A backdrop of pale blue cinder block walls was where the genesis of my intentional prayer life began. In a dank basement of a church, circled up with a dozen other people going through a book that encouraged prayer partners, a sudden yearning for more overcame me.
One voice stood out over the few weeks we had been meeting. It was a voice of prayer that I’d never experienced before. Her words were like magnets drawing me closer to the base of God’s throne. Every time. They were smooth, heartfelt and real. There was no trace of rote pomp, or the perfect elocution of a pastor, they were an attractive, compelling conversation.
I wanted that. I wanted that intimacy and confidence with God, so I introduced myself and boldly asked if she would be my prayer partner. She said she already had a prayer partner, but would think about it. A couple other women approached her as well, so she agreed to lead our little prayer group.
At our first meeting she handed us each a 3×5, spiral notepad to record our prayers. On the first page she had written Hebrews 10:25 that said, and let’s not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encourage one another… We settled in and she began praying, not long, but genuinely calling upon the Lord to be in our midst. Another voice chimed in after a natural pause, and after a bit the third woman contributed.
I knew I was next, but I was nervous because I had never prayed aloud. When the pause came to signal my turn, I prayed, “Thank you Jesus. Amen.” It was more of a sputter than anything else, but I will never forget my first words spoken out loud to God. When I think of them today, there is just something so precious about them. They were embryonic, and all that I was capable of at that time, but they were a genuine attempt to connect with God.
I remember the leader gently patted my leg, and in a smiling voice she said, “We’re going to be here a bit longer.” After a chuckle, a warm embrace from her eyes, and smiles from the other women, she continued praying with sweet reverence and joy.
From that meeting an official prayer group formed. More women joined us, and we met weekly for over 11 years. We’d gather without chatting first, instead we pulled chairs around her kitchen table and went straight to Jesus. Everyone learned what was going on in each other’s lives by what we told Him in our prayers. I still think it beautiful that Jesus got first dibs.
As life would have it, we prayed through trials, triumphs and trivial matters. If it mattered to us, it mattered to God. We’d spend a minimum of an hour laying everything out before the Lord, giving Him glory and trusting Him with our utterances and our lives. It was one of the most spiritually formative times of my life.
In this rich, safe space I learned how to draw near to God with both words and emotions. I grew from other’s prayer lives as well, as they shared vulnerably and generously. My four-word prayer eventually expanded into its own distinct conversation. My voice developed as I realized that I was praying to only one – not an audience – but The One, Jesus.
Prayer has evolved for me over the years. I’ve seen the power of it, the comfort of it, and the faith in it. I have also disrespected it, and not trusted it. Additionally, because prayer is a relationship, I can confess that I’ve experienced most of its relational hurdles and heights. I haven’t always done it right, or good, but I have pursued it, because I have pursued Jesus. The little I know is that prayer ushers me into God’s presence, (whether I feel it or not) and quite frankly that’s the only place I want to be these days.
There is access to God in prayer. Praying in Jesus’ name opens a direct door to our Heavenly Father. Without His blood shed on the cross we wouldn’t have the ability, or the right to connect with God. The name of Jesus is the only ingredient necessary for any prayer, even my short-sputtered prayer carried weight because it included His name.
There is learning involved with prayer. My prayer life evolved mostly through practice, but I did read a couple books that influenced it early on:
- With Christ in the School of Prayer, by Andrew Murray
- The Practice of the Presence of God, by Brother Lawrence
The first book required mind muscle – I’d have to read paragraphs a couple times to comprehend it, but it definitely brought rich insights into my understanding of prayer. The second book is a short 70-page collection of notes and conversations by a monk in the 1600’s that entirely shifted how I pray.
There is power in prayer. That power comes when we pray in God’s will, when two or three gather in Christ’s name, as well as when Scripture is prayed aloud. I believe it was Beth Moore who said that when we read Scripture aloud it sounds like us, but to Satan it sounds like God. Praying God’s will, praying with others, and praying Scripture aloud amplifies our prayers in ways we can’t understand.
