Persevering in Prayer

“So I say to you, Ask and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds; and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.”-Luke 11:9-10

“Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.”–Romans 12: 12

“Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”-Philippians 4:6

I’ll admit that I haven’t always been the best at praying. Yes, I have indeed prayed to God when things in life were at their very worse. And there have also been times when I have praised God for healing or simply lifted to him prayers of thanksgiving. And there are still some days when I wonder if God hears my prayers at all; hears the very desires of my heart. But the truth is that God does hear those prayers.

I think of the time when my Mom was in the intensive care unit at a hospital because her lithium level had gotten too high which had caused her kidneys to shut down. I remember sitting in my dorm room that February day when my phone rang. And I remember running down the stairs to the computer lab in my dorm building where I sent a quick prayer request out to my camp friends. Moments after I returned to my room, my phone rang again and this time it was a friend who was reaching out in prayer for me and my mom. I will forever remember that sweet gesture of friendship.

“Ask and it shall be given to you”

I remember the many prayers that were lifted up like “cups raised to receive” (a line from a poem from a seminary friend’s friend) after the Haiti earthquake happened. I remember how our prayers were collected for Renee, Ben, and Jon all over the world and the United States. And I also recall hearing the stories that Renee and Jon shared of the Haitian people reaching out in prayer to and for them.

“Ask and it shall be given to you”

Several years ago, when I began my Lenten discipline of praying through my Facebook friends list for Lent, I could never have imagined the ways that it would bless my friends and even me. I cannot even begin to tell you how absolutely wonderful it has been.

This year as I have prayed for my friends, I immediately recall the prayers that I have prayed for them over the last several years. There is my high school classmate who tried for a long time to have a child of their own with her husband. Today their daughter is a year old. “Ask and it shall be given to you.”

There is the friend who just a few days ago asked me to pray for a new job for him. And today on FB he updated his status to say, “I have a job.” “Ask and it shall be given to you.”

There is my new blog friend who returned to her apartment after they had a fire there and realized that her family and her needed to move on. She struggled for days trusting that her prayer would be answered. But they now have a house! God indeed heard every prayer lifted up for them. “Ask and it will be given to you”

There are the prayers I have prayed for unborn children.

There are the prayers I have prayed for the health and well-being of family and friends.

There are the prayers I have prayed for the end to violence and suffering.

There are the prayers I have prayed for peace.

There are the prayers that I still will pray!

Sometimes these prayers have been answered in ways that I have expected and other times they have not been answered in ways that I have expected. But the truth is that God is faithful and indeed hears every word that comes from my lips and is raised to him. I know that there are still days that I will question if God hears the prayers for myself, but the truth is God hears them too. And those prayers are being lifted for me by those near and dear to me.

Prayer is an amazing holy gift that reminds us of the power of God and God’s love for each and every one of us. God does indeed hear every prayer. And because God does hear every prayer, I will continue to persevere in prayer…and ask that you do to.

Because, my friends, there are still prayers that will need to be lifted up to the one who hears and answers them.

The “Holy Space” of Prayer

Prayer is a pretty incredible gift! The last several years for a Lenten practice instead of giving something up, I have decided to take something on. Now I realize that I pray every day…or at least I try to….but often the days have gotten long and I find myself quickly getting the words out. But every Lent for the last two-three years as I have prayed through my friends list, I have realized how focused it makes me and how incredibly powerful it can be to pray for others in my life. It truly reminds me of the communion of saints gathered here and around the world!

There is something incredibly awesome and holy about being let into that “holy space.” I have been asked to pray for friends who have family members suffering an illness. I have been asked to pray for friends as they have tried to start their own families. I have been asked to simply enter into these “holy spaces” and to pray for my friends and family. I hold each prayer with delicateness and pure grace as I lift each one of them before God. “Let my prayers rise up like incense…”

And by entering into these “holy spaces,” I have watched as God has answered these prayers. God hasn’t always answered them in the time or the places that I have prayed for or that my friends and family have specifically asked for but I truly believe God has heard my prayers and hears all of our prayers. I have rejoiced with friends as they have finally been able to take their child home with them. I have mourned with friends as someone they have loved is no longer suffering and no longer in pain but has left this Earth. I have found peace in the midst of a friends troubled relationship because they have finally found peace.

Prayer has taught me so much about what it means to trust in this One who calls and claims each and every one of us as God’s children. God promises that God will never leave us or forsake us. I realize that isn’t easy to trust in because life happens but the promise is that God will always be with us. And because God is always with us, we can ALWAYS turn to him in prayer. I’ll admit there are days when I want to be selfish and pray for myself…pray for silly things. Yes, there are times when I truly do need to turn to God in prayer for healing, for wholeness, for peace for myself but the gift is when I let go and pray for those around me, I begin to see God answering prayers that I have repeatedly said to God for myself.

In praying for others, I have been asked several times by my friends how they can pray for me? I know that there is a whole community of faith in Dilworth, MN who hold me in their hearts and pray for me to find my Mr. Right, to start a family, etc. I know that there is a community of Diaconal Ministry colleagues who daily pray for me. I also know that there is a community of faith right here in Minot ND who daily pray for me too. And there are people scattered throughout the United States and even around the world who know my heart and soul and continually pray for my prayers to be answered. And knowing that is enough!

“Ask, and it will be given you; search and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks the door will be opened (Matthew 7:7-8).”

Post-Easter Sabbath

Can you believe Lent is over and that we began the season of Easter yesterday? Holy Week was crazy! I don’t know if it was the full moon or what. We survived! My colleague suggested I run away and/or take a few days of Sabbath. I took him up on it. I didn’t run very far but it has been glorious. Sleeping in, watching tv, napping, napping and more napping. I even booked a facial tomorrow at a local spa. I have never done one but am looking forward to it.

It’s amazing how a little Sabbath can truly make a difference. Thank you to my dear colleague for the suggestion and encouragement. I hope my friends who work in the church have found some post-Easter Sabbath too! How do you like to spend extended days of Sabbath? What do you do for yourself?