Welcome to Hearing God Through Prayers (Part 5 of the Hearing God Series).
A moment of stillness during a midday prayer time helped me more than a million words of petition ever could.
Listening to God during prayer time isn’t something I do well. It’s something I aspire to improve at. Being still before God is a spiritual discipline that requires loads of self-discipline. But one day I got a glimpse of how profitable it is to sit with silence and wait on the Lord.
Lunch was under my belt, laundry was almost completed, and my writing quota for the day was done when I knelt in my writing room to pray one afternoon. The rollaway camping cot in the corner of the room that’s covered in handmade quilts my mother and I made years ago is my favorite place of prayer.
One quilt on it is a crazy patch that’s not only lovely to look at, it’s luxurious to lean my elbows on due to the velvet sections throughout it. The cotton quilt at the foot of the cot is one I handstitched while pregnant with my firstborn. It’s the blanket I nursed each of my three children under, morning, nap time, and bedtime when they were babies.
My midday prayers are handstitched with love too. They’re a crazy patch of praise, petition, and thanksgiving. Unlike my morning ones which are more regimented, my noon ones are spontaneous. And since I’m an early riser, I’m tired by my second prayer time and am more open to waiting in stillness and pondering in silence than I am after a piping hot morning coffee.
On the day I sat stiller longer than I have in ages, tears flowed. Not lots. Just enough to let me know I needed an extra hug from God. A longing I had seemed impossible to ever happen. One thing I’ve learned about our Heavenly Father over the years is that He loves to meet us in our places of deep desire.
When we hurt with what appears to be deferred hope, it’s an opportunity to seek deeper intimacy with Christ.
He understands pain. He too has begged the Father to remove a cup of suffering, if God was willing. With this knowledge, I asked God if He would grant my heart’s desire. And then I told Him I trusted Him to do so if it was something He agreed with. This wasn’t the first time I’ve acknowledged He’s able to do anything. After my request I praised Him for being a God who comforts us when we need comfort.
Telling Him I trusted Him to bring me peace in His perfect way and timing, released the tension piled up inside me. He released the tenacious grip grief had on my heart.
My tendency to avoid facing grief only makes grief cling longer. A heavy heart causes sluggishness of the soul. How can we sing when we’re sagging under the heaviness of sorrow? It’s better to be honest with God and lay our sadness bare.
Somewhere in the past, I believed a falsehood about loss. Shame surfaces whenever I lose someone. Blame rather than comfort tugs me under a blanket of darkness as if I deserve to be buried too. It hurls accusations like dirt telling me I don’t deserve comfort because my feelings aren’t worthy to be acknowledged. They must remain in a grave. Alone.
By being still before God, I sensed His disagreement with old lies telling me to keep my grief in the dark. Instead, He invited me to bring my sorrow and disappointment into His light. Weeping is the perfect way to wash lies out of our lives. Honesty lets God’s love shine light into the darkness. His goal is to free us from the slavery of shame. His grace sheds comfort and hope into a stagnant well so it’s transformed into a living spring of joy.
Sorrow serves us when we offer it to Jesus. For only He can turn our sorrows into joy. Pausing during prayer time doesn’t earn us His attention. It makes us aware of it. Hearing God in our prayers tells us we’re seen, heard, and cherished unconditionally. If we feel like God isn’t showing up when we’re down, it’s because we haven’t shown up with our authentic selves. He invites us to seek Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. This means we don’t sanitize our grief, our anger, our fear, our confusion, our anything. We show up as-is because that’s who God is waiting for.
To hear we must be here. And then we find out He was with us all along.
When he cries out to me, I will hear, for I am compassionate. Exodus 22:27 NIV
And now I’d like to close with a poem:
When the lonely or hurting
Cry out to God
He hears each one
Because He’s compassionate
When we’re troubled or afraid
Let’s cry out to God
And He’ll help us
Because He’s compassionate.
Blessings of Christ’s compassion,