There is relationship in prayer. What type of relationship do you want with God? Just like with people, if you talk to God as much as you do your distant Aunt Betty, then you’ll probably have the same caliber of relationship. However, if you pray to God as much as you talk to the person in your life who knows you best and loves you the most, you’ll have a more honest and intimate relationship with Him too.
There is responsibility in prayer. I learned that not every prayer is heard by God in the same way. Our sin can create a barrier, something I liken to static interference. Prayer that is primed with confession is far more powerful. James 5:16 says, the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. We are responsible to clear the way for our prayers and to align ourselves with God and His will. In this way our prayers end up being what He desires, more than what we desire.
If that sounds scary to you…it is! But, trust me, I’ve learned that I want God’s will over my own, and would prefer to pray His will instead of wasting time with mine. (Side note: don’t let this inhibit the desires of your heart. Ask for them and leave the outcome to God.)
There is community in prayer. It’s true that we can each have a private spiritual life; Jesus will surely meet us there. But, that type of spiritual life is self-orbiting. When your relationship with Him is all about you and your desires, it doesn’t honor Him as much. That’s why corporate prayer, in large groups such as a church service, is actually an offering to God. It’s the Body of Christ exulting Him together. Praying in numbers is a fragrant offering that God enjoys. So, when it’s cold and rainy and you’d rather stay in your PJ’s on a Sunday morning, consider what type of gift your prayers will be when you stand shoulder to shoulder with other believers in worship and wonder of a God who knows us and cares for us individually. His body is a community of believers and our prayers together are meaningful to Him, whether conveyed aloud or in our hearts.
There is freedom in prayer. Over the last few years I’ve been involved in a grass roots movement of prayer called Freedom Prayer. It’s described as inner healing prayer and it’s nothing like I’ve ever seen before. Trained teams of three volunteers sit with anyone who wants to draw near to God and hear from Him. It’s a time where wounds are healed, lies are broken, people are forgiven, and freedom is gotten.
Since it’s an opportunity for Jesus to speak into your life, the team merely facilitates the encounter, rather than praying over you themselves. I say it’s the closest I’ve been to touching heaven, and a privilege to stand in the gap for others while Jesus pours His love and truth all over them. I recommend it to anyone who wants to encounter Jesus. If that’s you – just let me know!
A GOD WHO IS NEAR
Deuteronomy 4:7 says, What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to him?Prayer is a gift, it’s a tool, it’s a comfort, it’s a cry, and so much more! Like anything else good in life, it requires effort and intention on our part, but it’s well worth it.
It’s been years since I sat in that blue church basement and decided that I wanted more. In the years since, Jesus has been faithful. I have been able to learn about prayer, experience its power, strengthen my relationship with Christ through it, accept the responsibility that comes with it, exercise it in private as well as in public, and receive freedom from it. Who wouldn’t want all that prayer offers?!
Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned prayer warrior I invite you to give Jesus praise or pour out your heart, right now. He hears and listens. He is in it with you and He is for you (whether you feel it or not). Release the outcomes and cherish His presence, because ultimately that is the sweetest reward of prayer.
I’m here to encourage you to just start. Even if all you can manage is a “Thank you Jesus. Amen.” it will more than suffice. In fact, I can tell you after all the prayers I have prayed, that one has been my best. There are no sweeter words than Thank you, Jesus!
Do you want more too? A couple coaching sessions would give you the space to explore what that would look like it! As a Christian Life Coach, I can help you move from where you are to where God wants you to be. If you’d like to explore this further, then let’s chat. I’d love to be your champion in what God is calling you to do!
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4 thoughts on “Thank You Jesus. Amen.”
I love hearing your story! Thanks for sharing, it is really encouraging.
So glad it encouraged you! Thank you Jesus, amen!!!!
Thank you Karyn! I love what God has taught you over the years. You surely are using His gifts & talents to point us closer to Christ through prayer.
Miss you sister in Christ!
Thank you Lilly! Don’t know where I’d be without prayer and all the people who helped me with it. Thanks for letting me show Him off and for receiving what He’s done in my life so graciously. Thanking Jesus for you, right now friend. Miss you too!