Written by LeadHer Founder, Christie Love
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Four years ago- everything about my life changed. It happened in a flurry of activity and confusion and when it was over I was hurt, and terrified. I never could have imagined the situation I was suddenly in and I had to choose how to respond. I was tempted to shut down, withdraw from the world. Part of me just wanted to suffer in silence. I felt entitled to my pain and wanted to stay in it and shut everyone else out.
I cried. I screamed. I questioned. I prayed.
Those first prayers were once of desperation. I was urging God to move and work a miracle. I needed him to make a way where there was not one. I prayed so hard in those first few days that I had bruises on my knees. I prayed with urgency and then struggled with disappointment as these cries for help went seemingly unanswered.
Days turned into weeks and our struggle stretched on.
I was constantly trying to find a way to fix this problem myself. I was making phone calls, worrying, pacing, and trying to figure out a way to set what was wrong right again. I was praying for God’s help daily but I was refusing to wait on him to do anything. My mindset had become, if he wasn’t going to bring a solution then I was going to create one. My prayers had become more of an activity in seeking his blessing on my efforts each day then seeking his will.
Over time, I grew weary and exhausted. I ran out of the energy to worry every moment and work every waking hour to try to fix everything myself. My body gave out and I collapsed into bed. I laid there for several days trying to recharge my depleted body and mind with food and sleep. In the times that I was awake, I prayed. I breathed prayers of repentance for being stubborn and thinking I could do this without God. I lifted up weary hands in submission to God as I prayed one of the hardest prayers I have ever prayed, “Your will. Your way. Your timing.”
His will was not easy.
His ways were challenging.
His timing was far outside of my comfort zone.
Where I used to pray only for quick resolution… I know also prayed for strength to endure. The physical, emotional, and spiritual strength that it took to get through a day was overwhelming. Under my own power and resources, I would have crumpled before breakfast day after day… yet God’s strength sustained me.
The months began to fade into years and our struggle continued.
For a year — my prayer had been vague– asking God to do big things in any way possible. Then one day– I was challenged in my quite time by a verse in Psalms. “I love the LORD because he hears my voice and my prayer for mercy. Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!” Psalms 116:1-2 (NLT)
The visual illustration that stirred up in my mind… the God of the universe bending down to listen to me and pay attention to me was powerful. It challenged me to pray in greater detail and with more specificity. Not long after that I read Mark Batterson’s The Circle Maker for the first time. This second powerful visual image of drawing circles around our greatest needs motivated me to be both bolder and more detailed in my prayers with God. I no longer only was asking him to do the big things… but also to be a part of the smallest things as well.
I began to marvel at how differently I began to see God’s hand in the details of both the good and the bad. Prayer opened my eyes to the movements of God by focusing my attention on his presence and his activity more then ever before.
For several years now, I have been inviting God to work in the details through prayer. I have prayed for myself and I have prayed for others. I have prayed for friends and I have prayed for strangers. I have celebrated time and time again as I saw God move and answer prayers of all shapes and sizes.
All this time… however, our big prayer remained ever present on my heart and my lips. Our situation remain unresolved.
People close to me began to ask if it was hard to watch God answer other people’s prayers but not ours. If it was frustrating to wait on him. The answer is yes and no… yes it is hard to wait but no it is not hard to watch him work in the lives of others. Each time that I see him answer a prayer in my life or the life of someone that I have been praying for I am reminded that he is a God who sees, who hears, and who has a plan much bigger then our own. Each answer encourages me to keep asking.
I ask now for things I would not have asked for before. At the start of our struggle- my prayers were self-seeking- asking for the quickest, fastest way out of this pain. Today my prayers are more often for others then for myself. I pray for people who have hurt us. I pray for God to move in their lives and to use our circumstances to draw them closer to him. I pray for others to have strength and to learn to seek God each day for strength and comfort. I pray for opportunities to share my experiences with others in a way that will help them discover God and grow closer to him despite their own circumstances.
I would love to say that there are still not hard days… but it would not be honest.
I still pray our big prayer daily and ask God to do what only he can and there are some days that frustration and anger took a fresh hold. New questions began to surface– Why us? Why so long? Why all this pain? I have learned over the years that prayer is not just a place for me to present my requests to God- but also my questions to him. He listens and though he does not always give answers- he has never failed to provide peace and comfort to continue moving forward with him on this long, difficult journey.
Today marks four years that my life was forever changed and altered. In many ways today is a hard day- an anniversary of endings- a fresh reminder of what was taken away and what has been lost. However, in other ways, it is the birthday of beginnings. This journey has been paved with evolving prayers and each of them have molded me and my family into the people that we are today. Despite our struggles, I believe in the power of prayer and as long as there is breath in my body I will engage in the privilege of prayer. I am committed to not only praying for solutions but also praying through struggles- no matter how long they linger.
Over these last four years, I have learned that we are not molded by the answers to our prayers but rather by our persistence in prayer. I have seen prayer change circumstances and I have seen prayer change people. My prayers have changed over the course of our challenges- but each of them has played a role in changing me from the inside out. The greatest indicator of continual change in someone is not in how words or actions change but in how their prayers evolve as they grow in relationship with God who bends down to listen each time we pray.
I know that persistent prayer is not easy but I urge to press on. I don’t know what you are seeking God for today… but I urge you- don’t stop. Do not silence your prayers in defeat or turn away in anger. Allow the process of prayer to mold you as your prayers evolve and your relationship with God grows.