Michael and I try to pray together weekly. My favorite time with him is when we sit down and come to God together with our fears, hopes, dreams, burdens, and praises.
We’re not perfect at praying weekly, by any means. It’s ridiculously hard sometimes to convince ourselves we’re not “too busy” to talk to God together. (Because obviously, watching Full House reruns and doing some work to get ahead on a Sunday night is clearly the better option…not.)
But truly, by God’s grace, mercy, and love, praying together is something that Michael and I have been intentional about since we got engaged two years ago. And God meets us where we are every time. I am thankful for God’s patience with our short attention spans – even when we’ve skipped a few weeks, or even if I still feel “too busy” as we sit down to pray, God hears us. And God loves us. And undeservingly, God blesses us. Every time.
Something I read recently about prayer struck me in its simplicity:
“The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know.” 1 Timothy 2:1, MSG version.
It’s so simple.
I think I’ve made talking to God much more rigid and complicated than it needs to be. The writer here (Paul) didn’t tell me I can only pray after I’ve sat down for a quiet time, or after I’ve read a decent amount of the Bible for the day. (Don’t get me wrong – “quiet times” and are good, and the Bible is more necessary for life than I can express.) But I don’t think God is a God of checklists. I think our God is a God who knows what His children need, and He knows that we desperately need to be in communication with Him.
I’ve learned, as God’s children, we are encouraged to pray to our perfectly loving Father (1 John 4:8) about everything without hesitation. Because Jesus came, those who trust in Him can “approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Heb 4:16). God calls me good enough to come to Him with confidence. Because of Jesus.
Coming from a perfectionist (not a good thing) who catches myself trying to “be good enough” for God before I can come to Him in prayer, I keep these verses handy to remind myself of the God with whom we speak:
“For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is [God’s] love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our [sins] from us.”
Meaning, God loves me as high as the clouds sit in the sky, and He has already forgiven me for the mistake I made 5 minutes ago when I snapped at Michael for chewing skittles too loudly. This is the God I may approach with confidence in prayer.
Something else Paul says in the Timothy scripture line gets me: “Pray…for everyone you know.”
I can think of some exceptions that my stubborn self would like to skip over while praying. (These “exceptions” popped into my head the minute I read the line about praying for everyone. Maybe it’s because my “exceptions” really need a lot of prayer. Or maybe it’s because I need a lot of prayer. Probably both.)
Truly though, it’s a joy to pray for people who love me well.
Just as sweet, if not sweeter: It’s healing to pray for people who don’t love me well. Healing, because I can’t pray for hurtful people by myself – I need to team up with God to do it. I need His perfect love to help me. I need His love that doesn’t hold grudges. I need His love that forgives me and forgives other people. Pairing up with that kind of love – it’s healing.
The best thing I’ve learned to do this year is to pray. To pray “first, for everyone I know, and every way I know how. ” (1 Timothy 2:1). And by God’s grace and love, I can.
Be encouraged that the God of love, compassion, mercy, and grace, loves you dearly. I bet He would like to tell you that, too, every way you know how to listen.
Blessings to you,