“Prayer is aligning the desires of the heart with the plan of God. It’s the beginning of a season of the visible and tangible power of God. It’s the door to undeniable miracles. It’s purpose coming to life. It’s the will of God developing a heartbeat on the soil of the earth.”
This was a caption I used for a picture I posted on Instagram a week or so ago. I’d been sitting in my car thinking over this story in Matthew:
Jesus Curses a Fig Tree
18 Early in the morning, as Jesus was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. 19 Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, “May you never bear fruit again!” Immediately the tree withered.
20 When the disciples saw this, they were amazed. “How did the fig tree wither so quickly?” they asked.
21 Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. 22 If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.”
I wanted to understand on a spiritual level what was really meant by “Ask and you shall receive.” I knew it was more than just racking up all my wants and needs and presenting them to the Lord asking for some relief and hoping that I shall receive it, but not until I began to understand prayer did I begin to understand this relationship of asking and receiving.
In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis says, “So that when we talk of a man doing anything for God or giving anything to God, I will tell you what it is really like. It is like a small child going to its father and saying, ‘Daddy, give me sixpence to buy you a birthday present.’ Of course, the father does, and he is pleased with the child’s present.”
We can never give God more than He’s given us, but I believe my Father is in the business of providing His children with the gifts, tools and voice necessary for living out our own purpose and ultimately bringing glory to His name here. What a blessing to be in a relationship where your Father sits waiting by the line, always promising to pick up on the first ring. What a joy to be on a journey where this day-to-day communication leads to divine and holy revelation. Praise the Lord that He wants to give us more than just parking spots close to the door, am I right?
This time in conversation is the bridging of the gaps. It’s the reminder of unconditional love and holy discipline. It’s the opportunity for Him to speak back and breathe life into dead and empty places. Prayer is the messy, simple yet complicated, intimate and humbling connection to the One who already knows, but loves you enough to want to share in the conversation over and over and over again. He’s not about being a spectator, and I think when we’re brave enough to let Him demolish that role, we open ourselves up to being able to receive the good and hard things that He so longs to give.
In short, we start to want what He wants. We start to see how He sees. We start to ask not for things that would make our lives easier, but rather things that would make His name bigger. We start to fall so heavily in love with Him that we begin to want nothing more than to be the vessel we were created to be. And so we begin to ask for that.
In the midst of prayer, whether we’re bringing our dreams, hopes, suggestions, complaints, or problems, we’re able to sit in the atmosphere of intimacy and breathe as the need for clarity dissolves into a hunger for trust. Time spent abiding in the Lord causes our “Tell me where to go next!” to translate gracefully into a more beautifully submissive, “I would love to know where to turn next, but I remember you’ve been faithful in the past and I know you’ll be faithful again. Give me not clarity and the means for which I can find myself attempting to be self-sufficient and independent, rather Father, give me Yourself.”
words by Lauren McLemore and photo by Hailey Pierce