I remember the first prayer I ever learned, “Now I lay me down to sleep,” I am sure most people who have ever prayed know that one. It is the prayer of a child, it isn’t deep, but it gets the point across, it is scary to think of being alone at night in the dark, so I ask God to keep me, through the night, to bring me to the morning light, whole and rested, and if I should not see the new day, that I will be remembered as a child of God and taken home to be with Him. I used that prayer for a long time, I didn’t grow in my prayer life, I didn’t wander from the memorized lines, I didn’t know that prayer was a conversation with God, that I could say anything I wanted God to know. Yes, I know God already knows what I want to say, but He likes me to say it anyway.
At some point, I am not sure when, my prayer life changed, I was not happy with just praying some memorized formulaic prayer, I wanted to speak to God in my own voice, I wanted to tell Him that which I held dear in my heart, I wanted to open myself up by speaking the words that were in my head. I wanted to be honest with the One who already knows. I learned, through study and practice, that it isn’t enough to tell God what I want, I must also ask Him to make clear to me what He wants. To pray for the will of God to manifest itself in your life requires taking a good hard look at yourself. So, can I? Can I set myself aside, my pride, my ego and ask God to fill me up with His goodness, to work His will in my life, and once asked, can I answer the call He places on me, can I bend myself to His will, can I follow the path He lays out for me? This wasn’t a one time revelation or epiphany, it is an ongoing process, I still catch myself trying to assert my own will and losing sight of the will of God. I still allow my ego to get in the way, I still wander from the path. So, maybe I should start again, after all, faith is a series of short trips that all add up to a lifelong journey, it is a long voyage broken up into small legs. So, I will renew my mind and focus by praying each day. I will accept my failings and weaknesses, my brokenness and missteps and I will pray again, like it is the first time. I will talk to the Lord as if He didn’t know, so that I will have to be honest with Him, and in so doing, be honest with myself. I will see myself as I am, so that the Lord can send His Holy Spirit into me, to do the work He has set aside for me to do.
There are a ton of resources on-line and books that talk about prayer, explain the many ways to go about it. If you break down the Lord’s prayer you see a pattern to follow, when you pray you are not recording an outgoing message on your answering machine or voice-mail, you are speaking in the moment to your Heavenly Father. So, I will spend time each day in prayer. I will daily come to the foot of the cross (metaphorically) and kneel and pray. I will leave behind my excuses and my ego and I will come awash in my need for intervention, guidance and salvation and I will finish cleansed and renewed and ready for the day ahead.
I will do this, not to impress others, or to win something that hasn’t already been given, I will do this because it is too easy to forget the truth, it is too easy to begin to believe that I somehow deserve the gift of salvation, it is too easy to get in my own way. It is too easy to dismiss just what Christ did for me, to lose sight of the cross, of His blood there, of His last breath and His suffering. I will remind myself daily of my own need, of my own weakness and I will be strengthened by that reminder. I will ask the Holy Spirit to make within me a place where He can dwell, where He can set about working through me, daily. I will ask, for the Lord’s will to be shown to me, to be impressed upon me and to guide my foot steps as I walk this dusty path, and I will ask for the strength to continue on the path, even when it is rough or scary, or hard work.
Dear Lord, I am a broken cup, empty and flawed. I wander from Your ways, I place myself and the things of this world above You, I forget the price You paid, I lose sight of the cross. I am Your child, alone and frightened in the night, I fail to remember You. I do the things I should not, and I don’t do the things I should. I would lose hope if it were not for Your faithfulness. I know that my Lord Jesus Christ lived, and died for me. I am reminded when I kneel before the cross that it was never within my abilities to build the bridge, to conquer the evil in the world, to lift myself up from the mud. It has always been Your hand, outstretched and waiting, that has lifted me, that has led me and has saved me. I am thankful Lord for Your patience, Your love, Your forgiveness and the gift of salvation You give to me and to each of Your children. Please Lord, keep me mindful of my place in Your creation. Please Lord, remind me of the path You have laid before me. Please Lord, strengthen me for the battles ahead, give to me the wisdom I need to see the world as it is, the faith to keep fighting and to keep going even when it might seem that the fight is useless. Remind me that You will use all things for good, and that Your will is perfect. Please give me eyes that see, and ears that hear and a heart that is open to Your love, forgiveness and salvation. I want to be a cup that holds water, that can carry Your message out into the world, that can share with the thirsty the story of Your love and the message of the well You have provided us. I want to be a better disciple, a voice that is filled with Your message, a light not for my own purposes, but to help others to focus on You. I want this and so much more. Dear Lord, please use me today, and tomorrow, please keep me and shelter me, please guide me and fill me with Your Holy Spirit, please place Your loving hand on me and show to me that which You would have me see. In the name of Jesus Christ, Your Son and my Savior –