Overhwhelmed by Prayer

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This morning, I did a Google search on the phrase, “Overwhelmed by Prayer.” Interestingly, there were many results, but all of them revolved around prayers for when you’re feeling overwhelmed, which is another subject entirely. I wanted information on what to do when prayer itself felt so overwhelming that my first instinct is to quit praying altogether.

Before I go any further, I feel I should remind you of a book review I did recently on the book, Fervent, which is a book about prayer. And while I found the book tremendous and helpful, it deals primarily with prayer for oneself. It’s important to pray for ourselves. Heaven knows we need it! But what about praying for others? Does the prospect of praying for everyone every day seem overwhelming to anyone besides me?

I’m an over-thinker. I’ll be the first to admit that. So, when I sit down to pray, my mind shifts into overdrive. Who do I pray for today? For what do I pray? How long should I pray? My prayer list contains dozens of individual names plus the names of churches and missionaries around the globe. Then, of course, there are requests like praying for our country, our government, and specifically, our president. Then, the more general requests like praying for the lost and the people of Wales. The more I look at the list, the more daunting prayer becomes. Instead of a sweet time of peace and fellowship with the Lord, it becomes a duty and a dread. No wonder I want to quit. The perfectionist in me says, “If I can’t do it all and do it right, it’s better not to try at all.”

This is a topic I’ve been thinking and praying about for some time. (Is it ironic that I’ve been praying about how to pray better?) Anyway, this morning, I finally had a breakthrough.

First off, God reminded me that He is not impressed by my prayers or lack thereof. It’s not the words I say or how often I say them. It’s the intent and motivation of the heart. God is more concerned that my prayers come from a spirit of love and compassion than from a long list of those I feel obligated to pray for.

Second, God reminded me there is no right or wrong way to pray. Yes, Jesus gave us a model prayer in the Bible, but if we look at that, it’s not a litany of “God bless so-and-so, and God help so-and-so.” If we ask God to guide us to whom we should pray for and how often, He will do just that. It may be a single name or maybe a group. That’s up to Him.

Thirdly, God directed me to an app to help organize my scattered thoughts and to overcome the overwhelm when it comes to prayer. Yes, there really is an app for that, and it’s called PrayerMate. This app allows you to organize your requests into groups of your choosing (family, personal, missionaries, etc.). You can add as much or as little information about each request as you want. Then, each day, the app randomly selects one request from each group (or from as many groups as you choose). All you do is swipe through and pray for those requests. The next day, you’ll receive a prayer prompt (again, if you choose), and you’ll have a new list for the day. How cool is that? With this app, I feel like I’m praying for everyone (though not all at once), which gives me more time to be specific and personal. Then, if the Lord lays someone else on my heart that day, I can pray for them too. To me, it’s a perfect balance.

Now, I have just installed the app this morning and haven’t even finished setting it up, so I can’t yet testify to its overall effectiveness. But, I can say I’m intrigued by the idea and already feel a sense of calm about having organized my prayer life. I’ll keep you up to date on my progress and let you know if the Lord gives me any other insights.

Prayer is a gift. It shouldn’t feel like a burden. It should be a time and place to release our burdens, but it often feels like a burden itself. I am convinced this is a tactic of the enemy. He longs to have us running in circles and feeling so inadequate we settle for doing nothing rather than doing something imperfectly. But, as I’ve already mentioned, if we’re talking with God from our heart, there’s no wrong way to do that. What’s wrong is when we stop talking to Him altogether.

Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
— Romans 8:26-27

Beyond Amazed

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When I was in school, I had a best friend. We did everything together. We did sleepovers at each other’s homes. We were inseparable. . .until the day she left. Not only did her parents join another church, but they also sent my friend to a new school.  I was devastated! Who would I play with? Who would join me for Sunday School? Who would listen to my stories, have my back, and be my shoulder to cry on?

Despite the separation, we stayed close throughout our teen years and even throughout college. Though we attended different churches and schools, we still had one common thread—we were studying to become teachers. For a few years, that was enough to keep our friendship intact, but as the years passed and she became a mother, suddenly things changed. We had nothing in common in more. We didn’t travel in any of the same circles or share any of the same friends. All we had was the past, but despite our efforts to hold things together, we grew apart. Yes, we’re still friends, but we’re not close. At least, not like we used to be.

Recently, I’ve felt that same sting of loneliness as I said “Goodbye” to my former way of life and the friends who shared in that. Now, please understand, my friends haven’t abandoned me, but things are not the same. Most of my closest friends are members of our church, but because Jason and I are in a different church every week (and sometimes every service) during this deputation journey, I rarely get to see these precious ladies. So, in a sense, it feels like I’ve lost them, like we no longer have anything in common.  

