I have been thinking a lot lately about prayer. Not only the power of it, but the quality of it. Is there such thing as a good prayer vs a bad prayer? Or is there just a better prayer? Two weeks ago at church the service was all about prayer in desperation. It was super interesting, because prior to this I had never considered that there was perhaps a better way to pray during desperate times. The truth is - that this whole prayer concept is all still fairly new to me and I am just learning as I go along. The good thing is that I feel that I after listening to the service on desperation prayer, that I may have done a good job when I was in desperate measures, myself, although there is always room for improvement.
Lately, I have been feeling extremely lost. I have had a lot of “unknowns” in my life. Not really knowing which direction to go, which decision to make, which path to take... I was having a discussion with a good friend and I was telling her how I have been resorting to prayer instead of worry. I expressed to her that I have been asking God to show me a sign, to show me the way. She made a good point, which also got me thinking. She explained to me that with that prayer for a sign, that I also needed to pray to God that he would also help me to be aware of his signs, to know how to see it when it shows, and to understand how to read his signs. This was important for me, because the truth is, I actually have NO idea how to read signs - I probably MISread them all the time. And then things happen and I read into it too much, questioning, “does this mean I should do this?” or “does that mean I should do that”..... So I thought, ok.. ok.. I can do this - I can start also praying that God shows me how to distinguish his signs from false signs. And I optimistically think ...I am learning how to pray better. So the past week this is exactly what I have been doing - asking not only for a sign, but for the ability to know the sign when I see it.
Then last night I was listening to the service from this past Sunday on podcast and I was listening to this girl share her story. Somewhere in her story she explained the prayers she had with God. What I got out of her sharing of her prayer request & request for a sign, is that she was extremely specific. While I just pray and ask God for a sign, and to help me see the sign, which is very vague all in all, she actually requested a very specific sign. She was going to go on a mission trip & she asked very specifically for God to show her a sign that it was her calling to go, by providing her childcare, which he did, and which she did go on her trip. It was an “ah-hah” moment. Not that my prayer has been bad, it just has room to better... Instead of vaguely asking for a sign, of which there are false signs thrown into our face daily, and now I have to ask for the strength and ability to see the correct sign, which is a two step process, now I realize that I can pray for and request specific signs to help lead me in the better specific direction.
Well, sounds easy right? Not so much... I went on my daily morning walk with Mowgli today, where I usually pray. I practiced this specific request prayer. It wasn’t easy. What I quickly realized is that I have to actually be way more proactive. I have to actually think of something that I want/need to help me in one direction of two that I might be deciding to go and then pray for that specific thing/action. Whoa... talk about confusing. So now I am standing there (well walking)... thinking.. “ok well I have option A. or B. So IF option A is best then maybe I should ask for this sign to show me option A, but if option B is best then maybe I should ask for this sign, but oh wait, no that won’t work - so what should I ask for to be my sign to get me to know that option A is my destiny”.. YIKES... did I make that ever too complicated. I may not have been as successful in my specific prayer request today, but I am definitely committed to learning how to pray better each and every day, and until then, I still made sure to pray in the way I am currently familiar and know how. I trust that God is still happy with my prayers, but excited that I am eager to continue to grow in my ability to pray, as well as many other facets of my spiritual life. And as always, it is about the journey, not the destination :)