America, It’s Time to Pray

I have a dear friend who has been given an incredible gift: her eyes find beauty in the mundane. Her passion is to uncover meaning in the everyday moments as she captures life through her lens. In my humble opinion, she is a modern-day Rembrandt of photography.

Sometimes she captures an image so extraordinary that it demands your attention—a picture worth a thousand words. In this case, I felt compelled to share those words with you.

At this moment in the history of our country, may this picture represent us all.

The Heart of a Child

So much about this world moves my heart to a place of unrest. And as the election process comes to an ugly end, I feel a burden like I’ve never felt before. Whether it’s the everyday stresses of raising four kids, running a business, or the latest social issue, there are times when overwhelm combines with exhaustion to create a perfect storm of weakness.

Photo courtesy of Rebecca McNeely

Photo courtesy of Rebecca McNeely

In a moment of such weakness, this image gave me strength. In the simplest terms, it represents the heart of a child.

The grown up in me, with all of its formality and social acceptance, forgets what it was like to be an eager, joyful child. But when I saw this picture, for a brief minute, the pressures of adult life faded as I remembered the sweet, surrendered, innocence of a praying child.

There’s so much of me that feels jaded towards prayer and wrestles with making time, getting it right, and wondering if it really works.

But oh how I long to be more like the little boy in this picture. I want a heart that is willing to stop the busyness, force my fingers together, and humbly approach my Father.

And never has there been a more desperate hour than right now.

It is time for the people of God to discover the child within—eager and joyful, resting in the care of the One who created them, ready to receive the Kingdom.

When Jesus said, “Let the children come to me,” I believe this is what He meant.

How Do You Pray?

Prayer seems like a passive approach to something that really demands action, but I believe that’s because the idea of prayer has become cliché. We practice it before meals, recite an incantation from a pew, or dish out a casual, “I’ll be praying for you” on social media. While these are well-intended efforts, they reveal a half-hearted attempt to convene with God while the other half tries to be God by the duty of our hands.

We might pray, but we rely on our own action and trust in our own understanding to get the job done—a choice that leaves us stressed and exhausted.

If you’ve ever felt this way, I would challenge a different perspective.

Do you believe that a true, surrendered prayer is the greatest action you could possibly take?

Why or why not?

If not, I’d challenge you to consider why prayer was such an essential part of Jesus’s life. It was how He began His days, it was what He did with His closest followers and friends, it was what He did the night before He died, and it was even what He did while He hung on the cross.

Even though Jesus was God, He was fully human as well. And I think that, as a man, Jesus was modeling the importance of prayer. In essence, prayer is learning to let go so that the One infinitely more powerful can take over. This is the great paradox of faith: when we learn to let go, then and only then do we find life.

You see, prayer is about surrender because our surrender is ultimately where God is glorified. In fact, our surrender to God is so offensive to the devil because it’s the one thing the devil wasn’t able to do.

As believers, we have to shift our mindset to see that prayer isn’t our obligation to God as a good Christian, it’s our opportunity to draw near to Him. Prayers aren’t words offered up into the ether, they are the cries of a childlike heart to the One who promises to respond.

And His Word tells us that the reward of our humility is the very strength, wisdom, and exaltation of God.

Understanding God’s Will

The will of God seems like an ominous, invisible elephant taking up room in our hearts. We wrestle with understanding and wonder if we really understand at all. But Paul reminds us that the will of God begins from this place of prayer.

“Be joyful always, pray continually, and give thanks in all things; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” —1 Thessalonians 5:16-17

God’s will for our lives begins from a joyful, prayer-filled, grateful heart. Curiously, that’s a lot like the heart of a child. It’s in that kind of heart where God will begin to speak because that kind of heart is not only willing to talk, it’s willing to listen. Even though we might come in kicking and screaming, when worst comes to worst, a kid clings to his father for dear life.

So if you find yourself exhausted, overwhelmed, tired, angry, sad, confused, upset, or hurt by the current state of affairs, I would challenge you to take a long look at the kid in this picture and believe with every ounce of your being that this kid is inside of you.

We desperately need a revival of the Christian church in America, but it will only begin with our humble prayers.

If you’re willing to peel back all of the grown-up and find the heart of a child, I think you’ll find God right there waiting for you.


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