Hello wonderful ladies! My name is Emily, and I am very excited to continue to be apart of what God is doing through All the King’s Daughters. My husband and I are missionaries in South Asia. I don’t really like using the word “missionary” because it can often to lead to a false perception of “elite” Christianity, or a more spiritual person, which I’m excited to share with you upfront is NOT THE CASE. I’m a sinner who is desperate for the grace of God to be enough for me everyday.
To be honest, it’s a very difficult topic to write on. We don’t really like to read about it because, well, its prayer! Everyone knows how to pray. Everyone knows they should pray. Everyone feels like they don’t pray as much as they should. Everyone knows that prayer is a vital discipline in walking with Jesus. But we still struggle to set aside time, remove distractions, and commune with God.
So today I am writing to you of my personal experience. I am writing to you about how prayer has changed me. I am writing to you, praying that God would graciously use my words to encourage you on your own personal prayer journey with Him. I deeply desire for you to hunger for time alone with Jesus, taking in the wonder of intimacy with Him in prayer.
I, like a previous contributor, Denise, have experienced an evolving prayer life. My earliest memory of prayer is when I was 5 years old. I had just come home from Wednesday night church and asked my mom to meet me in my room upstairs. She came in and I asked her to pray with me, I wanted to ask Jesus to live in my heart. So my sweet mommy prayed with me. Fast forward 7 years. New to middle school, I would do anything to fit in. So, I started to cuss like the cool kids. Every time a word slipped from my lips I was eaten up with conviction, which then turned to self-condemnation. I would run home from school, pick up my bible, and pray and read it until I thought God loved me again. I thought God loved me because of what I did, I didn’t realize He loved me because of what Jesus did.
It wasn’t until I was 15 that I finally realized that my relationship with God was totally based on and because of Jesus! I didn’t have to earn God’s love, I couldn’t. I could never be good enough, so Jesus was good enough on my behalf. Jesus made a way for me to walk in relationship with God, free of condemnation and fear of judgement.
After truly knowing God and His overwhelming grace I experienced high highs, and low lows in my prayer life. In the beginning I was constantly talking with Him. He broke me over the lost in my high school. He gave me strength to rise early in the mornings and pray. He lead me to be bold and ask others if I could pray with them. I wanted to do anything He asked of me.
Then, the relationship grew comfortable. I started to enjoy sleep more than prayer. I knew the right things to say and could tell anyone what they wanted to hear. I would pray occasionally when I felt like it, and read my bible when it was convenient. During these times, the old self would creep back in. I would believe the lies “oh no, God doesn’t love me, I’m choosing other things over Him,” or “I’m so busy I will pray and read later,” and things like “it’s been so long, God won’t accept me”. All of these things, yet again, based on my actions and my works, not on Jesus’ work on the cross. It was always such a refreshing revelation when I would believe the goodness of the gospel again, but it was so inconsistent that it didn’t seem genuine.
I lived in the struggle of on and off prayer for many years, always trying to find my identity in being impressive and pleasing to God, not resting in the fullness of His salvation. It wasn’t until I got married and had a faithful, consistent, and powerful prayer life lived out before me. My husband was up early every morning communing with God. He would express frustration at times, that he was feeling distant from God, but He STILL got up to seek Him anyway. He taught me that God always answers prayer, even though sometimes the answer is “no“. He was a man that was filled with joy from prayer…a type of joy that nothing else could give him. He really loved God. He truly delighted in spending time with Him, and he wasn’t concerned about how God viewed him. He was confident, bold, and secure in the work Jesus did on the cross! He taught me what it meant to abide in Jesus, delighting in the beauty of God, not obsessing over if I was “good enough” for God on that day. Jesus was good enough for me. And that’s all I had to believe.
It was amazing to see my husband lead our family into true and joyful prayer. A few months after we got married we felt lead to move to South Asia. God continuously lead us to the truth “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain” (Psalm 127:1). He graciously empowered us to seek Him, listen for His voice, and cry out for Him to build the house. He answered our prayers, opened up doors, provided all we needed, and filled us with all the more love for Him. The last 2 years of living in South Asia has been a similar story. A story that cannot be explained without the hand of God moving through prayer.
In closing, I was talking with my husband about how awesome a specific time of prayer was for me when I was alone in the apartment. I mentioned how it is different when he is around, in the same room. His response was, “That’s not surprising, think of every other relationship you have. In order for the relationship to be healthy and fruitful there has to be intentional one-on-one time. Otherwise, you grow apart and don’t truly know one another anymore.” How true is this of our relationship with God! We must prioritize a time to seek His face, and talk with Him daily. He made a way for us to come to Him. When we look at the cross we see that God loves us, made a way for us, and reconciled us to Himself. One of the amazing benefits of our salvation is enjoying God through prayer.
I encourage you:
Go to Him.
“Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”
Seek His face.
“Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord.”
He loves you with an everlasting love.
“the Lord appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.”
He is worthy.
“Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.”