Strength Through Honest Prayer
Hello, my name is Maddie, and I am currently all over the place. Both literally and figuratively speaking, my actual self and the neural pathways of my brain space are like a pinball machine. During this season of life, I juggle teaching, homeschooling, coaching, personal training, ministry, cooking, exercising, cleaning AND I’m a collegiate football coach’s wife which could honestly be a full-time job in itself. If you know you know.
Oh yeah, I follow Jesus, by the way. It’s kind of the most important thing about who I am. He’s the “reason” I do everything. Reading through the bible with a one-year plan is a goal of mine this year. I’ve successfully done that once...you don’t even want to know how many times I’ve started and quit around Ecclesiastes or so. Prayer partners and bible study and podcasts of sermons are things I manage to squeeze into the mix. In the midst of all my busyness, am I just paying lip service to God?
“‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. -Matthew 15:8
Everybody is busy. Our culture applauds a fast-paced life. If you’ve never read our blog before, I actually wrote a book review about my goal to “ruthlessly eliminate hurry” from my life last summer…annnnd I have gotten slow-ish-er. Nahh. Ya girl has MAYBE, sometimes, gently decreased a little hurry from her life. It’s a process!! Un-hurrying my life is still one of my 3,417 goals that I have floating around in my all-over-the-place brain. But I know I put too much on my plate for more reasons than “everybody is doing it:”
WHEN I SLOW DOWN, I HAVE NO CHOICE BUT TO ADDRESS WHAT IS REALLY GOING ON INSIDE OF ME.
The reality of how I feel about my circumstances and problems is something I don’t have time to address. Or maybe I just don’t want to take the time to allow myself to feel. That’s not okay.
Jesus was busy. How in the world did He slow down enough to get extended time alone with God to pray? He just did. One evening when THE WHOLE TOWN had gathered at His door AFTER SUNSET (Mark 1:32-37) for help and healing, Jesus got up very early the next morning, while it was still dark, and went off to a solitary place to pray. This happens multiple times in the gospels. No excuses, get away and pray:
“He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, ‘Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.’ An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground…” -Luke 22:41-44
Hold on, did you happen to notice that underlined part where it says an angel spontaneously appeared and gave Him strength? Whattttttt??? Jesus knew what was about to go down - and He had feelings about it - AND HE WAS HONEST IN PRAYER WITH GOD ABOUT THOSE FEELINGS. The Son of God asked for God to change His circumstances if at all possible. But He followed it with “not my will, but yours be done.”
The authentic prayer of Jesus followed by His surrender to the Father’s will provided supernatural strength. Jesus’ circumstances did NOT change. Immediately following that prayer, He was betrayed, beaten, and crucified. God’s will was accomplished through His obedience.
I’m not going to lie; it feels petty comparing my “troubling circumstances” to Jesus’. I’ve been struggling recently and begging God for a change of our circumstances. Subconsciously, I was expecting His answer to be something like: “Okay, Maddie here’s those new circumstances you asked for with a side order of comfort! Maddie’s will be done.” When I say it out loud it sounds ridiculous, but I confess I felt entitled to my will.
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” -Ephesians 2:10
I am here to do what God created and prepared in advance for me to do. He designed me for His will. Currently, I’m in an ugly wrestling match with my honest feelings about life both in prayer AND inside my head. My prayer life is woefully deficient in comparison to my busy-ness. But as a follower of Jesus, I see His example of honest prayer met with an angel to strengthen Him in that moment. So, I don’t give up praying. I won’t get stuck in my head.
God, please forgive me for being busy and honoring you with my lips when my heart is far from you. I confess I don’t like to slow down and feel what I truly feel in the midst of my brokenness, selfish motives and ambition. If you are willing, change my circumstances. Yet not my will, but yours be done.