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Hands in the air, tears streaming down your face.
Feeling as if grace and love are pouring out of and into your heart at the same time.
That’s what prayer is supposed to be like, right?
A lot of times, that’s how I expect prayer to feel.
Dynamic. Incredible. Revelatory.
But then, I pray and it feels more like I’m talking to the air.
So sometimes, I don’t pray.
Sometimes, it’s easier to skip it. To say I’ll do it later. To forget about it.
When I do that; when I quit praying, the enemy wins.
We have an enemy and he is real:
Some Christian denominations talk openly and freely about “the enemy” [i.e. Satan or one of his demons.]
They acknowledge that the enemy is alive and well in our current world and he tries to mess with us often.
Up until a year ago, I never gave much thought to Satan being alive and well in our world today.
I certainly believed Satan and hell existed, but I never gave much thought to him actually being a part of my life today.
My Christian therapist who I see for my anxiety issues was the first one to bring up the enemy to me.
Matt’s dad brought him up to me next, followed by a conversation with a local Catholic friend who has had very real, very scary personal encounters with evil.
At first, it freaked me out to think that Satan is alive and well and actively trying to mess with me daily.
It’s the truth though.
As I read through the Bible this past year, I realized that the truth about Satan is written literally hundreds of times throughout both testaments.
Why would we think he was alive and well back then and not now?
Once I started realizing that the enemy is indeed alive and well today, so many things made sense. Why do we seem to have the most trouble in the places of our lives that are our weak spots?
For me, why do I seem to have constant encounters with the triggers of my anxiety?
It’s not by chance.
I think the devil targets us where we are weakest. Where he knows he can mess with us the easiest.
A lot of the evil and struggle in our lives are not by chance; they are opportunities and sometimes victories for the enemy.
The Book: FerVent:
My mom and I went to see the movie “The War Room” last month.
It’s a Christian movie about prayer, but it played at major theaters all over the country.
After seeing and loving the movie, I had the [God-designed] opportunity to receive a copy of the book FerVent, written by the actress from the movie, Priscilla Shirer, to read and review on my blog.
The book is a Women’s Battle Plan for Serious, Specific and Strategic Prayer.
I didn’t know what to expect from the book at all, and I’m currently only 4 chapters in.
But WOAH – this book had me highlighting and jotting down notes like a madwoman in just the introduction and first chapter.
As someone who has always felt an internal struggle to pray consistently and feel connected while praying, the beginning of the book was a huge wakeup call to me.
I’m still reading and learning, but I had a few major revelations about prayer and the enemy just while reading the first few chapters:
The enemy is alive and well, and on the lookout for ways to get between us and God. Interrupting our prayer life is one way he does this.
Having further confirmation that the enemy is alive and well and trying to distance us from God was a reminder of the truth I have learned this past year, but often forget as I’m going about my day.
But the truth remains, Satan doesn’t want us to be close to God.
So he will try anything he can to drive a wedge between us and God. What better way than to interrupt our daily communication with God, in any way he can.
One way he does this in my life is to make me feel like nothing is really happening while I pray and that I can always do it later, no big deal.
Not true – that’s a win for Satan.
Prayer isn’t always emotional.
This is a reassuring truth for me.
I know some people feel like they’re having a sit-down, face to face conversation with God every time they pray.
They often cry while praying.
This is great for them, and I’m jealous they get to experience vivid, emotional prayer like that so often.
But the truth of it is that sometimes [or most of the time even], prayer isn’t emotional.
It’s not a goose-bump inducing, tearful experience that you want to tell everyone about.
And that’s ok.
It doesn’t mean you’re a less qualified or bad Christian because your prayers aren’t emotional.
It doesn’t mean you’re less loved by God because your prayers feel like you’re talking to the air.
It also doesn’t mean that God hears you any less.
Sometimes, prayer feels methodical and unemotional and that’s ok.
Prayer requires practice.
A lot of times, the reason people struggle with prayer is because they’re new at it.
Things feel weird at first when you are learning something new.
It takes awhile to find your groove.
If you’re just starting, don’t expect to be an expert at prayer right away.
And really, there is no expert at prayer. There’s always room to grow and things to learn.
The important thing is that you continue to do it; that you continue to communicate with God.
And most people find that the more they do it, the more it begins to feel like a conversation with God rather than talking to the air.
I’ve been praying for years though, and I still often feel like the air is my companion.
But what I feel and what I KNOW to be true are two different things.
I KNOW God is there and He is listening.
So while I often feel like nothing is happening, I keep practicing prayer because I know what is really going on.
Our prayer lives ebb and flow and that’s ok.
This ties into lesson #2.
Sometimes, prayer can be an emotional experience.
Perhaps you have gone through times in your life where prayer [and often your faith in general] feel like you’re on fire.
I felt this way while I was going through my health crisis last winter.
I had never been closer to God in my life than I was then, and I felt like my prayers had an extra bit of power and connectedness.
And then, as time passed and I started to feel better, that magic started to fade a little bit.
Life got busier and slowly, I fell back into feeling like my faith and prayer life were not where I wanted them to be.
My therapist spoke great truth to me one day when she told me that there is an ebb and flow to our faith and our prayer life, and that’s ok.
Just like in relationships, you might feel particularly connected to your spouse during a certain phase of your life, and then after a while, you might go through a tougher phase where you don’t feel quite as in sync.
Why would we expect our relationship with God, and our prayer life to be any different?
Of course things are going to ebb and flow. That’s the way of life, after all.
Realizing this and accepting it frees us up from the guilt that can often follow it.
I’m not saying to be content with things if you’re in a low point.
If your marriage was in a low point and you just let it be, it would be hard to ever get out of that low point.
But if you continue to work on things, the low point will eventually pass and better times will come.
This is true in faith and prayer as well.
Even if you don’t feel like it, pray anyway.
This is one of the main lessons woven through the book FerVent. [I plan to do an extensive book review once I finish the book.]
The book is particularly about having a strategic prayer plan and following it to combat the enemy and his influence in our lives.
That’s the whole point of the movie too.
To not be strictly reactive in prayer, but to be PROACTIVE. To have a strategy and a plan for prayer.
To me, this not only means making a plan, but also not letting my feelings dictate whether I pray or not.
A lot of the time, I don’t feel much like praying.
I don’t feel inspired or emotional.
I might not feel particularly connected or close to God at the moment.
But if I don’t keep praying, Satan wins.
The distance between me and God will only get bigger.
The only way to get closer to God and to defeat the enemy is to keep praying.
Even if you don’t feel like it, do it anyway.
And be purposeful about it.
That’s what the book FerVent helps us do; be purposeful and intentional about our prayer life.
The enemy is alive and well in our world and in our lives today.
And he’s busy working to keep us from God. He’s busy trying to mess with us and defeat us in a million small, daily ways.
One of these ways is to interrupt our prayer life.
He doesn’t want us talking to God.
So when we stop praying, for whatever reason, Satan wins.
By realizing that prayer doesn’t always have to be emotional, and that it’s ok for our prayer life to ebb and flow, we release the guilt we may feel and recommit ourselves to praying, no matter what.
Even if you don’t feel like it, do it anyway.
When you pray, YOU win. God wins.