“Prayer requires more of the heart than of the tongue.”
How many times have you thought “I have no idea what to say” in prayer? When situations wear us down or circumstances make us weary, it may be difficult to put our thoughts into words in prayer. Lucky for us, words aren’t necessary. God knows what’s in your heart, even if you can’t find language to express that. Simply be still, and know that He is God. (Psalm 46:10)
“Faith does not eliminate questions. But faith knows where to take them.”
Faith is not the absence of doubt, but a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8-9). God is big enough, powerful enough, and certain enough to withstand our questions and lead us to the answers. His gift of faith takes the pressure off us. Our role is to simply accept it, use it as a tool to navigate life—and know Who to turn to for answers when we inevitably have questions.
“Those who have never rebelled against God or at some point in their lives shaken their fists in the face of heaven, have never encountered God at all.”
A friend once asked me, “So when I yelled at God and said I was mad at Him, was that prayer?” Without hesitating, I answered, “Absolutely.” Think about it: if prayer is simply communication with God, then isn’t any kind of expression of feelings—whether loving or angry, gentle or harsh—a form of prayer? Authenticity touches the heart of God and reveals just how merciful and generous He is. Honestly, whether we admit anger or not, He already knows what we feel (1 Samuel 16:7). So talk to Him openly and freely.
“If we conceal our wounds out of fear and shame, our inner darkness can neither be illuminated nor become a light for others.”
I once heard someone say that having all our sins broadcast on the 5:00 news would be the best thing that could happen. Can you imagine the shame and horror of everyone knowing it all? Terrible, right? Until you realize how that would rob shame of its power over us. When our sins are exposed, they can be healed. Until we’re healed (and forgiven), we won’t be effective at shining God’s light into other peoples’ lives. You never know who might need to hear how God rescued you, so don’t be afraid to share your story. Nothing in your past is too dark to be overcome by God’s light. (1 John 1:5-7)
“No one has ever become poor by giving.”
You hear words like faith and love and peace mentioned in relation to God all the time. A word we use less—but which is no less important—is generosity. God gives abundantly, beyond what is required, and Jesus taught us to do the same. You can’t out-give God, and you can’t lose. Give cheerfully and not grudgingly, out of the overflow of gratitude in your heart for all that God has done for you. The gifts He gives us in return far surpass anything we had to offer in the first place (2 Corinthians 9:6-8, Luke 6:38), and, along the way, you’ll find that you have more than enough.
“Whatever you do, He will make good of it. But not the good He had prepared for you if you had obeyed him.”
We have free will. Even though God is present everywhere and nothing happens without His awareness, He doesn’t cause the bad things to happen. There are natural consequences and ramifications to our actions, and we often make poor decisions. What is amazing is the way God can take any situation—betrayal, grief, loss (of health, relationships, security), despair—and bring something good out of it in spite of us. But just imagine how much better life would be if we didn’t get in His way in the first place. (Romans 8:28)
“Prayer trumps panic every time.”
Worry about nothing; pray about everything. Sounds good in theory but it’s harder to hold on to this when panic sets in—when the disconnect notice is waiting on your door or the test results make your heart sink or the person you love turns their back on you. But panic gets us nowhere, and in fact, it keeps us from being able to see the truth of who God is. Jesus told us to ask, to seek, to trust, and to have faith. Panicking isn’t the most productive (or fun) way to live out those ideas. (Matthew 6:25-34, Philippians 4:6-7)
“Prayer is not monologue, but dialogue. God’s voice in response to mine is its most essential part.”
When I find myself babbling nonstop, it’s either because I’m extremely excited—or I really don’t want to hear what the other person has to say. Perhaps I’m afraid of their response, or too self-centered to care about their opinion. Think about the ramifications of that in a conversation with God. No good conversation is ever one-sided—but if there was ever a time that it would be, it would be when God is the one doing the talking. Many of us approach prayer as our chance to tell God what we think, but in humility, we should recognize that His words carry much greater weight than ours. I believe He wants to hear from us—but because He loves us, He also wants to teach us, guide us, and comfort us. In order to receive those things, we have to stop and listen. (John 10:27)
“The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians: who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, walk out the door, and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.”
Jesus said in John 17 that the world would know that His message is true when they see the unity of His followers. If I am a walking advertisement for God, do I want to be responsible for misrepresenting the God of the Universe? Not only that, but if I truly welcome Jesus into my life, the reality is that people will see Him in the way I live. If you don’t see Him in your life, or if you think others would not have a clue Who you belong to, take a step back. Ask God to become real to you, and be willing to let yourself be changed by Him. (1 John 3:16-18)
“All you need is love.”
In the end, love is all that matters. Jesus said the greatest commandment was to love God with all our hearts, mind and strength—but, second, we are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. The Bible says love covers a multitude of sins. It is the hallmark and very genesis of our faith, and our faith is a response to the enormous love God offered to us in the beginning. If all the other concepts overwhelm you, if you can just handle one at a time, focus on this one. The Author of love will be more than enough—all that you need. (1 Corinthians 13:13, 1 John 4:7)