I needed some healing and we needed guidance and direction. Frankly, we were desperate. The prayer was simply "HELP!!!" at times. Though I would hope that prayer times would be less self-centered than this, I cannot help but think that God heard us.
I recently saw someone tweet, "we don't pray to change God's mind, we pray to have our minds changed." Now I've heard a variety of something like this before and I've said something like it in the past, but after a year of nightly prayer walks I'm not sure I fully agree with it anymore. Or maybe it's just too formulaic for me. I think prayer is much more communal and mysterious and messy than that, and I don't think it's so one sided. Jesus even said that we have not because we ask not. That statement alone can screw with your theology. But I just wonder if prayer might be a complex, relational mash-up that unifies are hearts, minds, and souls with the creator and with those we pray for and with. I wonder if prayer really doesn't just make a difference in our lives or in the lives of the people around us, but somehow, mysteriously, God is moved and impacted by His connection with us? I know this is a slippery slope and I'm probably going to Hell, but there's just so much we do not know. What I do know is that, practically speaking, prayer has not only sustained us, but it has brought us into the middle of all kinds of crazy God-stuff.
On one of these such prayer walks my wife, daughter, and I felt like God was calling us to Washington DC and, specifically, we felt God wanted us to be there by September 1st, 2015. Now that's pretty specific, so we decided to pray into that a bit. We knew we'd need more funding and we'd need free housing... Ugh! This was no easy ask, but we just kept praying about it. Well, a couple of months went by, it was late August and there wasn't a single lead in DC... nothing, not one! Zipo! Well of course, I started to freak out a bit and began to doubt everything.
We started out on a prayer walk one night there in late August and a name came to my mind that I hadn't thought of in years. He was a man who was friends with my father and lived in the DC area. This man's name wouldn't leave my mind, so I called my father and mentioned him. My dad said, "That's funny, his name has been on my mind all day as well." So my dad called him, told him about our situation with our new ministry and this man said that he had a rental property that, for some reason, he couldn't find a renter for, and that we could stay in this place for as long as we needed to. Say What!?
We moved to DC September 1st - which to us was a huge sign of God's leading. There have been story after story of God being there in our midst - crazy, wonderful, God stuff!
But ultimately, this nightly ritual has become our peace. This year has been fairly stress-free - which is a miracle in and of itself. Starting a new anything is never easy and leaving our church was difficult, but getting with God each evening and throughout my day has brought to us some of that fruit that we are all longing for: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, and self-control.
I've always prayed, a bit, but diving into the deep-end of a more communal life with God's spirit has opened up my life - it has opened my family's life. I've seen it change my daughter's life! Don't pray alone. Well, do that, but also make it part of how you interact with friends, family, your children and co-workers. As I'm finding from what I've been reading, all movements have begun with prayer and I'm longing for a movement.
Are there unanswered prayers? Yep. Is everything just smashing? Nope. But life is so good - it's adventurously expectant! The more I hang out with God the more I trust. The more I'm with him the more I feel free to risk - to just jump first and to fear later knowing that, either way, he's got me.
May you be overwhelmed and drawn into God's presence throughout your day and may your life be a ceaseless communion with HIM and with those around you.