Post written by Brittany Baker
On Sunday, JR talked about forgiveness from God and how failure to know how much we are forgiven impedes on how deeply we connect with God in prayer. He gave great practicals and handrails as to why we pray, how we pray and what we should do when we experience disappointment through prayer. Because JR did such an incredible job of talking about prayer, today I want to touch on my personal journey with prayer and a few things I’ve learned.
The root of any spiritual discipline is relationship. God doesn’t need your religious behavior. He desires your heart. Prayer is no different. It is a very mysterious thing, but a very powerful thing! Philippians 4:6 says “Do not worry, but pray about everything.” Learning to have this kind of dialogue and intimacy with Jesus is learned over a lifetime. No one has “praying about everything down”, we are all learning, but it just shows you how vital prayer is.
Prayer is literally one of my favorite things, because if we need it for everything, it is available to everyone. You don’t have to be a rocket surgeon (as JR would say. ☺) I’m not a natural at school, so this is good news for me. I’m street smarts, ya know?
Anyways, I digress. At its basic level, prayer is a conversation with God. We all know that in any healthy relationship communication is important. And there is good news: it’s a conversation with the least offended person on the planet! You don’t have to filter or tailor your prayers so that God will understand you. God doesn’t need to be pastored. Isn’t that amazing?!!
I was in my time with God asking Him for some impossible things, and I started self-editing. He clearly said, “I don’t need pastoring.” Another reason to pray you guys, God has a sense of humor and He will download things into your heart because you showed up! He is the one that examines your heart, meaning He understands and gets you.
So why do we pray? Because God desires to speak to you and He wants our hearts. He wants open communication and connection. At the core of everything God does is his heart to “take you back to the garden.”
Prayer is powerful! When we were in the discipleship school at Antioch, a man named Kevin Johnson was teaching and he said, “history belongs to the intercessor.” That floored me. I remember reading stories in the Bible where God listened to people’s pleas and changed his mind. Say what? God…changed his mind! I don’t have enough space to go into the depths of all that entails, but it’s worth pointing out. We can affect history, sign me up!
So, one aspect of prayer is a conversation with God and another part of prayer is the ability to affect history across the earth. Prayer is POWERFUL; it should be our first response. Did you know that the church is God’s plan A to change the world? And I believe prayer is the most powerful tool we have. It gets glossed over, maybe because prayer takes stillness, or maybe it just seems “too easy,” or maybe you have never been real with God and you are scared.
Here is your chance to bail you guys, because it’s about to get real. JR and I have had a three-year journey trying to have a family and we have lost two pregnancies in the midst of it. Our first loss happened October 4th, 2014, and I was so broken and had zero clue how to handle this grief with God. So I started “fake it until you make it praying”, and I was absolutely gutted.
Because I wasn’t honest in my prayers, I started to withdraw from God and things were fractured between us. Then I remember one day, He said, “You can be mad at me, but just be mad WITH me.” That changed my life. I started to learn that God wasn’t scared of my grief, my undoneness, or my rage and for about 9 months my prayers sounded more like a fight than anything else.
It wasn’t pretty; I offered God snot, tears and ashes for two years. In return, He has brought deeper truth of His character as the Author of Life, helped me battle insecurity, comparison, jealousy and beyond. Jesus has shown me what it means to be thankful again, and has shown me that He really is ENOUGH. That would have never happened on my own accord. I can guarantee you that. But because God gave me permission, I felt safe to have honest conversations. And HE changed me, because I showed up. I was a willing vessel, but Jesus was the one that was ABLE!
There is also an aspect of perseverance in prayer because God’s timing is not always our timing. And in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, it reminds us that there is a “season for everything” — pits will come and parades will come. This side of heaven that is a part of every person’s life, whether you believe in Jesus or not. You have to stick around; you have to be honest. And for the love, be BOLD; be willing to ask God for the impossible.
Matthew 19:26 says, “with God all things are possible.” Ask Jesus to restore years of damage in your marriage, ask Him to breathe hope in the Refugee Crisis, ask Him for the $400 you need to pay the bills, ask Him for babies, and you guys, ask Him to breathe revival in your heart and in Salt Lake City! The time is now; God wants to do big things in and through each of you. But He wants a partnership, not a puppet. He desires that deep relationship, that closeness with you.
I’ve attached a simple chart to use in your time with God or if you just need specific handrails, partly because I have no idea how to make a pretty chart on the computer. The fact that I’m typing this blog post is a straight up miracle. So, feel free to make it cooler or whatever you tech kids do these days!
JR and I love you. Our heart is so for you! We are so fortunate to pastor the best people in the best city!