prayer - go big or go home?

I have to admit something. And I really hope I'm not alone when I make this confession.

I have often felt like my prayer life is a struggle.

And it's not that I don't know how to pray. It's not for lack of people, situations, or things to pray for. I honestly think it's because I have never felt like it's enough.

Which is a radical thing to say as a Lutheran. Scripture alone. Faith alone. Grace alone. It's been hammered into me since my youth - nothing I have ever done, am doing, or will do is enough to gain salvation. It's only through faith in the blood of Christ, sent by God out of his undeserved love for me.

So why do I even bother to think about not praying "enough?"

Well, simply put, the Bible tells us to pray continually. To be faithful in prayer. It often seems a lofty and unattainable goal.

It's like this:

Have you ever forgotten to pay a bill or send an email? You always seem to think of it when you can't take care of it - then forget again when you return home. The longer you go without completing the task, the more you don't want to think about it. It becomes this giant storm cloud looming over you. When really, if you just took care of it right away, it would barely register as an event in your life - much less a problem.

That's how prayer sometimes feels for me. Whoops, I forgot to pray before that meal to thank God for the endless supply of food and nutrition he has blessed me with. I complained to my husband, mom, and sisters about that problem before I remembered to pray about it. I worked so hard to achieve a goal on my own without asking for God's blessing. I made a huge decision about my life without consulting the Lord first.

Before I know it, I feel so ashamed of how little I communicate with my Father in heaven that I don't even want to think about it.

Good news, though! God still wants me to pray, anyway. He commands me to talk to him. He listens to me. He answers me.

Not because I was the best at remembering to always turn to him first in thanksgiving, supplication, or acknowledgement.

But because of what he's done for me. He bought me and redeemed me - I am his own dear child! Parents - no matter how often your children forget to call (oops, sorry Mom!), do you not still want to hear from them?

You guys, I've got to stop treating prayer like it's a phone call I'm obligated to make 3 times a day. Instead, the answer lies, as always, in thankfulness. It is a gift and a privilege to approach the great I Am. May my gratitude overflow to the point where I can't stop thinking about God. May I hunger and thirst to speak to my Father. May I remember all that he has done for me, and boldly ask for his blessing. May prayer be my first thought instead of my last resort.

After all, the Creator of the Universe is on my side - and he wants to hear from me! It only makes sense to start and end my day with him. It only makes sense to ask for his help and advice. So this week, I am meditating on this verse from Proverbs:

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:5-6

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