Friday, September 19, 2014

Prayer

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                Last night at our women’s study group we talked about how God knows our name. This was a part of our study that touched many of our hearts. Most of us go through our day without giving much thought to our names or the names of others. One of the things that really spoke to us was that God, knowing our names means that He has intimate knowledge about us. As I prepared this part of the study, I was reminded of Psalm 139.
                “For you formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works and that my soul knows
very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them. How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; when I awake, I am still with You.” Psalm 139:13-18
God knows our names. He knew our names even before the foundations of the world. As Jesus hung upon that cross, dying for your sins, He knew your name. He knew He was dying for you. He saw us and formed each one of us in our mother’s womb. There is nothing hidden that He does not see. He knows what is in our hearts because He created our hearts. All of this made me think about prayer as well. I know, it seems kind of odd when you think about it, how I got from God knowing my name to spending time before Him in prayer. (I am weird- what can I say!)
                But think about it for a minute. God knows every fiber of your being. He knows the depths of your soul, your thoughts, your desires, your dreams. He knows them so well because He knows you so well. Isaiah 45:3 tells us that He will give us the “treasures of darkness and hidden riches of secret places, that (we) may know that I the Lord, who call (us) by (our) name, am the God of Israel.” The intimacy that is found in the thought of God knowing our names brings me to a place of awe and wonder. Our God, the God who created the heavens, the earth, the creatures, the seas, the wind, the stars, the moon; knows our name.
                When I come before the Lord in prayer, He already knows who I am. I don’t have to text Him ahead of time and let Him know I am coming. He already is aware that I am before Him, and He is looking at me and saying my name. The name I was given at birth is not a coincidence. Because in Isaiah 45:4 God tells us that He has named us, even though we did not know Him yet, He still named us. How awesome is that thought. He knew before the foundations our very names.  These thoughts are just too awesome for me to wrap my head around sometimes, because our God is so very mighty and great that we cannot ever fully understand Him in this human flesh.
                Since God knows our names, and there is nothing hidden in His sight, then our prayers should be real. Sometimes I think we get caught up in doing prayer a certain way. I know at one time in my walk I struggled with prayer. I would come before the Lord and follow a set of guidelines in regards to prayer. I would start with admiration, praising Him for being God. Then I would move into a time of confession, telling Him all my sins. Then I would tell Him how thankful I was for His forgiveness and grace. Then I would move into listing off all my wants, making my supplications known to Him. Afterwards I would check prayer off my list of to do’s for the day. But then one day I realized that my prayers seemed to be hindered. There just seemed to be something missing in the midst of all the ceremony of my prayer time. It hit me then, and it hit me again last night. God already knows what it is in the depths of my heart so why am I trying to hide it from Him?
                “I pour out my complaint before Him; I declare before Him my trouble.” Psalm 142:2.

                David did not hold back. He poured out his complaint before the Lord. When you read through the Psalms you see the emotions of David and the other Psalmists. They did not hide their feelings from God. They did not follow some pattern on how to pray. They went before the Lord and poured out what was in their hearts because they knew and understood that God already knew what was in them. I remember the first time I read these words of David; I was so encouraged by them. I had thought I was doing prayer the way that I was supposed to. But I realized at that moment that prayer was nothing more than having a conversation with the Lord. There was no reason for me to hide my true feelings and emotions in regards to life, because God already knew that I was feeling that way. He knows me so intimately that I have no reason to hide anything from Him. Not only that, but He doesn’t want me to hide anything from Him. He wants us to get it out. He knows it is in there, He just wants us to realize it too.
                We are His. He knows us. God knows us by our names. He knows every detail about us and yet He still loves us. “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” (Hebrews 4:13) Pour out your all before the Lord, don’t hold back, do not sugar coat your emotions and make a ceremony out of your prayer time. He created you, He named you. He already knows what you are feeling. Your prayers cannot shock Him or cause Him to be surprised. He knows your name. He knows you better than you know yourself.
                After I realized that God didn’t want me to follow a pattern for prayer, but instead wanted me to open my heart and pour it all out before Him, my prayer life took on a life of its own. I had struggled for many years in regards to praying, but after this, no more. Now, I pray all the time. I get mad at my husband, I go before the Lord and tell Him about how angry I am and I lay out all my emotions before Him. I think sometimes we are so afraid to share what is in our hearts with the Lord because we think He doesn’t care about our emotions. But that is not our God. He cares for us so much that His thoughts towards us are more in number than the grains of sands upon this earth. He knows us so intimately that nothing we say, do, or think can surprise Him because He already knows it’s there.

                I want to encourage you today to spend some time pondering on what it means for the Lord your God to know your name. I pray that these words of mine also encourage you to go to the Lord in full openness, knowing that He wants to hear it all. If you are angry- tell Him. If you are lonely- tell Him. If you are sad- tell Him. If you need help- tell Him. He may already know what is in your heart, but He also wants us to tell Him so that He can be all that we will ever need. Amen?