Prayer is essential to the Christian faith. However, prayer only works if you do.
Okay, so I realize the above statement sounds pretty harsh, right? But when we recognize the true action of prayer, then we are able to fully step into the heart of why we pray.
Prayer only works if you do.
In other words, when we align ourselves in prayer then we are able to step into a prayer mindset. Just like our dreams and goals don’t work unless we do, prayer works the same way. When we don’t put action into our prayer lives, it simply becomes wishful thinking.
We can’t pray for God to release negative energy if we aren’t first allowing ourselves to freely let go. If we have a tight grip on something that we are so desperately wanting God to take from us, there isn’t any room for God to work.
We Can’t Ask God to Take Something from Us that We’re Not Ready to Let Go of
Let me share with you an instance where this was absolutely true for me.
Several years ago, before I ever met Cody, I had just gotten out of a serious relationship. It was really hard for me during the breakup and really wrecked me. For six months, I agonized over the relationship. I tried finding subtle ways to sneak myself back into this person’s life. Looking back now, I recognize that I was in an unhealthy mental space.
Honestly, the longer the months we had been apart, the more my thoughts and feelings became obsessive. It was all I could think about and all I could talk about. But the thing is, during this entire situation, I was praying that God would take away the desires of my heart. Despite the fact that he had already moved on to a new girlfriend and despite the fact I was slowly stepping into who I was truly called to be, I still felt heavy. The thing is, I was praying for God to take something away from me that I wasn’t willing to let go of.
I was holding a tight grip on an old relationship that I wasn’t quite ready to willingly give up.
Prayer is a Mindset that Allows Us to Shift Our Focus to God
Eventually, this was something that I had to find out the hard way. At the start of the spring semester of my freshman year at college, I attended a girl’s retreat. One of my friends who was helping put this weekend getaway had been my former D Group leader whom I had gotten pretty close to during the fall semester. She knew how heavy my heart had been since the start of college just a few months prior. And she knew that I was lugging around some heavy baggage that I needed to officially unload.
However, that weekend was the first time that I had asked God to cleanse my heart as I freely gave it to Him. During the second night, I was feeling really lonely. I found myself missing my old relationship terribly when I crept my ex’s Instagram only find out that he had someone new in his life. This was completely devastating to me. So devastating that I snuck away to my bedroom, climbed up the top bunk and just silently cried for what felt like an hour. I was praying so fervently that God would release these feelings and that I would be able to fully move on from the relationship.
Praying Empty Prayers Stunts Our Growth
But when I realized I didn’t feel any better after praying, I asked my friend if she was willing to talk. Looking back now, I realize how selfish this was to pull her away from other conversations over fun card games, but I was desperate. I remember showing her the picture on my phone and how I felt completely wrecked by stumbling across his page.
The thing is, she listened long and hard before responding. She let me vent my emotion and frustration and silently nodded her head back and forth in the agreement. And then she said something that I will never forget. After she made sure I was finished, she looked me square in the eye and said, “Quit digging up an old, dead body. There is no longer any life in this relationship and it’s time that you bury it once and for all.” Stunned, I just remember staring at her and all I could mutter was, “Thank you. I think I’m going to head to bed now” and trailed off.
As I crawled into bed for the second time that night, my stomach churned. I felt nauseous and literally tossed and turned for most of the night. I said my last prayer that night and finally fell asleep just a few hours before my alarm went off. But then something happened.
That next morning I felt so light and joyful. There was a pep in my step. My mood was cheery and hopeful and I genuinely felt as if a weight had been lifted. I remember hopping out of bed on a mission to find my friend to extend my gratitude for helping me release the baggage that I had been so desperately trying to let go of.
I had been praying for six months for God to release the relationship and rid me of my feelings of my ex-boyfriend. However, the entire time I was still holding on to the relationship the entire time.
And then it hit me.
Prayer only works if you do.
See, I don’t share that story to brag about my prayer life but to extend a message of hope. When we shift our mindset into a prayer mindset, we are able to freely let go of what has been holding us back for so long. Like I mentioned previously, when we don’t place action behind our prayers, they only become wishful thinking. Sure, God can answer prayers. But I think God works better when we give Him a little more room and freedom to do what He does best.
So my question for you is this…
What have you been praying to God to release from your life that you haven’t fully given up?