Every year for the last five my New Year’s resolution has been the same. The goal is to pray more.
Prayer, being the mysterious discipline that it is, has been quite a struggle for me throughout the latter part of my Christian life.
When I first became a Christian, prayer was easy. That was more than 18 years ago, though. I was graduating high school with the world spread out in front of me. I was hopeful. I talked to God about everything all the time —with no fear or inclination that things might not work out just the way they were supposed to. It’s no surprise that at some point, somewhere along the way, I got discouraged. Blame it on my faulty theology I suppose. I stopped believing that my voice much mattered in the grand scheme of things. Children are to be seen and not heard, right?
Instead of praying, I buried myself in finding out just what God was saying; what he was like; what he wanted; who he was. In other words, correcting my poor theology, especially on what prayer was and was not. I read and studied the Bible far more than I prayed. I believe it was because I desperately needed to know what to pray for, or, what prayer even was. Communion as well as communication with God was realized almost solely through the study of him and his word. Aside from sending up a few half-hearted thank yous and the needs of others, fervent prayer had largely taken a backseat in my spiritual life.
I often think about why prayer is so difficult for me. I read several books on prayer. I used to think it was because I wasn’t any good at prayer. I studied and wrote on the Psalms extensively for over a year hoping it would help me understand. (Go figure…more study, still no increase in prayer…) I learned that it isn’t because I’m a below average pray-er as far as technique. More likely, being the analytically wired idealist that I am, my need for understanding overrides my will to simply obey. In short, flawed human logic overrides faith in the unfathomable. I am a sinner even in seeking God…and I am often unbalanced. I do what is easy for me, rather than doing what is best for me. I am lazy. I lack faith and discipline and I struggle with unbelief. Those are some of the real reasons I don’t pray nearly enough.
Nevertheless, even if we are faithless, he remains faithful. The Lord showed up in the labor room a couple weeks ago. Our newest addition, Sonny Faye, was born on December 18, 2015.
Like all babies do, she was crying loudly upon entrance to this world. As the nurses tidied her up, her father walked over to see her. Then, something happened that made time stand still. It was one of those moments that etches itself into your memory and you know you will not ever forget it. As he began to speak to her, she became immediately silent. Daddy’s calm, familiar voice broke through the barriers of an unfamiliar, cold, fearful place and she listened intently to that which she foreknew. Daddy’s voice called her attention and in an instant, a squirming, flailing baby girl was comforted. Without a doubt, she is her father’s daughter.
She is me.
In the fearful, the cold, the unfamiliar trenches of this world, I squirm and squeal. I thrash and flail not knowing or trusting my harsh surroundings. When I pray years upon end without seeing change and I have run out of words, out of faith, and out of pleas, I found a way to hear daddy. My father speaks through his word. Little wonder why an immature baby in the faith like me pines so intensely over his words. My father’s words comfort; they calm; they make an infantile daughter cease from flailing in fear.
Perhaps I do not speak to God as oft as I should. I do not. I hope to do better this year than last. What I do know is that when my father speaks to me, I hear him loud and clear. I am my father’s daughter.