Are there some things in your life that you just don’t pray about, because they seem trivial? I have recently noticed that I was not asking for God’s help with something in my life, because I figured, in the grand scheme of things, that there were more important things to pray about. On my run this morning, as I started asking God for his help in keeping me strong and free from injury, as I have recently started doing on every run for the past few weeks, I asked myself why had I not ever bothered asking for God’s help before with my running needs? And I know the answer was that I just felt it was so insignificant–with all the things going on in the world and with needs so much greater than mine…a part of me felt selfish for asking for His help with my running. And, honestly, there was also a part of me that was trying to do it all by myself. This was MY endeavor, I don’t need anyone’s help. It really hit me today, on my run, that both of these ways of thinking were just not right. As I said, for the past few weeks I have been asking for God’s help on my runs. I think it was because of a christian song I recently put on my playlist–it just prompted me to pray! And today, on my run and also in my devotional for today, I received confirmation that God wants us to bring everything to Him. Nothing is too trivial for our God–nothing is too big or too small for Him. To think otherwise is to doubt the enormity of His love for us. And to leave Him out of a part of our life is putting limits and constraints on all that He wants to bestow on us. I’m not sure why it has taken me so long to come to this realization, especially when I know how powerful prayer is. But I am grateful that I finally heard God whispering to me, in the early morning hours when it was just Him and me and the stars: Ask for My help in every little thing. There is nothing too big or too small that you and I cannot handle together. Lay it all at my feet. I am in every detail of your life. Share your whole self with me. I am your Helper and I am always with you. Come to me fully and completely and trust in My love for you.
Everyone should have an outlet, a passion, something they love to do just because they love doing it. For me, that is running. It was only 3 years ago that I started running, at the age of 37 and it took hold of me and set me free. It was a gift that God showered down on me at a time in my life when I needed something to give me confidence and joy again. I went from never having run, well, anything, to running and winning 5Ks and then running 10Ks and then right into half marathons. It was a release, an escape, and it even became spiritual for me, as I found myself using the time to talk to God.
In the years that followed, my running ability has steadily declined. My body took a toll that first year, when I went all out. Now, I only run a couple of 5Ks a year and no halfs. Now, I am just grateful if I can get out there and run 3 1/2 miles a few times a week. And I do because it is still a spiritual escape for me, a time when I can talk to God and praise Him, as I look around at nature and take in its beauty.
On a recent weekday run, my mind drifted, as it often does when I run, and I found myself thinking about how good I was doing with various aspects of my job and how strong I felt running. And immediately, I found myself asking God to help me stop exalting myself. I saw right away that I was feeling very in control of my life and it scared me. I have learned, throughout the years, that as soon as I start feeling that power, that control, that praise in my own talents and abilities–that is when everything tends to start falling apart. Because that is when I rely on my own strength, my own abilities, and I stop relying on God. That is not a good place to be. So, I immediately asked, as hard as it was, that God humble me. That I come down from my high point where all I can see is myself and be brought back down to a level where God is my focal point again. It’s not an easy prayer to say, because when I ask to be humbled, it means swallowing my pride–it means defeat in some aspect of my life–and it is a very hard thing to know when you have been defeated and to have to swallow your pride. I know this all too well, as I have watched my running ability ever so slowly be lessened and lessened. That is when you have to rely on God’s goodness and trust that His plan is far better than your own.
I said that prayer a couple of weeks ago and life went on. God answered that prayer just a few days ago. Again, a weekday run. Recently, I had been experiencing some pain in my hip/hamstring area and I was having to take it easy on my running. A regular occurrence these days. I’ve been running with my husband, who only started running with me about a year ago and not steadily until recently. He’s been running to lose weight. Naturally, he’s been a slower runner than I have, since I’d been running longer and was in better shape. Until now. On this run, my husband passed me up. And then, on the next run, my husband passed me up again. How could that be? I’ve run (and won) tons more 5ks, I’ve run half marathons. For 3 years running has been my life. He’s only been running steadily for about a year. How could he be passing me up? It was a blow to my pride. I prayed, again a very hard prayer to say when your pride is wounded, that God help me to be happy for him, to help me let go of the anger and jealousy and pride that I was feeling.
When I got to work that morning I was still feeling so wounded. I put my stuff in my office and then I stood by my desk and suddenly, the poster that I hung up just the day before caught my eye. It was one of those motivational posters, with lots of words on it. But, in the midst of all those words, I only saw one. Humble. The word jumped out and it was all that I could see. And I knew, in that instant, that God was showing me that one word. Suddenly, I remembered that prayer that I said a few weeks ago and God was telling me that He was humbling me. He was humbling me to make me a better person. He was humbling me so that I would once again rely on Him. What a gift He had given me.
Because it’s not about being a number 1 runner. It’s not about being number 1 at your job. It’s about what is number 1 in your life. What is your focal point? What is the one thing you could never live without? Once again, God humbled me so that all of those other things in life that we start to place such a high value on could be put back in their proper place. And I could once again see clearly what is most important. I could once again be made strong in my weaknesses. Knowing that God’s strength is stronger, God’s plan is better, God’s love is bigger.
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.–2 Corinthians 12:9
Have you ever had a new thought or an answer to a problem pop up during prayer? This happened to me a few weeks ago. I was at a meeting and the morning was not going well. My coworkers knew this and right before we began our opening prayer, a few of them said they were going to pray for me. Not but a minute into that prayer, the answer to a problem popped into my head. Sure enough, once I tried what I thought of, the problem was solved. It was truly amazing and I know without a doubt that God heard my coworkers prayers and He supplied me with the answer.
On another occasion, a few months ago, I was saying my morning prayers and I suddenly felt a need to pray for one of my coworkers. This was a bit difficult for me because I find it very hard to get along with this individual. There are very, very few people that I don’t get along with, but this was one of them. I listened to that voice in my head however and, while it was a difficult thing to do, I did pray for him. This went on for about a week, each day getting alittle easier. I wasn’t sure really what to pray for, so I just prayed that God would bless him and give him much happiness and good health. It had been about a week of praying for him when he told me that his wife had just had a miscarriage. In that instant, I knew why God had urged me to pray for him and I could honestly tell him that he was in my prayers. That actually led me to not only pray more for him, but also to include his family in my prayers as well. After that happened, I urged friends and family to always listen to that voice in your head. That prompting, I knew, was the Holy Spirit.
I find that those clear cut answers or promptings in prayer are not frequent. It seems to me that God speaks to me in more discreet ways, in more quiet ways that sometimes seem forever to make themselves known. But there are times when God’s voice is very direct, very clear. Through all of the ways God speaks, I have learned that prayer is incredibly powerful. I think sometimes He shows me the direct effect of prayer to strengthen my belief in its power. There are some prayers I have been saying for some people for a very, very long time and yet, nothing changes. I know God hears those prayers, but I wonder why they don’t seem to make a difference for those people I have been praying for. Maybe, when God shows me answers to prayers like the two instances I wrote about, He is also showing me that all of my prayers make a difference, even the ones that seem to go unnoticed. He is showing me that our prayers are always heard, and that when the time is right, and in His perfect way, our prayers are answered.