Put Down Your Crayons and Pray
By: Jenny White
“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” 1 John 5:14
Do you remember the first prayer you ever prayed? I honestly have no recollection; however, my earliest memories of prayer were in a church pew on Sunday morning. I always insisted on coming into the service with the rest of my family because I dreaded going to Sunday school. So between coloring in a picture of Noah’s Ark, I’d put down my crayons long enough to kneel with the rest of the congregation. Father Chris would be reading The Prayers of the People and I’d be on my knees, elbows barely reaching the top of the pew, hands folded, eyes closed, and mind wandering. I wondered if it “count” that I was praying if the preacher guy was the only one doing the talking. Plus I was less than listening considering my young mind could not follow his big words. “Lord, I pray whatever he is praying,” I’d say to myself. I knew it had to be good.
Since then my prayers have gotten a little more involved. I strongly believe in the timeless power of guided prayers, but I realized in order to have my own relationship with Jesus my prayers needed to be my prayers. I’ve always envied the eloquence of great speakers like Sadie Robertson or even pastor Mike at Greenhouse who have this gospel fluidity whenever they speak. Their prayers are so beautifully composed compared to my basic blessing I’ll repeat at the dinner table. Oftentimes I get caught up in what my faith looks like, or rather sounds like, than what it actually it. Hence losing the heart of the prayer itself.
I have a pastor back home who is one of the sweetest ladies you will ever meet. She’s not perfect; she stutters sometimes and fumbles on her words, but her prayers have such a realness behind them. She taught me that no matter how many ums or awkward pauses we mix into our prayers, the spirit always intercedes. Romans 8:26 says “we do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” Learn to embrace your awkwardness. Just because your prayer might look different than the next guys, does not mean it is any less meaningful in God’s eyes. God wants to hear from you. Ums and all.
Matthew 7:7 says “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” In other words, pray like you mean it. Lots of times I ask for something of the Lord and end my request with “but you know best, so you do you.” I lower the bar, not expecting anything in return so I won’t be discouraged if he doesn’t answer. Truth is, even if it seems like he didn’t answer—maybe we’re knocking at the wrong door. 1 John 5:14 says if we ask according to his will he will hear us. The difficulty in that is we may not know the will of God, but we can pray for understanding of his will. I have been praying the same prayer for about 6 years now about what career path God wants me to pursue. It’s frustrating and it’s not convenient. But I think of it as “we’re not done waiting till he’s done working”. Therefore, have this confidence when approaching God that he hears us even if he doesn’t answer right away (1 John 5:14). Otherwise, is it really faith at all if we don’t believe he can and will provide?
I go through seasons in my life where sometimes I feel like a prayer warrior, and sometimes I feel like it’s the hardest thing to talk to God. But I know he craves a relationship with us. And guys, long distance relationships aren’t easy—especially from heaven. But again, scripture reminds us that the spirit intercedes. Come near to God and he will come near to you (James 4:8). For when we pray within His will, persistently, wholeheartedly, and without worry about fancy language, God hears us. He hears us like he heard that little girl in the church pew desperately waiting to finish coloring the last two lions aboard the ark. Whether you are frustrated or confused, in need of a miracle, thankful for his blessings, or have no idea what to say: put down your crayons and pray. He’d love to hear from you.