an invitation to intimacy

March 17th, 2017 | Posted by

I don’t remember when I was first taught to say my prayers, but it was early in my childhood. I was taught certain prayers and expected to say them word perfect. Frankly, I must have been an unspiritual kid because saying prayers never really engaged my heart. Prayer was just part of my daily routine.

 

Fast-forward years later, when Greg and I had our own children. We didn’t teach them to recite pre-written prayers. We wanted them to pray what was in their hearts. But we discovered that when they were old enough, the children took our words and came up with their own “formula” prayers!

There is something in us, isn’t there, that tries to reduce prayer to a method, a formula that we memorize, recite and repeat.

“Bless me, help me, forgive me, go with me, protect me…”

 

Most everyone prays at some time. In the car alone, over meals together, and most fervently in a crisis. But if we’re honest, we have to admit that the majority of our prayers consist mainly of personal requests. We may pray for others—our families, our friends, the sick, or the lost—but we come back to our own needs again and again.

Try this thought out for a moment. Has there ever been a person you wanted to develop a relationship with, but it never seemed to go anywhere? You fell for them but they didn’t fall for you. They were polite and kind, but stayed distant.

It may be like that with your kids. No matter how hard you try, they just won’t open up and let you in.

 

Or perhaps it’s a friendship. You know you would have so much in common.

They would be someone to hang out with, to eat and laugh and talk with. But they always seem to be busy and eventually, you get the message. They are disinterested.

When a relationship we hope will go to a deeper level doesn’t, it can be frustrating. You cannot force somebody to draw closer.

 

Long ago, I had a friend who had been married for ten years. As often happens, they got busy doing the things you need to do to provide for a family, a home, pay bills, raise the kids, plan for a secure future.

There was a time when they were so in love, dating, making time for each other, talking, sharing their dreams. But over time, even though they were still polite and (technically) still communicated, it became obvious they were out of touch with each other. “Did you remember to pick up the dry cleaning?” “Did you deposit that check like I asked you to?”  No real “issues” that I could see, no disagreements to speak of—they just drifted into a cold and distant marriage. They were together . . . and alone.

When I think of that couple, I determined I never wanted to end up that way.

 

Is that how it is in our spiritual lives? Is that the way our Heavenly Father feels when our prayers are only a passing thought, offered when it’s convenient or when we’re in desperate need?

Prayer is meant to bring us into a personal relationship with the heart of God, in intimate and meaningful two-way communication. Throughout scripture, the Triune God calls to us, inviting us to come get quietly away and alone, and talk to Him.

 

  • As God did in the garden, in the cool of the day calling, “Adam, where are you?” (Genesis 3:8-9)
  • As Jesus did, weeping over the city of Jerusalem saying, “How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you were not willing.” (Matthew 23:37)
  • As in the last book of the Bible we hear, “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ Let the one who hears say, ‘Come!’ Let the one who is thirsty come!” (Revelation 22:17)

 

Yet how often we respond to God’s call, to Jesus’ cry, to the Spirit’s invitation with quick, shallow prayers. We repeat the same worn-out phrases to Jesus, who by His life, death and resurrection, has opened the way for us to come to our Father in heaven any time—any place—as often as we can.

It has been said that we fail in private before we ever fail in public.

I confess that, for me, it’s much easier to work on my Bible study but harder to prioritize prayer. Prayer requires greater humbling and dependence before God. Everything in me will fight self-denial and humility. This is very hard indeed.

 

Dear Lord,

We confess that so often we allow our prayers to be interrupted and cut short by almost any distraction. How often we place our activity before this vital time in Your presence. How often we prefer to work rather than to sit and worship and listen to You.  

Help us realize that to be without prayer is, in a very real sense, to be without You.

You are our Life, our Hope, our Treasure.

 




21 Comments

  1. Bill Jarocki says:

    Cathe:

    I’m not exactly sure why I ended up on the Virtue for Women list serve, but I have to tell you that the Holy Spirit knows! And He knows that today that I wanted to read your remarks on how we pray. You expressed for me what I’ve been thinking for some time. Thank you for your words. You are blessed and you blessed me today.

    — Bill J in Helena

  2. Sharon says:

    Cathe,
    Thank you so much for this particular devotion! Through Lent there is a small group of us from our church doing a study on prayer. This devotional has given me some items to bring to the group. It is always comforting to know there are others who pray the same prayers day after day because it is easy and comfortable. I find it difficult to settle my mind and heart in order to find the words and subject(s) I really need to be praying about instead of myself all the time.

    Thank you for your outreach,
    Your sister in Christ,
    Sharon

    • Edna Merino says:

      I was just thinking of this last night, and for the past few nights. I agree with Cathe, the Holy Spirit does know what we need and are thirsty for. Thank you so very much for posting this. It has brought some light to my thoughts. Thank you again.

  3. Mark J says:

    Like Bill J said, I don’t know how I got on the list serve but I needed to read this today. Praise the
    Holy Spirit because He knows.
    Thank you

  4. Darcy says:

    Great reminder and great analogies (and thank you for adding that you struggle with it as well).

  5. Irene Hansen says:

    I have really enjoyed the Virtue Women’s study on prayer (watching on the Harvest app) Are there bible study workbooks that accompany that study? Are they available for purchase? Note: I live in Canada May God bless both the gifted teachers and all those that participate!

    • Virtue says:

      Thanks for writing, Irene. We are glad you’re enjoying the study on prayer, and yes! You can download the study lessons for free by going to harvest.virtue.org and click on the V2 Virtue Bible study link. God bless you!

