July 25, 2021
A few weeks ago, we gathered for supper to celebrate Sarah’s birthday. Jackie Beth said the blessing. She no longer repeats a memorized prayer, but delivers her own personal words of thanks. It is so precious!
Anyway, as she drew her very sweet little prayer to a close, she said, “…and in the name of Jesus PRICE we pray. Amen.”
Jesus Price. ❤️
Somewhere on The Other Side, I feel pretty certain that Joe and Jesus heard her. And I just feel like Joe gently nudged Jesus with his elbow and whispered, “You know, I always had a feeling you were a Price.” 😇
This week, Joe’s lesson is about how we pray, why we pray, and how prayer changes the world around us.
“Prayer does not condition God. Prayer conditions us. Prayer does not win God to our view—it reveals God’s view to us.”-Leo Ravenhill
I don’t think prayer comes naturally to all of us. I have heard that a person’s life will suffer if he or she doesn’t pray. I am not sure how I feel about that. What I do believe is that if a person does not pray, the part of Jesus that lives inside them will suffer.
When a person is born again, they take a part of Jesus into their heart. Then, they can either feed that part or starve it. Prayer is the way we feed our faith. Now, we can look at prayer as a way to get things done, but I think the real purpose in prayer is to get to know God better.
The Bible tells us in John 16:24 to “ask and ye shall receive.” We complain to God in prayer about what is not right, we apologize for what we have done wrong, but we ask for just a few things. And we also wait until we have reached rock bottom to ask for help. As long as we think we can handle things, we might not think we need to call on God.
So, maybe we should ask more. I think sometimes we worry about sounding like a child wanting this, that and the other. But, the book of Matthew says that “unless we be as little children…”. Maybe we should simply ask with childlike faith, and then give God room to work.
I’ll leave you with this thought: I’ve heard that prayer changes things, and I think that is true. But what prayer really changes is ME.
Joe could simply open his mouth and a beautiful, eloquent prayer would fall out of it. On command. I was always envious of that.
However, when he was really troubled about something, Joe would ask me to pray about it. I’d always say, “Ok, but you are praying about it, too, right?”
He’d reply, “Yes, but I think He hears you better.” Bless Joe’s heart.
In Joe’s lesson this week, he said, ” I think sometimes we worry about sounding like a child wanting this, that and the other. In late January/early February of this year, I struggled with this concept in the reverse. Joe’s death was still so raw. I moved my oldest son, Caegan, into an apartment in Wilmington. My youngest son, Cameron, was now a junior in high school, driving himself around and suddenly very independent. NOBODY NEEDED ME. I suddenly saw the irony of how we, as parents, spend all those years teaching our children to be strong, self-sufficient humans..to spread their wings, so to speak. Yet, when they begin to fly…well, for me it was bittersweet to say the least. I didn’t want them to be so independent that they didn’t ever need their mama. I still need mine and I am
46 older than my boys. 😜
I wonder if God feels that way about us when we don’t come to Him in prayer? After all, we are His children, too.
Maybe part of our hesitation comes from our misguided assumption that our prayers have to fit some reverent, grammatically correct mold. And while it is my most sincere hope that your every thought overflows with beautiful sentence structure and perfect punctuation 🤷♀️, I don’t think God is holding any of us to that standard.
Think about the wonder of when a toddler is learning to express himself or herself. They feel every emotion in a BIG way, and are quick to share it with their grown ups. Toddlers don’t look at us and say, “Thank you for gifting me with something unexpected, Dear Grown Up.” Instead, they SQUEAL with delight. They clap their chubby little hands together, maybe do a little happy dance, and often wrap themselves around us as an expression of thanks. And in that moment, how do we respond? WE squeal with delight. WE clap our hands too. WE do a little happy dance. WE soak up the joy of a big bear hug and squeeze them right back.
When little ones are in want of something, they point. They may utter word or two like “mine” or “please” or “help me”. If they lose patience with us, they may try to get our attention by stomping around a little…huffing and puffing…and maybe even throw a full on fit. However, if we can give them what they desire, we typically do it. Sometimes grown ups make them wait. Sometimes grown ups say no. But the “not yet” or the “no” is never a result of the eloquence of the request. It is simply because the grown ups can see, better than the little one, the difference between what their children want and what they need.
Sometimes toddlers don’t know what they want. They are tired or hungry or frustrated or confused (or some of all of it) and they simply lift up their hands toward their grown up. And what do we do? We reach down and we pick them up. We rock them gently, we whisper words of comfort into their hair, we let them rest in the safety and comfort of our arms for a while. That’s a mighty sweet moment for a little one. It’s a mighty sweet moment for the grown up, too.
Of course, our earliest method of communication might be the most effective of all. Our cries usher us into this world as newborn babies. Grown Ups hold their breath waiting to hear it for the first time, and spend the rest of their lives responding to it. A grown up can differentiate between the cries of anger, hunger, sadness, injury, illness, drama (my poor mama especially on the drama one), exhaustion, etc. long before a child is able to articulate a single thought. Honestly, we were probably better communicators as babies than we are as full grown adults. Words can be misleading, but teardrops generally tell the tale.
But, the book of Matthew says that “unless we be as little children…”. Maybe we should simply ask with childlike faith, and then give God room to work. Goodness, perhaps we had our prayer life figured out as little ones and didn’t even know it. Is a squeal of delight a prayer? I think so. And so is clapping your hands, or doing a happy dance.
Is a one word request a prayer? I can tell you from experience that the answer is yes. I’ve uttered “please” and “help me” more in the last several months than I have in my entire life. God never once came back with “You must submit your work in complete sentences”. Not once. But He has countered with a “no” and a “not yet”. And even when His response causes me to have a full blown fit and fall in it, I trust that He sees, better than me, the difference between what I think I want and what He knows I need.
Is lifting up your hands as if to say, “Will you pick me up?” a prayer? Oh my goodness, yes. I think God delights in the moments when He can scoop you up and rock you gently, whispering “Rest in Me a while.” But just a warning…when He holds you in His hands, you’ll probably see me there as well. I find myself there an awful lot these days. No worries…I’ll scoot over. There’s more than enough room for all of us.
My sweet, precious friend…can you pray through your teardrops? This one I know for sure. God is, indeed, close to the brokenhearted. In the moments when I have felt His unmistakable presence, and on the few occasions when I have audibly heard His voice, there was one common denominator. Each event occured when I cried out to the Lord, when my despair trickled down my cheeks in a slow, steady stream.
Perhaps heartbreak opens our lines of communication because our Lord himself can relate. After all, God had a boy once. A boy that He loved so very much. He knew His boy would die. And, near the end, that boy asked His Father wasn’t there any other way? And His Father had to tell him no. Don’t you know that broke His heart? So, I know without a doubt that God heard my cries the night I lost Joe and all the nights since. Because he knows what it’s like to love the sweetest boy, to want so much for him to live, to watch him die so young.
About a week ago, I stood in the kitchen having a conversation with Cameron, my 17 year old almost grown boy. As he asked me a question, he slipped up and called me Mommy. Did I love it?? Oh, yes I did. 😊 I also realized that even though my children think they are grown, deep inside they will probably always need their mama just a little.
Prayer does not win God to our view—it reveals God’s view to us. For me, God’s view is this: We are forever safe in the arms of our Father. He delights in our childlike faith, and He hears our prayers even in their most basic form. From our first newborn cry to our last, God’s heartstrings are tethered to our own…simply because we are His children. We are His children, even when we think we’re grown. And we will forever need our Grown Up. 💗
-Words of Wisdom from The Book of Joe