I grew up quiet in the choir loft of a small Lutheran church.
Here in Minnesota, we have a lot of Scandinavian Lutheran folks, and I love being among them. We can belt out the old hymns and put our hands together for new worship songs. Lutherans love potluck suppers and make a mean hot dish. We have sweet and wild memories of church summers, mission trips, Bible camp on the lake, and Wednesday night youth group. Lutherans are the first to lend a hand and the last to leave (probably on account of our long, extended, drawn-out-in-the-parking-lot goodbyes.)
And when we say we’ll pray for you, we mean it.
Growing up in my little Lutheran church meant being polite to our elders, living kindly and being concerned about our neighbors. It meant loving and being loved by generations, all worshiping in the same building. It also meant being quiet, unless we were playing Sardines at the youth group lock-in. It meant sharing the love of Jesus in an understated, quiet way. It meant praying on our insides, out loud only before bed and meals.
In high school I attended a non-denominational Christian leadership camp. My guidance counselor, who was a faith mentor to me, signed me up to attend after seeing a spark in my heart for Jesus that I didn’t yet recognize. On the first day, I was late to arrive (no surprise to those who know me) and when I got there, everyone was already assembled in the auditorium to kick off the weekend. I walked in, took a seat, and God bowled me over.
The speaker in front was the camp coordinator, and he’d offered to begin our weekend in prayer. He opened his mouth, and words poured out like I’d never heard. This man was praying like Someone was actually listening, like Someone was going to answer. I had never heard prayer like this before, and I’m sure my jaw actually dropped.
Hearing prayers spoken out loud to God was life-changing.
Decades later, I love to pray. Talking to God is like breathing to me, conversation with Him non-ceasing in my head and heart. I’m constantly thanking, asking, chattering, remembering. I just finished writing a book of prayers for moms, and reading along here at (in)courage with our book study about the power of prayer.
My children are learning that we can talk to God all the time, about anything. Four-year-old Sam offers prayers that seem wise beyond his years, and when two-year-old Josie folds her dimpled toddler hands, I’m a puddle of mommy goo. They pray at bedtime and before meals, yes, but also in the van on the way to preschool. We pray when there’s a problem. We pray when we are thankful. We pray when we have questions. We write our prayers. My kids are praying and learning that their words are heard.
Many aspects of prayer still perplex me, but I do know that He hears us.
In small Lutheran churches on the prairies of the Midwest, in huge mega-churches in the middle of downtown cities, in quiet suburban living rooms, in our deepest heart of hearts. He hears you, friend. We can pray, no matter the state of our hearts or where we stand. He loves hearing from us in any moment.
Over the years, the ways I pray have changed, but the One to whom they rise has remained the same. Our God is the same God that walked in Eden, that flooded the earth and saved Noah, that sent His Son to be born in a manger and later took that Son home, that blinded Saul and turned his heart to Paul, that meets us today on our own roads to Damascus.
No matter where you walk today, let Him hear you. Whisper a prayer and, if you simply cannot, know that He even understands what’s in the silence. He’s got you, friend.
Bev @ Walking Well With God says
What beautiful thoughts on prayer…He hears us…listens intently….when we pray. And, when we can’t even pray the Holy Spirit intercedes on our behalf with groans that God understands. God “gets” us and there is, thankfully, no prayer too small or too big for God. He is able. He sees. He hears. And, He cares. Needed this reminder this morning.
Margo Dye says
Great devotional to start my week! Thank you, Anna, for your passionate words. Reminded me of “Miss Clara’s war room.” Pray out loud. Anywhere. Blessings to you and your precious family as you walk with Him this week.
Thanks , this was very uplifting
Beth Werner Lee says
I love your story! I was just thinking about writing a post on praying using the ACTS format but it can be changed up: CAST would be more of a Lutheran (I was in church when the idea came, interrupting the sermon for a split second) order and following the example of prophets who come before the Lord. But CATS would be great, blending Adoration and Thanksgiving perhaps. Anyway, that’s what I was thinking about and your message on praying constantly and boldly is a good encouragement, thank you.
