Every Sunday morning, I work in a children’s environment called “Upstreet” at my church. At the end of every message in large group, the speaker always says a prayer. The special “prayer music” comes on and we all instinctively bow our heads and put our hands together. I teach kindergarteners, so I’ll often have a child in my lap at this point. It’s also usually freezing, so I am always glad to have the extra warmth. This is the moment when everything “gets serious”. The prayer is when we are actually talking to God, so we all feel that we really need to get quiet and contemplate. I personally have no problem with this. However, I think that it’s easy to think sometimes that an intense “God moment” setting like this one is the only time and way to pray.
Prayer was never intended to be limited to just the deep “God moments” in life. It isn’t something special that only happens when we are feeling like “getting real” with God after a church talk. It’s much better than that. It is a special dialogue between you and God. And it isn’t supposed to just stop when you unclasp your hands.
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
I think that the idea of prayer these days has become so formal. Prayer is a conversation that helps build our relationship with Jesus. However, when we stick the word “prayer” on it, somehow it becomes some really intense idea that people tend to shy away from. I am not saying to stop calling prayers “prayers”. There is power in the word. When someone says they are praying for you, it means a lot more than if they had said they were going to be thinking of you. Prayer has some serious implications because it brings God into the scenario. I fully support this. Therefore, what I am trying to explain here is not the idea of prayer, but the ACTION of prayer. People hear “prayer” and it can be daunting for both non-Christians and Christians alike. It sounds important, as if all of a sudden a person becomes super religious when they use it. Because of this, I would like to begin this post by clearing up exactly what “prayer” is. Yes, I know I am going back to the basics of “how to be a Christian 101”. However, I think we need to be reminded every once in a while of the root of the things we do as Christians. It is easy to get sucked into a routine of Christian things without knowing why we do them. Prayer is just one awesome, yet simple thing:
Speaking to God like He is sitting right there in your living room with a cup of coffee.
I added the coffee part simply because I believe God wants to have conversations with us like our best friend (and because I happen to be sipping on coffee as I write this). He wants to hear what we have to say without an “I’m a perfect Christian” filter put on it. He is our loving Father. He CARES what you have to say. He does not want us to hold anything back. Our prayers are not on display for others to see. They are personal- between you and your loving Father. How hard you squash your hands together or how tight your eyes are closed has absolutely nothing to do with the purpose of prayer, despite some pop cultural beliefs. Open up the window in your living room, and throw out the formalities. It’s not how you pray, but WHAT you are praying for that matters. That’s the part God cares most about. He wants to hear you speak. And yes, I recognize that He already knows what is rolling around in our hearts and minds. However, drawing closer to Jesus by actually SPEAKING to Him not only strengthens your relationship with Him (because naturally, talking to someone helps you get to know them), but releases you from feeling like you are running from God all the time. We sin everyday. It’s time to stop pretending like we have it all together. Formulating a prayer is not supposed to be rocket science. Trying to gather everything up at the end of the day and put on a good face for God in our prayers is a waste of time. He already knows your sins and failures. Letting them out to Him is FREEING…for YOU. God wants to hear you speak and give you that freedom. Plus, the more you speak to Him, the more He responds. So give Him your all. He will give you His, and that’s greater than anything we could ever imagine.
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29
However, prayer has even more power than finding a resting place for your soul.
