If I had a quarter every time I cried out, “God, be with me,” I’d be a rich girl! So many mornings I chant theses little phrases with a groggy, not so coffee or Spirit-filled tone.
God, be with me as I start this day.
Lord, be with me as work on this project.
Jesus, be with me as I make this long drive.
God, be with me as I try to shepherd my child.
Lord, be with me as I try to love my husband better.
And after I ask for Him to be with me, I ask Him to be with others.
God, be with my daughter, my husband, my family, people that drive me bonkers, my farm, my great aunt Sally’s long lost sister’s husband that’s now in rehab. The possibilities are endless. And I’m ashamed at how I must have bored God all these years.
Now don’t get me wrong, those are not the major players in my prayer life. I’m a hands-on prayer warrior. I like to lay my hands on someone and connect and boldly pray the impossible. And I have seen God move in incredible ways.
But when I’m tired or disconnected, it’s just easier to spew a list of stuff that needs attention. And after the “thank you’s” and the “be with’s,” I would sometimes just feel a little stuck in the middle. And it hit me that so often I try to take from my Emmanuel. I mean, His name is God with us. So it’s the way to go, right?
But If I’m trying to be more Jesus-like, why don’t I stop every. single. day. and ask, “Hey God, how can I be with YOU today? How can I walk WITH you today?” I’m human … I want to take, take, take. And fill myself up. And I want to seek His comfort. And feel the jealousy He has for my heart. But I don’t often … (read: I never) … Stop and offer to just be there for Him.
I don’t stop and get jealous for His heart. I don’t often run to Him as he is chasing after me. And quite honestly, if I see my husband or friend struggling, I naturally would ask how I could help. But because God’s work is, in so many ways, unseen and all the time it is more than we can fathom, I never stop to ask Him.
And when I stopped and asked that one simple question, my prayer life began to change.
Slowly … but it changed. “How can I be there for You, God?” It didn’t take much more than a willing heart and an open mind. And He began to open my eyes to some of the bigger pictures. I began noticing parts of the puzzle that were hidden before. Not all of them mind you, but my “get er done” attitude started to soften with the things unseen. And we, God and I, began to talk more intimately.
More like friends than like the dumb-dumb earthling praying to the scary dad in the sky. And when I was blank. And wanted to fill in those blanks with “be with’s” and “thank you’s” just so I’d have something to say, I instead let the Holy Spirit take over. And He gladly filled in the gaps with words I could never offer up to my Father.
So I became finished with those boring prayers full of rhetoric and customary lines and phrases. I ventured out into a more bold form of prayer. I spoke to God as a friend, and healer, and Father, and (Baptist girls, put on your ears muffs) lover.
And He began to show me an intimacy in prayer I had never known.
Real intimacy instead of “God, give me this and that.” But it took being completely over the laundry list of requests and moving to a more conversational prayer life.
And it all started with just asking, “God, what can I do for You today? Show me your ways … like for real. Show me a love for people deeper than I’ve ever known. Help me turn from my sin and have childlike faith and imagination as I walk through your Kingdom. Show me your desires and your vulnerability so that I make them my own. Be my Friend as well as my Lord.”
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My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.” Psalms 63:5-7