I know how busy you are this time of the year, but I am praying that what we share with you today will speak to your heart. A pastors’ wife, Christy, shares her transparency about her prayer journals and I know many of us can relate to her.
I was going through some old prayer journals over the summer. I have several stacks of them stuffed under my dresser. As I picked the first one up and started turning the pages and skimming through it, I read cries and pleas of a desperate woman seeking peace from turmoil and pain. There were some other prayer requests written here and there, but the theme for the most part was my inner pain. I hurt for this woman, I ached for me. I picked up another one and started reading it and I could hardly believe it, but it was full of the same thing. Another one, same thing. Year after year they all read pretty much the same. And the saddest thing to me was that I was still that desperate woman seeking the peace of God. Stuck in pain. Stuck in hopelessness.
My current prayer journals were almost identical to the ones from 5 years ago. How could this be? My heart sank as I was sitting there on the floor. What is going on, Lord? Why have my prayers not been answered? What is wrong with me? My sadness had soon progressed to anger. I gathered up those old journals and headed towards the trash can. Those journals had my heart in them. They revealed my soul and my most secret thoughts, desires and fears, but they also disgusted me. I wasn’t about to turn back now. Into the trash they went. I felt better in the moment, almost like- well, I’m done with that. I tossed, in the trash, something that revealed the truth about me; that I was stuck; I was not moving forward; I was not living a victorious life and I was not trusting God. I hated where I was in life and it seemed there was no way out, nowhere to run and nowhere to hide. And what was my response? Toss it.
All this happened while I was getting ready to speak at a ladies meeting. I had prepared a nice little devotion and all I had to do was smile and read it nicely. You know, a sweet pastor wife moment of blessings. (I have a history of not necessarily talking too much, but definitely saying too much or becoming too transparent and letting it all hang out).
So, I’m at this ladies meeting and I start with my little devotion. It started out great, but then something in that devotion triggered my prayer journal moment and (chase a rabbit) I began to share with all the ladies how I had been disgusted with myself and tossed my prayer journals in the trash. Uh, yeah. Some gasped, some giggled a little, a few shook their heads. How did I ever come to share my most personal moments? I don’t know. I know, if I don’t stick with the script, there’s no telling what will come out. Well, I wrapped it up and sat down. No big deal I thought. They need to know I am not perfect. Whatever. It’s done. Judge me if you want.
Well, the next pastor’s wife went up to the podium and began speaking. Here’s how she started out. I am here to share with you how you can have an effective, productive prayer life by using a prayer journal. What? Oh boy, really? Can I crawl under a table somewhere? I guess it’s too late for that. She showed us her prayer journal with tabs and everything. She had a section for daily prayer requests, another for her family, one for church, one for the sick and another for the lost. She showed us how efficient and organized her prayer life was by holding her neat little journal up for all to see.
She read a few pages of requests and there was even space left to write how God had answered her prayers. How special. Then she passed out prayer journals for each one of us, (tabs included). Oh boy. What a good kick in the gut. The girl who just admitted to personal disgust and trashing her prayer journals is now slapped in the face with someone who appeared to have it all together. She sure looked like she had it all together. Me? Not so much. I mean I’m really kind of a mess. My prayer journals are too. They’re not neat. There are no tabs. There are no sections for this and that. There are smudges from tears. There’s raw feelings and emotions in there. I sure couldn’t read inserts from my prayer journals. They might kick me out of the church, you know?
Although I trashed a few of my journals, I still journal my prayers. They start out, Father God and somewhere in there I’m admitting how much I need Him, how much I desire Him, how I want to please Him with my life and how I’m a failure who needs the grace of God every single day. Yes, I may get stuck. Yes, I may be a mess. Yes, I may disappoint and yes, I am far from perfect, but I know this, I am a work in progress. God is not done with me. I also know, I will never reach perfection here on earth and I will never be completely satisfied with me. But, I am learning that while I’m here in my imperfect state, in an imperfect world, I can be satisfied with my perfect Father God. He is sufficient in all of it. He is a good Father and He is absolutely answering my prayers, in ways I never imagined. I need to not worry so much about me and my flaws. What I need to do is keep my eyes on God and praise Him in every storm, every victory, every valley, mountain and every pit. I believe He will raise me up in His time and way and I’m so glad that He knows me and loves me in spite of ME!
I appreciate Christy’s transparency in sharing with us today and I know we have all been right where she was in her vulnerability.
But I have to be honest, I was a little disappointed that the wife that followed Christy in speaking didn’t admit there were times she struggled as well, instead of making it look like everything was perfect in her life and prayer journal. We know there are many times in ministry we choose to put on the mask and try to make everyone think everything is going perfectly when in reality it is not and it’s okay to be vulnerable and honest.
I encourage you to take a look at your life and your prayer journal and if you were asked to share publicly, what would you share?
I pray you have a wonderful Christmas with your family and some down time!