If anything at all, prayer brings people together in His Name. Which is what God wants. He wants us to come together and find a common ground to stand on. Something to fight for together. Whether the prayer be while sitting in a foreign country as a united mission team, or sitting at a Thanksgiving table as a united family, there’s something special about it. Even if you don’t really feel united at the time…even if there are feelings of hurt among you…prayer, if for a moment, can seem to temporarily push those things behind you and bind you. Prayers can be awkward, forced, and misunderstood. But one thing I think we all tend to forget about these so called “prayers” we learned about in Sunday school is that every single one of them is HEARD. Every one is taken into account. Not one is cast off into the wind never to be found. God finds them and hears them. It’s truly incredible to think that our God is so massive and amazing that He takes each of our seven billion souls into account on a second by second or millisecond-by-millisecond basis (it is probably even more intense than that but math is not my thing). Despite what social media would like you to think, somebody out there always cares about what you think and say. It’s so easy to get caught up in the idea that amidst the countless Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter accounts, we are just another digital image among them…another digital image without real worth. Without real power. Without the ability, against the noise of statuses, posts, and likes, to have our voice be truly HEARD. We think that all of the other more urgent problems in the world come before our small needs. We can get stuck in the zone of “Oh no, what a shame- Ebola just hit Africa. Looks like what I’m praying for just got bumped way down the list.” It doesn’t work that way. GOD doesn’t work that way. He loves each us here and now- right where we are. Therefore, He also responds to us right where we are…no matter what else is happening in this chaotic world. I can tell you that there will always be trouble in this world greater than yours….but there is also no God greater than ours. One thing I think we all struggle with is not simply the prayer itself. Releasing words and hoping that God hears them is one thing (which He does). But another very touchy subject that often leads to people dropping Christianity all together, is the subject of getting ANSWERS to prayer. How do we know when it has been answered? Why does God answer in the ways He does? Why would the answer be “no” to something I prayed so hard for? The answer to our questions about answers can actually be simplified more than you may think. It looks a little like this:
God has a plan. We don’t know what it is.
God’s plan is perfect. Ours is not.
He is holding the life pen. We are not.
God knows the future. We do not.
He knows what is best for us. We do not.
We think we do, but we don’t.
Ouch. As a human, that can be very humbling. We have absolutely no true power over the future. And honestly, we shouldn’t because of how truly broken and messed up we are inside. Just think of the perfect life Jesus lived. When I say perfect life, I do not mean that everything went His way. He was made fun of, beaten, killed, and hung on a cross. And of course, He rose on the third day- but that’s a different story. While He walked this earth, He was faced with many temptations, some even straight from the devil Himself in the desert.
“And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.” Luke 4:13
Any of us imperfect individuals would most likely have caved at some point if we had lived the life of Jesus. That’s just who we are. I know that I personally could not have lived such a loving life if so many people were out to murder me. And even if I didn’t do anything about it, the bitterness would still live in my heart for my persecutors. That’s proof of my imperfection. Jesus, though He did not physically desire the pain of dying on the cross or being beaten, He did not harbor feelings of hatred for those that persecuted Him. He loved them unconditionally. He overflowed with the desire to save them. To save US. That’s why He did what He did. He knew the price that needed to be paid, and He paid it in full. He even pardoned his persecutors as He was dying. What human like us does that?
“And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments.” `Luke 23:34
So all of this goes to show that if anyone is going to write out the future, it should NOT be us. It should be written by sinless and perfect hands. If anyone is going to have the best answer to prayer, it is going to be Jesus, not us. He is intentional in His ways, even if we do not understand them at the time. There’s a purpose for everything. And often He presents that purpose to you when you least expect it. I can tell you personally that I have prayed on multiple occasions for things and have had them answered at the most random times. Usually, it was when I had completely forgotten about the prayer I had made. That just goes to show that God not only hears your prayers, but NEVER FORGETS them either. When you realize in your heart that a prayer has been answered, everything changes. You feel humbled, in awe, and straight up excited that God made you part of His bigger plan. It’s not a plan we could ever predict either. The reason we sometimes get frustrated with God’s plans is that we expect our lives to play out like movies. Movies are pretty predictable. We would like to be able to predict God’s plans for our lives. Let’s put this into perspective. There are two types of movies: the low budget ones and the high budget ones. While we usually can predict the endings of both, the higher budget ones tend to have us a bit more stumped as to what the ending will be. Do you want to live an extremely predictable, low budget life movie? Or do you want to live a completely unpredictable and priceless life movie? The second one is a lot more entertaining, I promise. Watching it unfold is more suspenseful and fun. See, when you pray, you can’t expect the answers to be predictable. Just because the plot ends up being different from what you expected does NOT mean it’s a bad movie. Every movie has its highs and lows, just like real life. When God is the director of your life movie, only one thing in the plot is stable: His love for you. With that in mind, we need to trust that what He has planned is always best. This means that the answers to our prayers may not be what we want, but what is most beneficial to us in the long run. However, one thing I do know for sure is that He will answer our prayers when the time is right.
