While I believe prayer is one of the most fundamental, most crucial aspects of leaning into God and maintaining a relationship with him, it continues to be a learned practice for me. One night, I was leading a small group, an IF:Table gathering. I was hosting and leading the group, and I found myself confessing, “Sometimes, I feel like prayer is boring”.
I think I spoke it to the ground. It’s not exactly the most favorable comment to make as a Bible study leader, yet somehow I knew God was prompting me to voice it. I held my breath.
A friend of a friend who only came to group that one night so confidently spoke to me this: God is never boring.
The night’s discussion turned into one of my favorite conversations from the whole summer. My notes filled with verses, and as I took my journal back into my quiet times, I began praying the Psalms more than I ever had before. They were so grounding, reminding me of who I was talking to and how powerful he is. I prayed the verses suggested to me, and I sometimes just flipped open my Bible and prayed whatever Psalm I landed on. I started making a list of favorites, a quick note in my journal of the Psalm and what it was about. As I did this, my perception of God started to change. I started to see more of Him for who he is, and my prayers shifted from being about myself and my desires to being about God and his glory.
I remember another morning trying to read my Bible, and I couldn’t focus to save my life. I was trying, but then it was as if God said, “stop reading about me and just spend time with me”. I hardly even knew what that meant, so I just started by praying, admitting that I couldn’t focus and pouring out whatever was on my heart. I heard Jeff Bethke say once that facts and truth come alive in real relationship, and that’s exactly what I’ve seen in my walk. When I spend time with God, my relationship with Him grows. In turn, the scriptures come alive and become so much more exciting and relevant.
I especially love the verses within Psalm 119:17-37, prayers for before I begin reading my Bible. “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law… my soul is consumed with longing for your laws… I run in the path of your commands…” Great prayers, but really, what kind of person would say any of this, would be consumed with longing for law or would run in the path of commands? Old me would have rolled my eyes here, but it turns out, time with God actually does change our hearts. It seems like the only kind of person whose soul would be consumed with longing for the law of God would be someone who is consumed with God himself.
Our perceptions don’t define reality. Whether prayer times seem stale or the words of the Bible seem dry, God is not boring. His Word is not powerless. When we find ourselves in those places, I think the most important thing we can do is simply to not stay there.
For me, it started with confession. I admitted my struggle to my small group, and I also had to admit it to God. Father, help me. I’m struggling to focus on my prayers, and struggling to believe your word matters. I don’t want to stay here. Would you open my eyes?
And then, I listened. I listened to what God had to say as I read through the scriptures he himself breathed into existence, scriptures he had used my small group to direct me to. And there, he began to open my eyes.
Stepping In: What do these passages teach you about God? Spend some time in prayer, telling God anything that’s on your heart. Who is someone (some people) you could discuss with?
Journeying Further: What about these passages helps make you more in awe of God? If you’re in a place of awe and worship, how can you help encourage others to grow towards that? Who, specifically, might benefit from some of your story?
If you’re in a place of struggle, who is a trusted person/group that you could open up to?