Pray

When I first started working at Calvary Nexus, our lead pastor ask anyone who was in the office on Friday afternoon if they’d like to meet in his office around 2 pm to pray. We had a pretty consistent schedule of people who worked on Fridays and no one said no. We’d cram into his office, two of his sitting on the couch and to more on his extra-nice reception chairs. Sometimes we’d have to bring in an extra rolling chair. It was a lot of people in one office and I loved it.

After working for four years at my previous job, which at times had the feeling of being so cut-throat, I was elated to spend twenty or so minutes in prayer with my coworkers each day. My final two years at my previous job, I had been walking with Jesus but never would have imagined that I would gather to pray with my coworkers. I still didn’t love praying out loud, although I had definitely gotten more comfortable with it after attending church for a few years and being a student in our church’s School of Ministry program.

Eventually, those Fridays turned into a prayer meeting at 10:30 am on Friday mornings. We have a team of ladies who come assemble our programs on Fridays and we would gather as soon as they were done. Those ladies stuck around most of the time but not a lot of others came so we moved the gathering to 8 am.

8 am. On a Friday morning. For an hour. I wanted to cry.

My normal work days didn’t begin until 9 am and this was a perfect fit for me. I would get up around 8:30, wash my face, brush my teeth, change into regular clothes, and be at work by 9. But having to get up at 7:30 am proved hard. I began setting my alarm earlier and earlier in order to get to the office on time.

At first I dreaded those hours. It seemed so impossibly hard to spend an hour in prayer. I could binge watch Netflix for an hour or read without interruption for an hour. I could talk about books or Celine Dion for an hour. I could do anything for an hour but I was sure I couldn’t pray for an hour.

I will never forget the first week of our hour-long prayer gathering. It was when it was still at 10:30 and I purposely left my phone in my office, where I wouldn’t be tempted to look at the time relentlessly. I prayed. I listened to others pray. I constantly had to refocus my mind on God. And then the pastor said, “Amen,” and I was shocked silly.

I could barely believe an hour had passed. It seemed like no time at all.

I have spent many work hours praying over the last few years. We gather on Fridays and right now on Wednesdays for an hour and on Sunday mornings for half an hour to pray. I come to these gatherings with varying degrees of enthusiasm.

Some mornings I pop out of bed, super refreshed and ready to go, ready to start my day with some prayer and stillness with my church family. Some Wednesdays, I am hungry to seek God’s face in the middle of an always-busy week.

But not every week. Sometimes I am a crank. I like sleep. And I’m not always very good at putting down my book or turning off Netflix at 11 pm. So when my alarm goes off at 7:15 on Friday mornings, or 6:30 on Sundays, I feel tired. My eyes are stuck together and I don’t want to get out of bed. On Wednesdays, when I’ve been at work for a just a few hours, it’s hard to tear myself away from a big project or from my emails to drive to a church across town.

But every.single.time the pastor leading the group issues that final “Amen” and we all open our eyes and blink at the other people in the room, I know one thing: I will never regret that hour, or half an hour, of prayer. I still might be tired. I still might have a to-do list eight miles long. But my heart feels centered. My feet feel a little more stable on the ground.

But my attitude is not the same, no matter how much sleep I didn’t get or how many things I have to accomplish in the day.

God doesn’t need my prayers. He can and will do whatever He wants whether I pray or not. But every time I pray, my heart is changed. It’s clear to me that I am the one who needs to pray. It’s not about how God answers my prayers — and He always does, whether it’s with a yes, a no, or a not yet. It’s about how He changes my heart through that time together.

Even in my own prayer time away from the office, when I’m lying in bed after a long, hard day, a day with lots of tears, and I’m praying in that hushed angry voice I get when I’m trying not to cry because I don’t like crying, God changes me. Even when I’m driving in rush hour traffic and begging God because I don’t understand so many situations seem to not make any sense on this side of Heaven, God changes me. Even when the tears are running down my face as I celebrate and I am uttering prayers of rejoicing and thankfulness, God changes me. Even when my body is shaking because I am so upset and I can’t even pray because the words won’t seem to come, God changes me.

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Those changes that take place in my heart during these times of prayer are profound. They build up on top of each other, one after another, grace upon grace. They turn me into a different person. They soften my hard heart. That soothe my big emotions.

They remind me of the might and mercy of a magnificent God.

Prayer isn’t just for Friday mornings at 8 and Sundays at 8:15 and Wednesdays at noon. It’s for every moment of our lives. Prayer is what gets me through and connects me to God in the most intimate of ways.

I am so thankful to be with Him in every season and every emotion. It fills my soul.

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This post is part of a series leading up to my book launch! Check back here on Tuesday for the next installment. And if you haven’t preordered my book Four Letter Words, you definitely want to do it no! Fill out this link and I’ll send you an invoice.

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