All my Christian life I have found it very hard to pray. As someone who was constantly anxious and living in a state of self doubt, it was very easy to question myself each time I went to bow my head in prayer.
Am I doing it right? Am I being sincere enough? Can God hear really me? Does he care about my problems? Or does he not want to listen because of the sin I committed the other day?
Prayer, along with reading my bible, can oftentimes be a personal struggle for me. Lately, I actually feel guilty if I do not read my bible and pray because I feel like I have heard over and over again that these are two key elements to having a relationship with God, and sometimes I think to myself, if I am not doing these things does this mean I do not have a personal relationship with God? If I do not have a relationship with God, does this mean if the world was to end today and rapture was to begin will I be one of those people God will tell he does not know? Case in point: Mathew 7: 21.
I sometimes feel that my relationship with God can be very wishy-washy. I would best describe my spiritual life as experiencing continual short bursts of excitement. Maybe I heard a sermon that really excited me, or maybe I felt so touched by the worship in church that day that I decided to go out to the front of the church and give my life to God, again, and again, and again. In those moments, I am for the most part, able to pray and read my bible, but if you don’t start off with a strong foundation with complete sincerity that God will really come into your life and transform you from sinner to a child of the Kingdom of God, it is very easy to get distracted, something that I have firsthand experience in. It is not that I did not mean it when I repeated after the pastor my promise to turn back from sin and my cry to let the Holy Spirit fill me up, I was very genuine.
I hate sin. Psalm 97:10 Let those who love the LORD hate evil, for he guards the lives of his faithful ones and delivers them from the hand of the wicked.
I hate that it is a part of me. I hate the guilt. I hate the unsettled conscience. I hate knowing I have something in common with Satan. It is hard ya’ll. It is hard turning away from the flesh. The temptations of the world are all around us. I want to be set apart, but it is difficult to not be a part of the crowd. Naturally, I hate feeling left out. I hate not knowing something; it makes me uncomfortable to be left out the crowd.
1 Peter 2:9 But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.
Deuteronomy 14:2 You have been set apart as holy to the LORD your God, and he has chosen you from all the nations of the earth to be his own special treasure.
Honestly, I know as a Christian I am supposed to want to be “set apart” but it is genuinely hard doing this. It is hard deleting all the secular music from my phone and just listening to Gospel songs. It is hard not watching television shows that I like because I know that they do not glorify God and they are not helping me to grow as a child of God. It is hard.
However, I think it is important to not look at my journey in Christ as hard. That is where temptation comes in. If a child is told they cannot have a sweet the temptation for that sweet becomes so much greater. It is the same for us as Children of God, if we are told not to be in the world, the temptation for the world and the things of it, becomes that much greater. We are inherently sinners, the bible explains this to us, this is why Jesus had to come down into the Earth, to free us from sin and the ultimate punishment, death. Now, calm down, I’m not trying to say that now Jesus has come down into the Earth, we are no longer going to die, we are not immortal. (Who would want to be immortal anyways? Yeah you may live forever, but think of the wrinkles. An eternity worth of saggy breasts and wrinkly skin? Yeah, no thanks!) It just means that when we do eventually kick the bucket, we are going to a better place. We are going to a place of eternal peace and happiness.
I have long looked at prayer as a burden of Christianity, I guess because I know I am not doing the right thing. It is hard to talk to God about my life. When you are sinning and not living the life God wants for you, it is very easy to forget that God loves you and he wants the best for you. It is crazy to think that whether I am sinning or doing the right thing God wants to hear from me, he wants me to lean on him in my times of sorrow as well as in my times of joy. God wants to be everything to us, because whether we want to accept it or not, God is already everything to us. If God corrects us he is not doing it with malice or ill-intentions, but because he loves us and he wants the best for us. As someone who can testify of having had a negative mindset, it is hard to believe that a God so mighty and holy can possibly love me, a dirty sinner. God wants us to join him in his kingdom, we are his children and he wants us with him. It has being hard realizing it, but in the depths of my heart I know it is true and God wouldn’t allow me to type those words, if I didn’t believe it.
Prayer is not always, it is easy to get the distracted, worn down by the hardships of the world, but it also important to understand that God is our friend. He is our father. Our protector. Our defender. If he doesn’t love us. Who will? Before we even utter the words, God already knows what lies in our heart. God does not think any request we have is too big. He does not laugh at our desires, nor at our dreams. He does not look down on our confessions, nor does he think we our stupid or pathetic for the things we do. God loves us. God loves me. God loves you. It’s been hard getting that through my head, but I know it to be true.