Epiphany

THERE WAS a time in my life when I never prayed. That period lasted about 20 years. I did not pray a single prayer for 2 decades — at least none that I can remember. And the longer I went without prayer, the harder my life became.

I often felt lonely, sad, and frustrated. So I did all kinds of things to hide my emptiness. My life was out of control and chaotic. Sometimes I look back and still feel shame for my behavior during those lost years.

When I was a child, I often prayed the ‘Our Father’ — especially during thunderstorms. I prayed it over and over again since I was terrified of thunder and lightning. “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name….” again and again until the storm calmed down — or until I fell asleep.

That prayer gave me great comfort. I knew God was with me. But then I grew up. I gained experience and confidence. I learned how to manipulate my life perspective (that is, lie to myself) and cover up my vulnerability. I thought I could navigate the storm without God.

Eventually, things began to crash down around me. I found myself dumbfounded at my own behavior. What in the world was I doing? What was I thinking? And suddenly, I was in the middle of a raging storm. My physical, emotional, and spiritual life were all at risk. I could have easily ended up dead due to my own foolishness and pride.

Then one day, unexpectedly, God showed up. And he reminded me of something hugely important. It was something so simple but incredibly profound.

He told me, “You are not alone”.

No, I didn’t hear any voices or see angels flying around. But the message could not have been more clear. It spoke directly to my soul. It was the most powerful revelation in my life. And it sticks with me to this day.

Shortly thereafter, I prayed my first prayer as a grown man — on my knees, tears soaking the floor, hands opened up to heaven, asking for forgiveness. And from that moment, life was breathed back into my life.

Since then, not a day goes by for me without prayer. It’s not always extensive or deep, but it’s always there — just like the Lord. And I am never, ever alone.

Prayer is tough. It’s hard work. Many don’t take advantage of it since it is difficult sometimes. It’s kind of like exercise. We know it’s good for us, but we don’t want to put in the effort. Why is prayer so hard? Because it has tremendous value.

A huge list of observable benefits comes with prayer. Even Harvard professors know about this. But the world — even the religious world — doesn’t promote prayer as much as it should. We want to keep God out of it and get through the storm on our own. But it’s so lonely that way.

Is there anyone on this earth that you can talk to about absolutely everything? The only one is God. How great is that? The Creator of the universe is there for you at all times. Your biggest fears, deep shame, wicked thoughts, and overwhelming joy — God listens to it all. And he helps you figure it out.

He tenderly shows you where you’ve gone wrong — and what you’re doing right. He helps you see complex problems with fresh eyes. And above all, he reveals his everlasting love to you.

When prayer becomes a chore, it’s boring, pointless, useless. But when prayer becomes a conversation, it’s transforming. It’s nourishing. Prayer becomes a song of life. But we put it off. Or we hurry through it. We want to get our prayer time “out of the way”. Or we quickly mumble a familiar prayer and think that’s enough. 

When the Wise Men decided to follow the star to Bethlehem, the journey certainly wasn’t easy. But something was revealed to them, and they knew they had to go see for themselves.

The appearance of a brilliant star indicated to them that the King of kings was born. And when the Wise Men followed the star to its final destination, they were filled with great joy. They fell down and worshiped the King. And they offered the newborn baby gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 

When I finally decided to seek the star, the holy light, the King was also revealed to me. It was undeniable. The journey to him was not easy for me. I roamed in the wilderness for a long, long time.

But he led me to him. And when I found him, he told me I was never alone. And I fell down to worship him. And I offered him my gifts as well — my repentance and my tears. And I was filled with great joy. 

So put in the effort. But don’t do it for any particular end goal. Don’t hurry. Make the time. Immerse yourself in the process, in his presence. Let your journey to and with God give you strength and energy. Let your encounter with the Lord be enough.

Make those moments — in adoration of Christ and Creator — be the source of your joy. Then rise up and share that joy generously with the world around you.

And always remember — you are never, ever alone.  

. . . . . . .

Rise up in splendor! Your light has come, the glory of the Lord shines upon you. See, darkness covers the earth, and thick clouds cover the peoples; But upon you the LORD shines, and over you appears his glory.

Isaiah 60:1-2

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2 Replies to “Epiphany”

  1. This encouraged me. Thank you.
    I struggle with my prayer life and I have come to accept that prayer will be a struggle. I struggle to believe that God even hears me, I struggle feeling as if I am just rattling off a laundry list of needs and nothing is changing and things are still hard, I struggle to know if I am doing it right and saying the right thing or if my heart is in the right place …. Because if it was, would that change the result of my prayer request.
    I struggle with myself getting in the way of prayer. Meaning, instead of releasing the prayer requests to God I expect that He will answer them in the way I want Him to. I struggle to trust that His character is good despite the result of my prayer request. That is what I mean when I “get in the way” . My agenda gets in the way.

    Have mercy on me God. You made me and your created me just the way I am. You know my strengths and my struggles and yet you still call me your Beloved. My heart needs to hear that today. Please help me to trust your character regardless of the result of my prayer request and please help me to trust you with the needs of my people and myself , knowing you are always with me. -amen

    Like

    1. Love your comment Melinda — so authentic and real… and I believe that’s the secret to prayer “success”. I totally get where you are. Don’t ever think your efforts go to waste. And remember, prayer has seasons. You might be in a winter now, but you are planting the seeds. Later comes the harvest of good fruit. Yes, prayer makes a difference in our daily lives and situations, but the biggest change is inside us… that’s where we find the Kingdom. God bless you!

      Like

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