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Jul
23

On Prayer

But Yahweh is in His Holy Temple.

Let all the earth keep silence before Him.

Habakkuk 2:20


Learning the Art of Prayer

My prayer life has evolved in ways I could never have imagined it would. I do not remember the first time I caught myself talking to Yahweh – just right out loud for anyone to hear as if there were another person in the room. I am certain it began in a fit of frustration, of feeling my prayers weren’t being answered quick enough or right enough, certain it was more in the form of a rant than a prayer or even a civil conversation.

I do remember about a year ago driving home from town, Tobias with his head hanging out the window, the summer’s afternoon sun shining bright, and I was having a conversation. It was just me and Tobias and Tobias was paying me no mind at all.

It startled me when I realized I was talking out loud. It wasn’t about anything in particular. I was noticing the clouds and the sun, talking about how much I missed stopping to talk to Mr. Young at his vegetable stand since he had died last spring, discussing the hollyhocks he was growing for his mother and how wonderful it tasted to pick a tomato straight form the vine and eat it still warm from the sun. I was excited about my new chicks and my honey bees and I rambled on a bit about them both. I was wondering about rain and when it was coming because it seemed a drought had set in. I was describing the sukkah I would build for Tabernacles and how exciting it would be to camp out for eight days. I was asking if I drank my morning coffee on Day of Atonement, would I still be counted as having afflicted myself.  Without pausing, I determined no.  And when I realized I was talking out loud as if Abba or Yeshua or both were sitting in the seat right beside me, I wondered if this conversation counted as praying without ceasing. I also wondered how crazy I might look if someone other than Tobias noticed.

The thing is I am a writer and an artist and for sure an introvert. I spend a lot of time alone. I talk to my dog. A lot. And without fail, he will sit and listen. But not today. This day he had not even bothered to duck his head back in the window which would have been the normal action when he hears me speak. And it made me wonder exactly how long had this been going on;  how often had this talking out loud to Yahweh been happening that even the dog realized the difference.

As the year wore on and came to a close, I began to feel the need for stillness, a desperation for quiet. And the question nagged my spirit – how much am I listening?

This year has half passed into history and I have been failing miserably at it. This stillness. This waiting. This listening.

Prayer is many things. It is thanksgiving. It is praise. It is petition and it is intercession. It is also listening.

Prayer is a constant and never ceasing conversation. Conversations require more than one person to happen; otherwise, we are orating.  It is equally important to listen as it is to speak. With Yahweh, listening is more important; listening is vital.

Praying is a weighty responsibility.

Praying for ourselves or for someone’s salvation or interceding on behalf of others requires trust that no matter what happens, Yahweh deems it necessary – whether we view it that way or not.

Too often, I think, we pray contradictory prayers. Too often we ask Yahweh to act, then attempt to restrict His actions; this is a lack of trust on our part. We can say we trust Him, but if in the midst of our prayer we are instructing Him how to answer it, then we are treating Him like a genie in a box – someone with whom we approach to do our bidding.

And this is no way to approach our King.

Over the past few years, Abba has been teaching me new ways to pray. Of all the things He has taught me, I believe it is most important I come to Him in honesty, stripped of pride, and that with respect, I can say anything to Him.

I believe the most effective prayer is one filled with the rawness of our desperation.

Desperation to repent – for ourselves, for others, for our nation.

Desperation to cry out — in confusion and in honesty, in fear and in joy.

Desperation to seek His truth and understand His wisdom.

Desperation to be purified and washed in all that is Holy.

I believe there is nothing more powerful than when we get down on our knees in reverence before our Elohim, kneeling in awe of His omnipotence as our King, in humility and in love as our Father. Prayer is a time to be encouraged by His mighty power; a time to allow ourself to be humbled by His greatness and to be honored to enter His presence. Above all, it is a time to be still and know He is your Elohim and He delights in the precious moments when you are His alone.

As we practice listening, often, times of stillness and silence will feel lonely. But loneliness is a gift if we learn to meditate and capture the silence to focus on Yahweh. For it is in the silence, Yahweh speaks.

Guard your steps when you go to the House of Elohim

Do not be hasty with your mouth

and

let not your heart hurry to bring forth a word before Elohim.

For Elohim is in the heavens and you on earth,

therefore, let your words be few.

Ecclesiastes 5:1-2

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2 Responses to “On Prayer”

  1. Ann Chastain says:

    This morning our sermon was totally about being still and listening to God. I think we all forget that sometimes.

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