September 18th, 2010
Prayer is scary.
As a kid I dreaded public prayer and personal prayer was something I did so I didn’t feel guilty for not doing it. To me it was more of a ritual than an act of relating to God. The more I read the Word, the more I grew in my personal prayer life, but when it came to public prayer I was terrified. I always dreaded that uncomfortable silence that amplified my embarrasing stomach gurgles and beckoned me to say very spiritual sounding things. When I was pretty young I attended a Baptist church in Leona Valley, and one of the pastors would come to the front and literally pray for a half an hour. I thought it was so boring to listen to this guy go on and on while I had my eyes closed, that I began to look for clues when the neverending prayer was about to happen, and make sure I suddenly had to pee. The bathrooms had an awesome speaker so you could pee while you listened to the service, and not miss what God had for you that morning because of nature calling. So I hung out in the bathroom for a half hour, untill I heard the beautiful sound of “Amen” and then made my way back to the sactuary. One thing that was so deadly to prayer time was catching eye contact with my sister. The second I caught her eye, it was a battle against laughter. There were so many times I didn’t think I was going to make it without laughing out lound in the middle of prayer. Although I look back and laugh at my silly antics, I feel pretty guilty.
Prayer is sacred.
Prayer is coming before our creator and king and praising Him and thanking Him and grasping tight to Him. We aren’t just talking to walls. And we aren’t talking to ourselves. It shouldn’t be about who can say the most intricate, poetic combination of words. Prayer is all about coming to the throne of the most high and laying our lives and hearts before Him, when they are broken, joyful, or thankful…just as we are. God can comfort us through prayer and dicipline us. Prayer is a beautiful essential part of a relationship with God. Different experiences in my life led me to realize, having a stronghold when it comes to prayer, really can hold us back. I felt like I was bound with chains to the fear of public prayer. I made it about me and always feared what people thought. We all tend to compare our prayers to others and feel insecure if our prayer doesn’t sound fancy and spiritual. This is a distraction! I had this strong hold for many years and it kept me from the freedom that God wants for us. There is peace found in realizing that before the throne of God is freedom and rest. I asked God to free me from this stronghold that bound me so tightly. One day I was at church and it was time for us to pray. I closed my eyes and started to imagine the throne of God as described in Revelations 4.”At once I was in the Spirit, and there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian. A rainbow, resembling an emerald, encircled the throne. Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. Before the throne, seven lamps were blazing. These are the seven spirits[a] of God. Also before the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal.” Can you imagine actually praying in this environment? Suddenly, in my mind, all the people in the room weren’t there and I took a deep breath and just prayed before God, surrendering my heart and really grasping how sacred it is to comminicate with the Lord. God has freed me from the fear of praying in public. Yes I still have my moments of battle with fear, but as soon as I close my eyes and really put my heart before the throne, my fear washes away and it all becomes about my Savior. We are so blessed to be able to come before God with our praise, and supplication. Let’s talk to our God knowing that He is listening to our hearts, and let’s really engage in this beautiful and passionate conversation between us and our Creator.