During my devotion time last week, I poured out my heart to God and told Him how much I longed to hold on to my existing friendships and to make some new friends, specifically ladies with whom I have a lot in common. Since deputation is my current way of life and the way of life for the foreseeable future, I felt missionary wives would make a good fit, but how would that work exactly?  After all, we’re all busy doing our own thing, trying to make things fit while traveling the road week after week. How could I connect with these women, let alone maintain a friendship? I didn’t know the answer to any of these questions, but I pleaded with God to help me make friends with someone (or many someones) who truly understood where I am right now.

Later that same day, I received an invitation to join a Facebook group for missionary wives. My jaw dropped as I read the description of this group that was formed so missionary wives could fellowship together and not feel so alone.  The group was designed to be an encouragement to those on the field and deputation. And best of all, what is said in the group stays within the group. It was an answer to prayer. (And I didn’t even know God used Facebook!)

Through this situation, God reminded me how much He loves and cares for me. To anyone else, my longing for friendship probably seemed frivolous and selfish. With all the problems going on in the world, who cares if one little insecure redhead is feeling lonely? God does. He cared enough to send me an answer on that very day. He cared enough to send not one potential friend, but hundreds. He cared enough to speak to another missionary wife and whisper to her to send the invitation to me. All of that and more so that I would feel I had someone to talk to who understood what I was going through. That, my friend, is how much God cares.

And that’s how much He cares for you. No problem is too big. No situation is too small. You may think your request is silly or insignificant, but if it’s important to you, it’s important to God. So, don’t hold back your requests. Let Him know what You need. Pour out your heart to Him. And stand back and watch as He proves His love and devotion to you in ways you’ve never imagined.  

Together, we can marvel at God’s goodness. Yes, my friend, as I bask in answered prayer and the love of my Father, I find myself beyond amazed! I pray you will enjoy the same blessing.

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?
— Matthew 7:7-11



Fervent: A Woman's Battle Plan to Serious, Specific, and Strategic Prayer -- A Book Review

I haven’t posted a book review in a while, and I assure you, it’s not because I haven’t read any good books lately. I’ve been busy enough that the task of sitting down and writing a review seemed too great. But, with this book, I had to make an exception. This book has changed the way I view prayer and has made me feel much more like a warrior rather than a worrier. That being said, I knew I had to share it with you.

About the Book:

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You have an enemy . . . and he’s dead set on destroying all you hold dear and keeping you from experiencing abundant life in Christ. What’s more, his approach to disrupting your life and discrediting your faith isn’t general or generic, not a one-size-fits-all. It’s specific. Personalized. Targeted.
 
So this book is your chance to strike back. With prayer. With a weapon that really works. Each chapter will guide you in crafting prayer strategies that hit the enemy where it hurts, letting him know you’re on to him and that you won’t back down. Because with every new strategy you build, you’re turning the fiercest battles of life into precise strikes against him and his handiwork, each one infused with the power of God’s Spirit.
 
New York Times bestselling author Priscilla Shirer, widely known for her international speaking, teaching, and writing ministries, brings her new role from the 2015 film War Room into the real lives of today’s women, addressing the topics that affect them most: renewing their passion, refocusing their identity, negotiating family strife, dealing with relentless regrets, navigating impossible schedules, succeeding against temptation, weathering their worst fears, uprooting bitterness, and more. Each chapter exposes the enemy’s cruel, crafty intentions in all kinds of these areas, then equips and encourages you to write out your own personalized prayer strategies on tear-out sheets you can post and pray over yourself and your loved ones on a regular basis.
 
Fervent is a hands-on, knees-down, don’t-give-up action guide to practical, purposeful praying.

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About the Author:

Priscilla Shirer is a Bible teacher and conference speaker with a Master’s degree in Biblical Studies from Dallas Theological Seminary. Also a popular author, her books include the New York Times Best-Seller, The Resolution for WomenOne in a Million, and Life Interrupted. Priscilla is married to Jerry with whom she founded Going Beyond Ministries. They have three sons and live in Dallas, Texas.

My Review:

I’ve read a lot of books on prayer, but this was, by far, one of the best. I love the way the author portrays her fervency about prayer and compels the reader to find the same. As I read, I felt my heart hungering and thirsting for a more heart-felt prayer life. I recognized where my prayers seemed shallow and like rote repetitions and felt the urge to connect with God more deeply. The author also conveyed the importance and power of prayer, which is something I think most Christians do not take into account. So many times, we think of prayer as something we’re supposed to do instead of realizing it is something we are privileged to do. To speak with the Almighty God. To lay our burdens at His feet. And to do so, knowing He has the power to make all things right. Not only that, but through prayer, we have the power to resist temptations and to live the lives we long to live for God’s glory.

If you’re struggling with your prayer life, or if you feel your time with God has grown stale, I highly recommend this book. It will change your prayer life, and in turn, your entire existence. Prayer is powerful, and it changes lives—especially the life of the one doing the praying.