From Carly,

Hey guys, so lately I’ve felt lead to talk about the subject of prayer and hopefully encourage many who may feel like God isn’t listening or answering them in their time of need.

Prayer is something that has been extremely influential in my life. In a sense, without sounding super weird, prayer is like my best friend. Or better yet, the Lord, who hears my prayers, who is the reason behind my every thought or request, this personal, caring God, is my best friend. My heavenly father. The one I can talk to about anything in the world. The one I can speak to without speaking. The one who is there when I’m feeling upset, frustrated, discouraged, even excited or lonely.

He’s never not there for me, and the cool thing is: He listens. Prayer is one of the main acts of worship to the Lord. When we pray, we fully offer our attention, our thoughts, our worries and struggles to the Lord.

One of the greatest things about prayer is it will always be there, like an instant line of communication to God. Now think about your friends here on earth. Do you ever try to reach a friend, and in the process leave them 24 messages and 68 texts? Is it ever hard to get in contact with them when you need them the most? Do you ever forget to charge your phone and instantly lose all contact with the outside world? I know I do.

The thing about our Lord is that He is always listening. He knows your thoughts for crying out loud! We don’t have to charge our phone to call Him. We don’t have to wait to talk or question whether He heard that last sentence because we were driving on a backroad. He’s right here in your heart, all you have to do is invite Him in and talk. Have a conversation in the middle of the day. Talk about what’s on your mind, something that’s been worrying you or bugging you lately. The amazing thing is, He already knows and is working on it right this very second. The Lord doesn’t need us to reach out to Him. He can function perfectly fine without us, but He desires to be near us and be in our lives. He wants to dwell in your heart and answer your prayers in His timing.

His timing. For most, this is a difficult concept. As humans, we all have this thing inside us called our sinful nature. Basically, we are all sinful creatures and desire for all things to go OUR way on OUR timing because we know what’s best. The crazy thing is, we never stop to think about God’s timing. He created the earth in six days and then He rested on the seventh, was that our perfect timing or His? He is the essence of perfection, blameless and pure. Whereas, we are the essence of selfishness and pride. I don’t know about you, but I would want the Creator of the world to guide my life and, though it may be difficult to let go of my human desires, trust in His good and perfect timing.

Speaking of God’s perfect timing, let me tell you a little story about the Lord’s plan for a situation in my life that seemed never-ending. With the power of persistent prayer, I realized that this situation was exactly what the Lord had planned for my life.

My dad had been chewing tobacco since he was in college. As most of you know, tobacco is not good for your health. It’s not like it says in the Bible, “Thou shalt not cheweth tobacco.” No, it wasn’t necessarily wrong, but it was potentially dangerous for his health later on. Growing up, I had never thought anything of it, it was normal.

It was when my mom started to point out the risks of his habit and the benefits of quitting, that I truly began to recognize the reality of the situation. I didn’t want my dad to get sick when I got older, why couldn’t he just stop? So little 9 year old Carly decided she would pray about it every night before bed, asking the Lord to take the addiction away. After a couple of years of asking the Lord, the prayer became routine, and found it’s place in the multiple-line, memorized prayer citation every night.

I began to pray for my dad’s healing without even thinking. I let it become a memorized, planned-out prayer that meant nothing to me. I was just going through the motions, not realizing that I was doubting God every single time the meaningless words left my lips.

It wasn’t until I was 12 years old that I heard a speaker talk about the repetitiveness of prayer and how we so often become lazy and forget the reason we’re even praying for that certain thing in the first place. This immediately grabbed my attention and as I sat there, I began to “rehearse” my nightly prayer:

“God, thank you for this day and for watching over us. God bless Mom, Dad, my brothers, my sisters, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and friends. Watch over Dad and help him to stop chewing tobacco…” 

WOW! It was like a song that you know so well that you don’t even know you’re singing every word to. It was like I erased 20 seconds of my memory because I was thinking about absolutely NOTHING. The Lord so graciously convicted me of my naive nature and made me realize exactly what I was telling myself for years. I thought I was being persistent in prayer by “never giving up.” The truth is, I was being persistent in overlooking the reason I first came to the Lord in prayer all those years ago.

From then on, my prayer to the Lord, which became more of a never-ending conversation throughout the day, was specific to that day’s struggle or victory. No longer would I start and end my conversation with the Lord using the same stinking words to make it “sound nice and professional.” I barely ever have the exact same conversation, word for word, with my friends. Why would I especially do that with God, the one that knows every thought of mine?

So long story short, after I genuinely began praying without ceasing, realizing the power of prayer was mighty and from the Lord Himself, I began to see His hand in the life of my dad. My dad suddenly realized he wanted to get rid of the burden of addiction and stop while he was still healthy. That only fueled my determination, and I began to ask the Lord to heal him in His timing, knowing that He was already working on it.

Now, because of the power of persistent, purposeful prayer, my father has now been tobacco free for over 5 years! The Lord used this situation to introduce me to the relationship He desires to have with me and the possibility of the conversations I now long for everyday with Him.

This may not have been the greatest tragedy you’ve ever heard of, but waiting for the Lord to answer, waiting on the unknown, is truly a test of faith. Trusting in the Lord to show you His perfect plan requires patience, and all of this can only come from God Himself.

Guess who you can ask to give you patience in a trial? Oh yeah right, the only one who can know your every desire and struggle, the only one you can open your heart to and fully trust. Right here, right now, just ask the Lord. Prayer is just a friendly conversation, an act of worship to the Lord. I encourage you to just talk with Him. It doesn’t have to be formal or proper. He’s your heavenly father, and all He wants is to listen to you and love you.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7 NIV

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