Lord, I have heard of your fame;
I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord.
Repeat them in our day,
in our time make them known;
in wrath remember mercy. Habakkuk 3:2
As we are quickly approaching the Lenten season, I wanted to step into some daily prayers found in the Bible that will prepare our hearts and minds to step into Lent together. Over the next 5 days, I want to take time to really step into these prayers that have always been in Scripture but maybe have not been fully processed in our minds as ones that are valuable to our every day lives. So I invite to you join with me as we go through these next 5 days in preparation for Lent. Saying that, I also want to encourage everyone to be in prayer as God is preparing to share with each of us hopefully a time of closer connection. As we begin the journey from the cross to the grave and back into life, I want us to really take a moment and realize the power of God's love that continues to surround us through our daily prayers. Now, I have to also be honest. I know that growing up my daily prayers were very short, simple and to the point, and there is NOTHING wrong with that type of prayer if it is heartfelt and not wishful thinking. But I have also found that my daily prayers have become something that is more calming and communicative than just an ask and wait for a response scenario. I have always heard that one day we should all be comfortable enough with God to create a prayer life that is conversational and open for immediate response. Daily prayers offer us this ability to come into an intimate setting with God that many of us only allow for our close loved ones and friends to experience. It is a level of trust that is completely open, wounds and all... scars and all... and provides direct access to our hearts, minds and souls.
In these moments, we are able to truly begin discerning the real voice of God. Yes it can be audible. Yes, it can be internal. Yes, it can be spoken from those that interact with you on a daily basis. The daily prayers may be the settling time that each of us needs to be able to tune out the noise and tune into the message that God has been trying to tell us for years. In today's lifestyle, even in COVID, we found ourselves just too busy to spend time perfecting this communicative process with God. We find so many ways to make excuses and still have expectations to receive something when we have not put in any effort at all. Instead, we need to find a place that will give us the opportunity to finally be real. We need to finally
realize that God is walking, riding, working, singing, dancing, writing, etc... with us and is ready to begin invading our lives. The one thing that still blows me away is that HE is waiting for the invitation to be a part of our lives. He is waiting to be invited into the conversation in hopes of it not just being one sided but truly a conversation that can create such an amazing dialogue with God. Those of you that have never had that experience, I challenge you today to just find some time in your day and go be awkward with God. Yeah I said it... It is going to be awkward because it is something that many of us have never really tried and honestly it is something that we as the church probably have failed to properly teach how to do. BUT when you get over the first few steps, you will begin to watch as the awkwardness turns into assurance and the silence into real conversation.
So we begin this journey of preparation with a prayer from Habakkuk. Habakkuk was a prophet the was seeking answers from God. He saw a world that was dying and in desperate need of connection with the Creator, and so his heart reached out to God. Habakkuk wanted answers from God and provided for us a way to seek answers in difficult situations. He asked many questions that so many of us are probably asking as well and so I encourage also to take the time to dig a little deeper into the prophets story. Tell me if some of his questions sound familiar, "Why is there evil in the world?, Why do the wicked seem to be winning?, Why do you make me look at injustice?, or Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?" Habakkuk's prayer, after hearing God's response begins by him reaffirming who God is and asking for God to once again be present in this day. Habakkuk stands in awe of God and prays for God's mercy to reign over the wrath that we deserve. Why is all of this so powerful, because I wanted to show you how prayer was conversational and intimate with Habakkuk and God. Yes, there were times when Habakkuk was here broken, passionate and angry and other times when he was humbled and stood in awe. Regardless of his daily prayer/encounters with God, he was HONEST and OPEN. And this crazy thing happened... Scripture says that God responded. How? Because Habakkuk had already been talking with God through conversational prayer before. Habakkuk's life was one that allowed him the ability to have intimate prayer because of the trust and humility towards God that he brought to the conversation. The same is true for us. We can have these conversions with God, but we have to be ready to listen for the voice of God to respond and be heard.
So as we begin this 5 day journey of daily prayers in preparation for our Lenten journey, I ask that you begin to be open to actually having conversations with God. Think of God as a person that already knows all of your darkest secrets and still loves you all the same. Recognize that our daily prayers are not meant to be a check list of demands that God has to fulfill like a genie in a bottle, but that it is a moment where we can actually fully connect with GOD. I know that seems a little crazy, but it is the direct access that many of us are truly asking for during this time of isolation and daily craziness. So here is how it begins. Find a place where you can be alone and fully focused. Don't do it in your living room with the television on. Find a place, or even just go and get in your car and drive. Quick fun fact, you don't have to close your eyes to pray... especially if your quiet place is driving the car. BUT
find a place like a sitting room, in the backyard, around your fire pit, at the beach... just anywhere where you can be open and free of boundaries. Second, just start a conversation. Yes, I know it will feel really weird, but one of the greatest things is that we are truly humbled and present everything to God. Some of us may just need to get it all out on the table because we have been carrying it inside so long that we have this baggage that weighs us down. I am saying find a place and just let it all out and be honest. There is no one else listening except maybe your dog or an insect flying by. You don't have to hold it back anymore. Just like Habakkuk, present your frustrations to God and then wait and see the response. And yes, the response may be silence for now until you begin to truly listen and discern how God speaks to you. Finally, just breathe and know that these daily prayers are ways just to get all of the junk and the stuff that is taking up the space on the inside out so that God can begin restoring or adding to your temple. It is not a simple process, but I am telling you that daily prayers and conversations with God will begin to provide peace into the chaos. It starts with one prayer to ask God to step in and help us to reconnect with Him again. Until tomorrow... Let's us pray.