Thursday, October 20, 2011

Hearing God Speak

“Mom, how do you know when God is talking to you? Can you hear Him? Because if it is a voice I am listening for, I have never heard Him. I don’t understand how I’m supposed to know what He’s saying when He doesn’t talk in words with a voice.”
For several months I suffered from prayer block. It was terrible. No matter how hard I tried to focus, I simply could NOT get that feeling of a discussion with God. I was talking to myself.
It happened after an extended period of time in intense prayer for the healing of a 9 year old boy, my hero. (I will call him Ean.) I believed God could and would heal him. When his healing happened on May 16, 2010, it broke me. I went through a phase of, “Why bother praying?!” I even ceased praying with my daughters because I felt like a fraudulent pray-er. All I was doing was talking and saying what we are “supposed to say” when we pray. I didn’t think it, feel it or mean it. My prayers were only words.
The part I recall the most during that time was when I was with the parents of Ean. They are some of my best friends and we try to spend time together regularly. In spite of their loss, before we eat, no matter where we are, they always stop to pray. Their prayers sent a message to me. I suppose it was the only way God could talk to me that my heart would hear.
Their son left this earth, and they had prayed just as hard … HARDER … than me while he was sick; yet, they still pray. They hold hands and talk to God. In every single prayer, they mention Ean. His sweet Mommy will say, “Tell Ean hi and give my baby a big hug from all of us. Tell him we love him.” I love how comfortably she talks to the Big Man.
I have wondered how and why they could do that and why I could not. Truthfully, THOSE dinner prayers are some of the only ones during that time when I felt like I had been in contact with God, or close to him. Maybe not a direct talk between me and Him, but at least it was like sitting closely with a group of people who were talking and you were allowed to sit in the circle. Even if you didn’t join in on the conversation, they included you by not whispering. That was how I felt and it was better than nothing. At least God was sitting in that conversation and I knew it.
          Over time, my wall has slowly diminished and I can talk with my Father again. I missed our talks. Now I am back to praying regularly. My oldest daughter usually prays solo, but my youngest is still trying to find her way. She and I pray every single night before she goes to sleep. It doesn’t matter if she has friends over or not, she always says, “Mom, I’m ready to say our prayers.”
          We rotate. I pray one night and she does the next. I am reminded that I am aging as each night I struggle to remember whose turn it is. Anyway, I started attending a weekly class a few weeks ago. Every day we begin the class with The Lord’s Prayer and end with The Serenity Prayer. I decided to incorporate those 2 prayers in our nighttime ritual. I explained each phrase to my daughter so she understood what they meant and what we were saying. That way, if she ever gets a prayer block like I did and she cannot find words, maybe she will think to turn to these prayers and rely on them.
          At first, my little Karly would say, “I will never remember all that! How do you remember all the words?”
Now, we say them in unison and it is like a beautiful, spoken song. After we say both of them, we continue with our rotating prayers about personal stuff.
It was about a week ago that she asked me the question I have in pink at the top of this entry. We were talking about what’s going on in her life (because being 12 is sometimes dramatic and difficult.) She was telling me about a problem with some of the girls in her grade and I was attempting to give good motherly advice. Obviously, the easiest, best advice is to just hang out primarily with the boys and spare yourself the female, hormonal drama. I reminded her, “The girls are also going through what you are going through when you have these crazy moods that you do not understand. So, all of you together can be chaos.”
Then I went on to tell her that instead of participating in the verbal drama, just go get a book or hang out alone. There is NOTHING wrong with spending time alone. Then I asked her, “What could you do during that time? Who could you talk to?”
She knew and said, “God.”
I smiled and added, “Yep, and you can ask Him for help with whatever is going on at that moment … and He WILL help you. He will give you peace and direction. No matter where you are, you are never alone. Ever.”
She wanted to know how to hear what He says and that she had never heard Him … but she has. It was kind of fun explaining how God/Jesus/the Holy Spirit speak. I love it when I KNOW what to do because I was told in Their language. Its not always fun or the "easy road" to be obedient, but you still know and hear.
I reminded her, “Remember that night when you didn’t tell me all of the truth, but you came to me and said, ‘I didn’t tell you all of the truth,’ and then you told me? Why did you do that? Did you feel something almost pushing you to do the right thing? Was your tummy in a knot?”
She got it. She understood God talk …

