Is prayer simply a matter of believing and receiving? I’ve asked and knocked many times, only to be disappointed when my prayers have not been answered as I hoped. Yet I continue to pray daily and with faith. For in the midst of those times when I feel I’m not getting what I want, I have the experience and reassurance a God that does hear my requests and often replies in ways that are over and above anything I could have imagined. So is there power in prayer? Absolutely.
Prayer does not change God, but it changes him who prays. Søren Kierkegaard
For me faith and prayer are entwined. Through faith I can pray with conviction and anticipation, which in turn releases faith.
At one time though I had very little faith and my prayers were simply cries of despair to an unknown divinity. As a child I was taught about God and church, but my own experiences of abuse and rejection confirmed my assumption that religion was the privilege of the good. My lack of self-worth and insecurities led me to believe that not only was I bad, but that somehow I was to blame for the traumas I had undergone. Essentially I wasn’t good enough for God to intervene in my life.
Even though my only speck of faith was to acknowledge the existence of a Higher Power, I still called out in the hope I would be heard. I prayed for the mother who had abandoned me to return and for the father who made my life a living hell to disappear. Hating everything about my life and my self I prayed to be transformed into someone else; anyone else but me. Of course none of my appeals transpired and I held on to the belief that God answered only the prayers of the privileged faithful. How wrong I was!
But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. James 1:6 NIV
It was witnessing other people’s prayers being answered that convinced me of the power of words spoken in faith. During my twenty year battle with depression and alcoholism I had cried out to God in the same way I had as a child – faithless demands for healing. It was little wonder my irreverent calls for change in my life appeared to be ignored.
Slipping down a spiral of physical and emotional self-destruct, it was no surprise to those around me that I would eventually try to take my own life. Yet it was at that time of hitting rock bottom that I became aware of other people praying for me.
Significantly they weren’t only praying for me to overcome my severe depression and alcohol abuse, they were seeking a breakthrough in my faith. They prayed that I too would come to know and trust a loving Father, a compassionate Saviour and a restorative Holy Spirit. And I did.
God speaks in the silence of the heart. Listening is the beginning of prayer. Mother Teresa
Slowly but surely those kind, generous friends who had appealed on my behalf saw an answer to their prayers. For I opened up my heart to a loving God who showed me nothing but abundant grace and endless mercy. I reclaimed my faith and in doing so I reclaimed my life.
I allowed God to speak into my once silent heart and I started to listen to His voice. I learnt that faith had nothing to do with the religion I had encountered. And I developed a relationship that was founded on unconditional love. Finally I felt like I was good enough.
With hindsight ‘feeling good enough’ had been my heart’s desire all along. Neither my mother or father would ever have been able to replace the love that they should have shown me. For all the prayers in the world could not have changed the past.
‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ Jeremiah 29:11
Yet God sees not only the past, but the future. Through helping me overcome my difficulties His strength was revealed through my weakness and His love was poured out to restore me to a place healing that can only be described as miraculous. Sixteen years in recovery has brought me to a place of joy and peace that I could never have envisaged.
My restoration began with the prayers of others who shone lightness into my darkness. My journey continues in strength as I have taken up the baton of prayer and now run with that light into the lives of others. Prayer is a key which opens the door to healing from the past, hope for today and expectation for tomorrow. It’s how I begin each day and end each evening. I pray about everything and anything in the knowledge that it’s not my will but His that will be done.
Prayer is the key of the morning and the bolt of the evening. Mahatma Ghandi
This post is dedicated to my amazing friend Bernice Walters who saved my life through prayer.
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© Carolyn Hughes -Hurt Healer 2014