Jay Bagalay says
CAST makes sense coz it would be nice (or proper) to Confess/ say sorry before anything else, right? Your fresh re-organization of CAST, it inspired me to do another new version, CATS. I’d like to make my thanksgiving first before petitions. Cats also is symbolic to me as like a cat animal, having lived many times over calls of near death. Glad I’m still here!! Another thing is if anyone is not familiar with this prayer format, anything that comes from the heart is so welcome to God. I, too, sometimes skip this structured praying.
Michele Morin says
Yes, I think we have to break the “sound barrier” with God – get over our reticence to pray for one another on the spot – by JUST DOING IT. I love hearing about your sweet communion with Him through prayer.
Sarah Sandifer says
My own prayer life has evolved and become so life-giving as I have grown and experienced some complicated parts of life and especially as I’ve become a mama, too. Love reading about your experience with this as well. And yes- God’s totally got this!
Anna, thank you for this beautiful post this morning. I love how you talk about talking to the Lord in words and silence. I have found there are times I have no words and I ask the Holy Spirit to intercede, who is so gently faithful. I praise the Lord for your sharing your prayer journey and pray the He blesses you and hugs each beautiful person here today 🙂
Kathy Foster says
So, He hears how often we pray, what we pray but don’t forget to listen for His answers! So often I miss His blessing because I’m fixated on my, not His answer! Thankfully, He under-
stands me and you so we get His message!
Rebecca Jones says
It is great to teach children to pray and more than a blessing or bedtime prayer. I had one little blonde boy, Brandon, I kept and when he sang What A Mighty God We Serve at one, I was a puddle of mommy goo and I wasn’t even his mother, God bless those dimpled hands and knees.
Anna, what a sweet post. I loved reading of your growing up experiences, and how God really spoke to you about prayer. This topic has been a tough one for us to help our boys learn. As I work on being more intentional about praying throughout my days, maybe my boys will learn to walk in this too. 🙂
Such wonderful thoughts on prayer!
Jenny Howell says
I’ve never heard from God OR talked to God, really expecting to carry on a conversation until I read “Walking With God” by J. Eldridge. So much real talk there that we don’t get into unless closely walking with a pal who really walks with Him! I can’t wait to read your book of prayers for Mommas, cause you know we offer up more than we remember in an hour’s time :).
Nancy Ruegg says
Appreciated your comment about our prayers changing over the years. As we become better acquainted with God and practice his presence, our communication does indeed change. One time I heard a radio-show guest begin his prayer with a softly-spoken, “Hi, God.” I’d never heard God addressed like that! But instead of communicating disrespect, it sounded tender, familial, and friendly. I greatly appreciated that pastor’s tone, the simple words, and his up-close-and-personal attitude. That was one catalyst for change in my prayer life.
Beth Williams says
I loved your story. Great insights and wisdom on prayer. After watching the movie “War Room” (3 times) I have become a more fervent prayer warrior. In my car I listen to quiet praise and worship music & pray to God while driving. I find myself praying more. I have even gone so far as to rebuke the devil from my house-like Elizabeth in the movie.
Joanna @ Modern Ruth Project says
Thanks for the encouraging post! I think the biggest change in my prayer life has been when I started praying like He was really listening and believing that He both had the power and the love to respond to my prayers. So often I think we just pray small prayers because we don’t really believe He is listening. I now thank Him in advance for hearing me! Good reminder!
Tara Ulrich says
Love love love this friend!
Experienced Bad Mom says
Thank you for the encouragement today! This part got me: Over the years, the ways I pray have changed, but the One to whom they rise has remained the same.
Beautiful! Just beautiful! Amen!
Renee Swope says
I love this Anna!! Especially these closing tender words that my heart needed to hear: “No matter where you walk today, let Him hear you. Whisper a prayer and, if you simply cannot, know that He even understands what’s in the silence. He’s got you, friend.” xoxo