Christian Living, Life, Prayer, spirituality, Thoughts

making conversation

I’m the type of person that is extremely conversational when it comes to how I pray. Like, I’ll laugh with God, talk with Him just like I talk to my friends. I just make conversation with Him.

Why? Because I believe that’s what God wants. Yes, I know, He said, “This, then, is how you should pray…” But I believe God delights deeply in authenticity when we talk with Him. And why shouldn’t He? The Bible is ripe with comparisons between human relationships and our relationship with God. Why should our prayers – our conversation – be so formal and traditional and uptight and scripted? Where is our authenticity?

As a youth pastor, I always tell my students when they make comments about feeling awkward when they pray out loud the exact same thing: “God loves the awkwardness. He loves the stumbling and the humor and the little bits of your personality that shine through. He loves the realness, because it is wholly and completely you. It sounds like you and nobody else. And that’s all God wants. You.”

I sometimes wonder about non-charismatic believers. Those who are cessationist, or simply pay no attention to the supernatural realness of God in the world today are missing out on a huge part of the character of God and the depth of this life and the next. But I wonder how that also plays a part in their personal relationship with God. Void of a heavenly prayer language, ignorant of the prophetic power of the Holy Spirit, unaffected by words of encouragement, words of knowledge, words of faith, what does their prayer life look like? Do they keep it traditional and pray in the mornings when they wake, in the evenings when they go to sleep, and over every meal? Or does their prayer life come alive? Do they talk with God throughout the day. Every person I know in my circle of believers who identify as charismatic/Pentecostal has a very living prayer life. They spend not just minutes, but hours talking with God, making conversation, but also crying out to Him, laying themselves down before Him.

Myself, I pray rather constantly. When I’m at work and it’s slow, I’ll just talk with God. Often, I’ll be praying over my coworkers, over my city, over my church, over my youth. Isn’t that what it should look like? Isn’t prayer supposed to be an active part of our everyday lives – not an appointment we’re obligated to keep?

I believe so. Awhile ago, I posted a post titled You Can Have Your Dead Gods. In it, I said, “You can keep your rights and your opinions and your attitudes. You can tout your dead gods and old religions and rusty traditions. You can have it all. But me? Give me Jesus.”

Again I say, you can keep your dry bones, your traditions, your sacraments, your ceremonies, your liturgies. But me? I need something that’s alive, something that I feel, something that lives inside of me, something that I breathe. Faith is never meant to be dead; it’s meant to bring the dead to life.

Christian Living, Life, Ministry, Prayer

interrupting heaven

Father,

Where are You taking me? I’m not sure where I’m going. I feel excited and nervous and anxious and scared. And I hate that I don’t know where I’m going. My heart is being pulled in about a thousand different directions. If I’m honest, I don’t know that I want this mantle of ministry I’ve carried since I felt the call all those years ago. It’s scary. And it’s hard. And it’s painful.

Sometimes, I wish for a simpler life. Wouldn’t it be much easier to just be a Christian attending church faithfully while being able to pursue my dreams at the college of my choice? I could’ve been a professional writer, photographer, graphic designer, musician. Instead, I almost feel like I’m forced to go to college for ministry. And while I love it, at the same time I… dread it. Is this what it’s going to be like for the rest of my ministry? Is it going to be nothing but pain as I watch the students I’ve loved and cherished and invested my time and energy into walk away from you? Is it going to be nothing but blood and bruises as parents deride me for being direct about the real issues those kids are facing? Is it nothing but disappointment when I see parents make horrible decisions that affect their kids horribly?

Dad, I could be leading thousands to You through my music. Wouldn’t that be time better spent? Wouldn’t my talents be more useful then?

You know the thoughts of my heart. You know my dreams and desires. You know how I long to live alone pursuing the things that make me happy in a loft overlooking New York City. You know how I long for the solitude and the wonder of dwelling among Your creation in a lonely cottage in Ireland. You know how I long to simply be only a worship leader and let someone else take up the mantle of youth pastor. You know how I long to travel the world and awaken the wonder within me.

You know all these things, but still You call me toward this ministry. Not just as a youth pastor, but also as a worship leader. But how often do youth pastors travel the world leading worship with Hillsong and Planetshakers? I guess it just seems like I have to be one or the other.

But maybe I can be both.

God, give me the ability and the desire to step into the call You’ve placed on my life without hesitation, fearless. Let Your thoughts become my thoughts.

If it’s Your will, illuminate the path before me, but if not… give me peace through the mystery. Separate my will from Your will. Make Your desires clear to me and make them my own.

I don’t want to do anything apart from You, for I can do nothing without You.

Abba, I long to know joy in the hard times. I long to know peace amidst the storm. I long to feel celebration when I should feel sorrow. I’m a dreadfully sullen and brooding person. But make me like You. Mold me into a person of joy and constant happiness. Let me be satisfied in You alone.

Don’t let failure take from me my birthright. Don’t let unforgiveness and bitterness and hurt bring me away from my purpose.

Make me Your mosaic, Father. The fractures between the pieces are still visible, but let Your light shine through them.

Radiate Yourself through my undoing.

Father, there is one thing I desire: It’s You. Everything You have for me, everywhere You’re taking me. All of it.

You’re all I want.