By Sally Lombardo
As a teacher and minister, friends are often asking me if I think prayer ‘works.’ I am often perplexed as to how to answer this question until I ask them the question: “What is your goal in prayer?” If we approach prayer as we do our earthly agendas, plans, or hopes then we can often feel disappointed. Things don’t turn out as we have hoped, even after we pray. Often, we are left wondering, “Why, God? Why hasn’t anything changed?” Over my lifetime, I believe God has taught me that prayer is not about answers but about trust, and trust is not built in a one-time encounter but a life of looking upward.
This morning as the sun was rising, I read Psalm 34. It reminded me of the relationship we build with God when we are sad, desperate, struggling or just happy to see the sun come out again. 34:5 reads:
“Those who look to God are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.”
Sometimes when we look up to God, our faces turn to a kind of radiant beholding of Him. Many days, prayer ‘works’ to just cover our shame with grace and hopefulness about life to come.
I wrote Honest Prayer to address Job, Ruth, and Hannah’s stories, but as I explored their faith, I began to see there was no formula for prayer or a mystical way to achieve intimacy with God; it happens, rather, when we are most honest. When tears flow, when we open ourselves to God in our real thoughts and needs, God comes to us, making our faces radiant just because they are reflecting him.
In this season, we talk a lot about ‘waiting’ expectantly. Maybe searching for God in prayer means waiting to experience the radiance of his presence. I’m discovering that developing a trusting relationship in prayer takes patience and persistence, and I’m discovering that sometimes the waiting is the answer itself.
Join us on Ignite (www.biblestudymedia.com) in January, 2023 to study this book.
Teacher/Leader: Sally Lombardo
Our honest prayer before God is evidence that we understand the ways He loves, cherishes, sees, and hears us. Through prayer, we can acknowledge with Hagar, “You are the living One who sees me” (Genesis 16:14). When we pray, we are affirming the same. Why do we often hide from this privilege? Why do we avoid God, the One who sees us as we are and stands ready to provide and answer us in his holy, timely way? In this 8-week study on the prayers of Job, Ruth, Hannah, and David, grow your prayer life by facing your honest need and bringing your whole self before God. Acknowledging God as the One who guides your path can change your heart. It can take you past fear and into faith, strength, and hope. Learn more about Honest Prayer.
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