People or Prayer First?

woman in prayer
I wasn't making any space to hear God speak into my need for direction and wisdom when I turned to people first.

Editor’s note: This piece was originally published in 2013.

Last week I was just minding my own business, looking for a new recipe on Pinterest. But as I was scrolling through all the images, I came across something that convicted me. Don’t you hate when that happens?

It was all good until I read this quote: Have you prayed about it as much as you’ve talked about it?

This convicted me because being consistent in my prayer life is something I’ve always struggled with. And often I remember to pray about something long after I’ve talked about it with other people.

It’s not that processing things with friends or seeking wise counsel is wrong at all. I’m a verbal processor, so it’s helpful to talk things through with my friends or my parents. And sharing the details of our lives is part of building relationships. But I often see in my own life that I turn to people first, instead of going to God in prayer.

Last year I got an email, completely out of the blue, about an opening at a company I had interviewed with years ago. My résumé was still on file, and the hiring manager had heard my name before, so he contacted me to see if I was interested in interviewing for the position. If I got the job it would mean selling my house and relocating to a new city. It was a potentially life-changing decision and not one I wanted to take lightly.

My first instinct after I read the email was to call my friend who works for the company and ask him about the position. I wish my first instinct had been to pray and ask God to show me how to proceed. And maybe He would have answered my prayer through the counsel of my friend. But I definitely hadn’t prayed about it before I talked about it. I didn’t create any space to hear God speak into my need for direction and wisdom.

I don’t really know what it looks like to “pray without ceasing“ (1 Thessalonians 5:17).  But I’m trying to learn, and the words of Brother Lawrence, the author of The Practice of the Presence of God, have helped me.

“The most holy and necessary practice in our spiritual life is the presence of God. That means finding constant pleasure in His divine company, speaking humbly and lovingly with Him in all seasons, at every moment, without limiting the conversation in any way. This is especially important in times of temptation, sorrow, separation from God, and even in times of unfaithfulness and sin. We must try to converse with God in little ways while we do our work, not in memorized prayer, not trying to recite previously formed thoughts. Rather, we should purely and simply reveal our hearts as the words come to us.”

What’s helped you cultivate your prayer life? Do you ever find yourself talking about something more than praying about it?

Copyright 2013 Ashley Boyer Hendley.

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