ache. But for some reason, the pain didn’t discourage me. I just prayed and continued on with my day, even though it hurt to drink water.
I don’t understand how I was able to continue on. Part of me wanted to skip my early morning class and just sleep, but I kept going. And, though I was in pain, I wasn’t worried or upset.
This is so weird. Why do I feel so calm?
I guess a better question is, if I believe that God’s Word is truth, why am I so surprised…?
*・゜・*:.。.:・*:.・*.。
“Thank you for making the pain go away and for helping me stay awake for class. Please continue to heal me, and I pray that the rest of the classes go well. Thank You for giving me the ability to learn. And thank You for the awesome professors that are here that teach such awesome things! It’s so great. I have so much to do, but I love it. I know I will learn from it. Thank You for this day!”
*・゜・*:.。.:・*:.・*.。
“Thank You so much for this night. Thank You so much for this week. I have learned so much, I have felt so much, and I believe. I believe now. You really do give us Your peace if we take the time to ask for it. My mind is in such a different place than it was a week ago– thank You. Thank You. Please continue to remind and convict me to pray. I need You. I can’t do this without You. I don’t want to. So please keep me here, near Your heart.”
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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. katiejj
    Sep 15, 2016 @ 10:19:16

    Praise the LORD! This is so beautiful. He is so good. <3

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

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