I've been a believer all my life. Yet, understanding how prayer works, how to pray effectively, and even understanding why I want to learn this, came much, much later.
There is something about having God's ear, about knowing that he is not only listening to me, but he wants to listen, to help, to be a part of my life. This deep-hearted understanding has helped to keep me from feeling alone.
Isn't it crazy how alone we can feel at times, even in a world full of people, even in a house full of family? We think that nobody understands us. That nobody really cares. That nobody is listening.
I'm here to tell you that is a lie from the enemy.
It's not true. You are valuable. You have been created for a purpose here on earth and into eternity. God paid a great price so that you can get close to Him.
Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows. Luke 12:6-7 (ESV)
Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God."
I clearly remember this one Father's Day. I was probably around 7 or 8 years old and sitting in Sunday school. We were to make cards for our fathers.
Ugh. I hated Father's Day because it reminded me that I was lacking in something important that most kids had: A daddy.
I folded the blank piece of construction paper, thinking that I might make one for Grandpa. He was a father figure in my life. He took me fishing, and told me stupid jokes, and made me feel like I was someone special.
But it wasn't the same. Not really. Grandpa wasn't always around. Matter-of-fact, I only saw him maybe once a week. We were a close-knit family, but everyone was busy and I wasn't the only grandkid in the lot.
I remember setting down my crayon and turning to the teacher. "I don't want to make a card. I don't have a dad, so why bother?"
She sipped her cup of water and watched me for a long moment. Finally, she set down the cup and leaned forward on her elbows. "You do have a father, though."
"No," I said. "I don't remember him. He left when I was a baby."
She waved her hand dismissively. "Not your biological father. You have a real Father in God. He loves you. He considers all of us as His children, and that includes you. You can talk to him, by praying. He will never leave you. He will always be there when you need him, if only you will let him be the father that you wish you had."
If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sins and heal their land.
Now, I don't know why that day, or her words, have stuck with me all this time. But they did.
I walked out of that class and went straight for Grandma because she knew everything, and I mean everything, about God. She talked to him every day. And he, evidently, talked to her.
I marched up to her and told her what my Sunday school teacher had said. My Granny’s response? “Well, of course, he wants to be your heavenly Father.”
It was true!
From that day on, when someone asked me about my father, I told them about God. He became the father I never had physically. My Grandpa remained a stand-in father figure. Why, he was the one who walked me down the aisle at my wedding.
But to this day, when I have a problem or need help with something, I go to Father God for help first. And he has proven to be the best Father I could have ever wanted.
(Sometimes, I still make cards for him on Father’s day).
Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you," says the Lord....
If we treat prayer the same way we treat conversing with friends and family, those prayers will intertwine throughout all areas of our lives. Gone will the fifteen minutes spent on a quick devotion and a shallow to-do list prayer. Instead, we can begin to experience an ongoing conversation with Father God that we have all day, every day.
This is how to include Him in our lives. Converse with Him. Include Him. Call on Him when the storms come and praise Him for His protection over your life. But also talk to him about the little things: such as how pleased you are about finding a parking spot close to the front doors of a store, or the beauty of nature, or how you accomplished something that nobody else will ever care about.
Yes, the big and little things. More on this later. I promise because this is important.
In the coming weeks, I'll be talking more about how to pray effectively and how to document and keep track of your prayers, and the answers that come from them.
Until next time...
Be blessed and thrive.
Jackie Castle is an author, artist and dreamer. She lives in Texas with her husband, two grown children and her dog, Banjo. She looks for the extraordinary in the ordinary in everything she experiences.