I think there is a thin, yet dangerous line between believing faith and faith in faith.
I know I am to pray, believing. But I think for a lot of my life, I have interpreted that to mean that I should make a request, then believe I will receive it. Period. So, logically, if I don't receive said request, it may very well be because I did not believe.
Which leads into a lot of frustration with self, and a lot of trying to work up some sort of faith that never doubts.
But what does that have to do with God?
Seems like the faith is in my own faith, and not in His willingness to give good gifts to His children. Because if I really believe that, what He said in the scriptures, then my faith shifts from myself and my ability to work something up within myself, to Him. The Giver of all good things.
And lately, it is this shifting that is taking place, as my year of prayer progresses.
The little watch I have that beeps on the hour reminds me to pray. I have prayer books that are lovely and wonderful and that help me to focus. I have lists of people to pray for swirling all around my head. I have little pictures, plaques, reminders adorning my walls, that help bring the mind back to God.
But at the end of the day, sometimes at the beginning of each new hour, I have found I have been frustrated with myself for not being more in prayer.
What I have done is made prayer into another thing I must do, and my life becomes increasingly performance driven. I feel good about myself and my relationship with God when I have done what I feel is enough, and I feel inadequate, like a failure, when I don't feel I have reached my goal. I get so easily frustrated with myself.
As I pondered this yesterday, I realized there is a very good reason this makes me sad. This is not the way is was intended to be. Prayer, in its simplest sense, is talking to God. It is not a box to be checked off of the holiness to-do list. But I sometimes view it that way. Have you read your Bible today? Check. Have you spent enough time in prayer? Check.
I don't think God wants to be checked off a list like that, unintentional though it may be. How would it make me feel to know one of my friends viewed talking to me or reading my letters in this way?
I remember listening to a message Chuck Missler gave one time, and I have heard him say this many times over, and it always cuts straight to the heart, because it is true and I forget...
God doesn't want to be number one on your list of ten. He wants to be number one on your list of one.
I have twenty four hours every day and I know there is enough time to do all He wants me to do.
So can I stop striving and fall into His arms of grace and just be with Him? Just love Him and enjoy Him and talk to Him and be with Him?
This is where prayer is taking me. Further and further into grace. And underneath are the everlasting arms.