Written by Christie Love, LeadHer Founder
As we come to December, and begin to wrap up our year-long conversation on prayer, I find myself looking back over the last 11 months and reflecting on how prayer has been shaping my own life and leadership.
Transparently, this has been a hard year for me personally.
I have experienced hurt, loneliness, and isolation in some very painful ways after taking a stand this year for a situation that I felt God prompting me to address. Doing so came at the cost of friendships, support, and community. Throughout this tough season- prayer has been my lifeline. I have been reminded that though people may let you down but God never will. People may withdraw from you but God promises to never leave us or forsake us.
For me, prayer has been a refreshing source of strength for each day. Like cool, fresh water from a deep well; my ongoing conversations with my Heavenly Father have soothed my spirit and filled me with direction and confidence to continue to walk forward no matter how challenging the path. My personal connection with God has been strengthened and driven to new depths of intimacy through this year’s season of struggle. I have been reminded of the magnetic pull of prayer and how it draws us closer to the heart of God.
This has been a year of release and restoration.
This year I had to release a dream and trust that God has different plans and purposes for some of my gifts and abilities. Releasing anything is hard. We long to linger in the places where our hearts have taken root. Initially I resisted this release; however, the longer I resisted the greater the burden became to let go. I took a long walk one day to pray and seek God’s guidance on the issue. During that time I felt like God impressed a powerful picture on my heart that changed my perspective of the situation. Through prayer, He showed me that by letting go of something that I wanted to do, more room would be made for something that He needed me to do. Prayer became the lens that clarified my short-term focus and readjusted my long-term vision.
It was not long after that release that God began to breath new life into an old dream that I had laid down years ago out of frustration and failure. It is one of the oldest and greatest dreams of my heart, one that has gone unfulfilled up to this point of my life. In the past, I have tried to push my own plans to make this dream a reality, only to fall short in frustration again and again. Yet, this year, HE (not me) began to take actions to make this previously resigned dream a potential reality. He has made connections that only he could make. He has given fresh ideas that only He could give. He has reignited passion in my heart where the spirit of defeat had been lingering. His actions this year have been a fresh reminder to me that our dreams don’t die and our prayers never expire. He is the God of perfect timing and divine connections because he sees all things in the scope of eternity.
It has also been a year of celebration.
While this year has had great struggle, it has also seen amazing victory! This year, I saw God answer part of a bold prayer that I have been praying for four long years. I have spent countless hours asking Him to make a way where there did not seem to be one in this situation. I have shed countless tears. I have confessed impatience and frustration at him again and again at the lack of change in this situation. I have fought through my emotions to surrender to trusting him, even when I did not understand. After years of praying, we saw God move in a large way in this painful circumstance. We celebrate his goodness and his sovereignty with this fresh reminder that while we pray on our timeline… God answers on his!
The Discipline of Reflection
Søren Kierkegaard once said, “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” Reflection helps us to look back and recognize the subtle and the obvious moves of God like a holy connect-the-dot puzzle. Spending time in reflection is a critical discipline for leaders; it allows us the chance thank God for what he has done, to learn from where we have been, and to draw out lessons from our journey that we can apply as we continue to move forward.
In our January teaching video, I made the statement, “Through the process of prayer God shapes us to be the people that he is calling us to be.” I see that process actively at work in my own life as I reflect on over this year. I am in awe of the many ways that prayer has been influencing and shaping my heart and guiding my actions. I am overwhelmed when I see the divine connections made between God’s present activity and my past prayers.
I encourage you to spend some time doing likewise- carve out some time today to reflect back on how your life and leadership have been shaped by your prayers this year.