Over the past five years my understanding of prayer has deepened exponentially. Between a handful of amazing reads, plus experiencing a small group prayer circle for the first time, I have opened my mind to a variety of different ways to pray, each one helping me break out of the rote rut I found myself in.
But I am still a long way from being the prayer warrior I have seen in some others.
Too often I am held back by the fear that I shouldn't ask God for anything that I want. I feel selfish in praying for something I want because it is not a dire need, or it is not important in the grand scheme of things. It's sort of like when I was pregnant with Juliette and people asked if I hoped it was a girl, and I said "I just want a healthy baby," because we really do hope our babies will be healthy. But you know what? I really, really did want to have a little girl. I was afraid to voice, it however, because it felt selfish. I wasn't supposed to want anything more than healthy.
But God cares about giving us good gifts, not just simply filling basic needs. He tells us to "ask, and we shall receive." It's the "asking" part I'm not very good at. But I desperately want to open my heart more, have deeper conversations with God. Every night before we say our family nighttime prayer, we go around and say things we are grateful for and things we would like to pray for. As I listen to my boys articulate their requests, I am struck by how open and honest children are. God wants us to be like these precious little children. He wants us to come to Him, call him "Abba" (Daddy) and pour out our hearts and desires to Him.
I have always been struck by the definition of prayer that it is "the act of bringing one's will in line with the Father's will." ("Not my will, but thine be done.") But in trying to understand this biblical verse, I have tiptoed around my deepest desires, and in doing so, have become more like the hypocritical Pharisees than I would like to admit. I'm not coming before God in honesty, but in a stiff ideological version of who I think I should be before him. When I hear my children's prayers, I don't see them as selfish, I see them as true to who each child is.
I do not want to be afraid to ask for the things I feel my family, my children, my relationships, or I need. For if I do not ask, how can I expect to ever receive?