This brings me to another important point- probably one of the most pressing parts of prayer…how much TIME it takes for God to answer your prayers. Our society is based on the principle of instant gratification. Think about it. We are all obsessed with speed. The speed of the internet. The speed of our cars. The speed of delivery. We can get anything we want faster and faster without blinking an eye these days. We no longer have to wait to hang out with people to talk with them. We can text them. You can reach across the globe to people of other countries in seconds. We no longer have to wait to get home to our desktop computers to look up information about a topic. It’s all in the palm of our hands…and we can find it IMMEDIATELY. Like a guy or girl? You can stalk them and find information about them IMMEDIATELY through social media. Obsessed with a television series? Forget recording it or waiting for it to come on. Just go on Netflix or Xfinity On Demand to watch it. We are all so unaccustomed to the idea of WAITING on anything anymore. It’s no wonder that we struggle with waiting on God to answer our prayers. This process of having patience and waiting is what often leads people to doubt God or go astray. We think that if the prayer isn’t answered when we want it to be that the prayer was never really heard or cared about. This goes back to the whole “God only cares about the big problems in this world” mentality. So we leave God…thinking we can create our luck by trying to answer our own prayers in an attempt to force the desired result. We want to mold our lives to our liking in the amount of TIME we wish. In theory, it can sound like a good idea at the TIME. But the issue here is that we do not control time. God does. Therefore, we do not know what is going to happen in the FUTURE time that could impact our humanly thought out plans.
Life is like walking on a bridge through fog. We can only see a short way in front of us. We assume that making a change at this point of the bridge will help us through the bridge further down. This very well could be the case. Preparing for the future is a good thing. However, what we fail to often take into account is that there may be unforeseen breaks in the bridge further down. This is the time we don’t see. As I touched on earlier, what may happen in the TIME in the future is unpredictable. This is why we need not to rush God’s timing NOW. We do not know what time holds in the future. Plus, there may just be a better bridge that God is leading you to. If we just keep focusing on the one bridge and how we want to walk on it, we may end up missing the detour God wants us to find. And trust me, His bridge is always going to be better than your bridge. It just may take extra TIME to find it. This waiting time for answers may not always seem convenient or make sense, but it is always worth it. Another thing that I have learned when waiting on God is that the reason He waits to answer our prayers is because we need more time in order to be PREPARED for the blessings He has in store for us. Certain things in this life can be made more significant or be more appreciated if one has experienced something in particular ahead of it. If you do not remember a single thing in this article about answers to prayers, know this: God’s timing is perfect.
So, how on earth does this apply to the “Titanium” series? Because when you pray to Jesus, your prayers are like titanium. They last forever. God hears them and never lets them waste away or lose value. Titanium has three key qualities: strength, a light weight, and a high resistance to heat. A titanium prayer is one that is made with full belief in God’s plan for his or her life. This is what makes a prayer truly titanium strong: faith in God and His unconditional love. This also includes, as expanded upon earlier, faith in His timing. Titanium prayers are also lightweight because they release to God the burdens that have been weighing down on our hearts. He takes these heavy burdens and molds them into something beautiful in only a way that He could do. Lastly, titanium prayers are resistant to the “heat” of this world because nothing physical here can intercept a prayer. No power here can keep God from hearing our calls to Him. The best part about our titanium prayers to Jesus is that not only are our prayers not intercepted by any force or power, but the ANSWERS to them aren’t either. God’s way is THE way. Nothing can stop His plan for you when you trust Him.
“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38
The connection between you and God…through prayer…is stronger than titanium.