It’s been years since I first heard the idea that prayer is more than making requests to God and even more than praising Him, but continuous openness to God.
Some of my favorite words of past saints on prayer:
“This hard place in which you perhaps find yourself, is the very place in which God is giving you opportunity to look only to Him, to spend time in prayer, and to learn patience, gentleness, meekness—in short, to learn the depths of the love that Christ Himself has poured out on you.” Elisabeth Elliot
“Each prayer-beat down here vibrates up to the very throne of God, and does its work through that throne on the principalities and powers around us… We can never tell which prayer will liberate the answer, but we can tell that each one will do its work.” Lilias Trotter
“Allow the soul to remain in peace and quietness, although it may seem clear to them that they are doing nothing and are wasting their time, and although it may appear to them that it is because of their weakness that they have no desire in that state to think of anything. The truth is that they will be doing quite sufficient if they have patience and persevere in prayer without making any effort… but contenting themselves with merely a peaceful and loving attentiveness toward God, and in being without anxiety, without the ability and without desire to have experience of Him or to perceive Him. For all these yearnings disquiet and distract the soul from the peaceful quiet and sweet ease of contemplation which is here granted to it.” St. John of The Cross
“To be grateful for an unanswered prayer, to give thanks in a state of interior desolation, to trust in the love of God in the face of the marvels, cruel circumstances, obscenities, and commonplaces of life is to whisper a doxology in darkness.” Brennan Manning
I’m breathing words and feelings and honesty to God all. day. long. This season is particularly challenging for me in a variety of ways.
And sometimes God is SO gracious to give me a real sense of comfort or perspective right away when I ask.
But many times, my prayer doesn’t change my mood. It’s not a formula or magic spell, and I’m not a robot where someone can simply press the ‘recalibrate’ button.
It doesn’t leave me frustrated necessarily, but it does make me crave a way to be okay with it.
If I’m already overwhelmed or disappointed or hurt, and my asking and leaning into the Lord doesn’t change my mood, I don’t want to compound the feelings by aiming more disappointment, weariness or hurt at Him.
This is where I landed. The root of any interaction I have with Him is: He’s always God and I still come. And keep coming.
No matter the fruit that is blooming slow or overflowing or small. No matter the branches He’s painfully pruning. No matter the size of the tree I’ve got going. He is worthy of my trust and obedience. And I am His.
This is the point, I think. For a sustainable life with God. Regardless of my mood, what He gives or takes, how I feel about myself or my circumstances.
It’s not a magic formula. And I’m not a robot.
Will I come?
And will I keep coming?
Moment by moment, I’m kept in His love;D. W. Whittle
Moment by moment I’ve life from above;
Looking to Jesus till glory doth shine;
Moment by moment, O Lord, I am Thine.