To sum this up, I will need to connect 2 things.
·        1) The class I mentioned about the prayer reciting is a study on codependency. Basically, codependent people try to fix everything and we think if we try hard enough, we can make almost anything happen. We have a solution to every problem. It is a form of a control issue, but we don’t feel controlling, we feel controlled by people or situations. Then we discover we did it all to ourselves and need to learn a simple lesson: HAND IT OVER TO GOD. He is the ONLY One who can fix anything.
·        2) Though I DO pray with my kids, I am not an out loud prayer person. I just don’t do that. It makes me shake and sweat.

Therefore, you can imagine what it was like for me the other day when I had a dear friend/client in my chair weeping. She had every worry and burden on her shoulders. I could see so many things plain as day, but she is almost 40 years older than me, so who am I to say ANYTHING? What wisdom or help can I offer?
A force hit me like a brick, “PRAY WITH HER.”
There I was, standing and doing her hair. I knew I needed to do it, but I just couldn’t. Then she moved to another chair to get her money from her wallet and I still knew I needed to pray with her. I kept trying to position a chair near her in some way both times as a place to sit during this uncomfortable prompting demand from God. I could hear my daughter, “How do you know when God talks to you?”
         At this moment I would say {possibly with a slighly frustrated tone,} “BECAUSE HE WON’T STOP TIL YOU DO WHAT HE SAYS!!! NO MATTER HOW HARD YOU TRY TO IGNORE HIM. Even if you don’t want to, but know its right and that you have to … That’s Him talking.”
I tried to do MY version of obedience by talking about prayer. Maybe THAT would be enough. I asked her about praying and she said that she looks at it in a gratitude way. If you cannot be thankful for what you have, you do not need to be asking for more. With all due respect, I had to disagree. She looked perplexed. I went on to explain, “I believe God wants us to turn to Him for EVERYTHING. If we have a problem, need or want and we do not ask Him, what happens? We turn to ourselves or someone else. He is God of ALL and wants to be the One we go to for all. If we try to handle things without Him, it is not pleasing to Him.”
As I attempted to be obedient by this conversation and let it be all I did, I was reminded of the gift I had received that morning. I felt very alone and scared for some reason … and kind of hopeless. Then, I got a text from Ean’s aunt. I haven’t heard from her in months, but the text said, “Just wanted you to know you are being thought of and prayed for today. Love ya!”
I responded by thanking her and telling her how I secretly felt alone and scared. She responded, “Well, you’re not. And God wanted you to know you’re not and that’s why He put you on my heart.”
As I had told my daughter, this is how God works.
Now, I had someone placed on my heart. Another soft whisper informed me, “Ean’s aunt was obedient to what was placed on her heart. Will you not give back to God after receiving that gift from Him today? You are to pray with her.”
Then, my client walked out the door. We sat out on my patio and talked a little more. I knew what I knew and decided the regret and disobedience would be worse than this uncomfortable moment.
I asked, “Would it be ok if I pray?”
Her eyes got huge, then filled with tears, “Oh my … oh … Yes! Oh, yes honey. Please do…”
I did. I prayed what was on my heart and it even helped me to hear it. The prayer was a combination of so many things. I didn’t try to help her with my direct words, but what was prompted within me.
She is having a prayer block as I once did. She is worried about the health of her kids and grandchildren … things out of her control. She feels alone. It was awesome to pray for God to set her free of what is His. Holding her hand, praying for peace to be given to her in abundance and for her to feel the amazing love God has for her and her family was a blessing to both of us … and God had been heard. We were both reminded that the love we have for our children and family cannot compare to the love God has for them or us.
She wept through the entire prayer and thanked me by her inability to speak. She was in awe and had been set free of so much right then. BUT, I was not the one who deserved the glory. That was the cool part. I had the opportunity and privilege to see God work just by listening to Him. Actually, I experienced His speaking twice in one day, both on the delivering and receiving end.
Sometimes it is assuring to say or hear the words, “I will pray for you,” but other times there is more impactful help in actually DOING it right then and there. I am glad I did.

Listening for God to speak,

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