  6. Lisa Galloway says:

    Cathe,
    Wow! This can be the situation for many. Myself its the case more than I’m ashamed to say. But you said it so well when you said that prayers requires a humbleness and independence to God. It was well said. Thank you for sharing this remarkable insight.
    God bless
    Lisa Galloway

  7. Rebecca says:

    Dear Cathe,
    This post blessed me today. Particularly not being able to force others to draw closer. Thank you for this word.

  8. Gilda says:

    Whoa…I’m sure you’ve heard the saying that God works in mysterious ways, well, it’s so true. Just this morning when in prayer I confessed that often my prayers must seem so repetitive and simple. And as you mentioned earlier, my prayers are almost always for family, friends, others that I’ve come in contact who are dealing with sickness or difficult situations, my church, those that are lost and of course myself. I thank God for so very many blessings in my life and the lives of others. I know God is listening & wants the best for me and at times I feel this overwhelming closeness with Him, yet sometimes I feel a disconnect or I get distracted with other thoughts.

    Your email let me know I’m not alone and my prayers for a closer relationship with God do not go unheard.
    Thank you so much for sharing your faith filled message about your prayer experience. It touched my heart.

  9. Diana says:

    Thank you for your reading. I am in a “pause in prayer “part in my life. It seems I have time for everything but prayer due to the repetitiveness. I have to admit in all honesty there’s something I am missing inside me and your reading today reminded me of just exactly that is.. that personal one on one relationship that comes only with prayer and oneness with our God. After over 15 years of walking with Him there comes peace with prayer there’s no doubt about that ! There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus and every day’s a new day so, I will focus on beginning my prayer life again thank you for the reminder.

  10. Renee Hartman says:

    May we all learn and realize how precious time with God is. I pray we would see it as something we absolutely need and desire in our lives. May God keep distractions and interruptions away, may we remember that the other half of prayer is listening.

  11. Candace Day says:

    For many years I was guilty of what you said – having a formula…repeating the same phrases day in and day out … But as I began to spend more time in His Word I was convicted to begin truly thinking about my prayers – He knows my needs and the needs of those I am praying for before I utter the words. I began meditating on my needs and the needs of others but also thinking on the goodness of the Lord… His steadfastness, His mercy, His love… I have read scripture in prayer form, speaking His Words back to Him. Recently I do this first thing in the morning before my feet hit the floor.
    Romans 12:1 in the morning…
    Lord may I be a living sacrifice to You…holy and acceptable in spiritual service to you today.
    And in the evening when I crawl back into bed, Romans 12:2…
    Lord as I lay me down to rest don’t let me be conformed to this world but transform me by the renewing of my mind that I may discern Your will for my life, that which is good & acceptable & perfect.

  12. Connie Harrison says:

    Thank you Cathe for hitting the nail right on target of prayer…I think of the nails that held Jesus’ hands to the cross, but it was Jesus who went willingly and yield to the Fathers will not his own. I love when I’m in God’s Word and will pray over Scripture for someone or even for my own needs and make it so personal by putting in the person’s name.
    But then when you don’t have the Bible in your hands and you’re driving or walking, God will put people on your heart to pray for, and it’s up to us to take that obedience and lift them up to the Lord. Yes, it’s easy to ignore and just do your own thing, but when we do act and pray, what great benefits and blessings it is especially when you see that person you were praying for and they told you what they were going through at that time you were praying for them….
    Thank you again Cathe for all the hard labor of God’s love to all of us❤

  13. Mwende says:

    Ha! Love this particular blog post so much as I can’t even begin telling you how easily I get distracted when am about to pray. Hoping that I will begin to be authentic with God and more that I will create time with God every single day. Not only so He can bless me but more that I could fall in love with Him and that I would know Him for who He is ❤

  14. Cathy says:

    Thank you Cathe for the reminder of how important prayer is, it holds such a blessing!

  15. Christi Robillard says:

    I love this! Thank you for sharing your heart and the encouragement to draw into real time with Jesus. I also enjoyed reading the comments already posted…clearly this is a timely word! Love you!

  16. Christy says:

    I love this because I can just be up “doing” life and realize that my conversations with the Lord fall short. I think when I’m desperate for Him to rescue me I am more inclined to cry out. But truly I want to be desperate for him each and every day. Desperate for his wisdom, his peace, his hand in my daily decisions.
    Thank you for the encouragement
    Blessings!

  17. Elsina says:

    Dear Cathe,

    Thank you so much. Sometimes I feel that prayer is just a repetition that we are always asking from God. But now I know even just be still He already knew what is on our mind. He wants a relationship between father and His children.
    You are a blessing and God bless you and your family.

  18. Daniela says:

    Thank You Cath, Somehow you knew !!! It was this morning I decided to have a no distraction with God and Pray One on One. I felt so good !!! it was as if I was there in His presence. Amazing !!! And then I came into work, looked at my emails and saw your post on Prayer. WOW !!! Cathy May God continue to Bless you with words of encouragement to your women who Listen to you, who love and share God’s love for others and want a deep relation with Him !!! Blessings to You and Your Family !!!

  19. Debbie Zamora says:

    Hi Cathe, Thank you so much for sending this. I have a daughter that I love very much and wanted to be close to her; we were once close and things happened between us and I have tried and tried to be close and she will not have it. It is hard. I pray for her and still love her very much; this message made me think about my Jesus and I love Him very much and want to be closer to My Jesus my Savior. I love the bible verses you sent. Genesis 3:8-9 really talked to me and thank you for all the other bible verses too, I appreciate it! I want to pray to Jesus and have that relationship closer to Him Jesus my Savior!

    Thank you, have a great weekend and look forward to talking to you again.

    God’s Love, peace and joy!

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