Several years ago (before my last, most devastating period of active mental illness) I was heavily invested in prayer. I interceded for missionaries, in particular, a family in Cambodia. I prayed for my family and their spiritual darkness....I prayed passionately for my church and our young pastor. I had supernatural experiences, which I am not going to describe right now. I frequently would stay up all night praying. I became known at church as a woman of prayer.
However in my subsequent breakdown...I lost my footing...and the door to heaven shut against my pleadings. I do not blame heaven or God for this. My mental instability simply made concentration, beyond a sentence or two, impossible. I think because of this fact, I felt isolated from God's love and provision (which I was NOT, obviously...it was just a trick my mind and the enemy was playing on me).
It has taken me years to somewhat regain my prayerful sensibilities...Now, daily, in response to my requests for help, I see God at work on my behalf. But I still really struggle against scattered thought and a shortened attention span. As I explained in a recent post, the use of Protestant (or Anglican) prayer beads has really helped me---they have organized my prayer time and they have kept my focus intact for more than its prior two minute span. (for a description of how they work and where to get them see my earlier post: Praying the Beads )
I checked with several pastor friends, and got the go-ahead for using them.
What I wanted to write about today is how faith combined with prayer, works to bring us peace of mind and heart. It started simply. I lose things. All. The. Time. And I began to go to God for divine assistance. After I searched everywhere I would cry out to God to help me. And wonder of wonders, He DID. The pleas were hardly finished in my mind, when God would open my mind and my eyes and I would find what I was looking for. NOW I do not waste my own effort at all. If I am missing something, the first place I go now is to the Lord. And from there, my confidence in God's involvement in my life has spread to bigger and better requests. Now, if I have a need, and it is something fearful and worrisome, I bring it immediately to the Lord for his hands to go to work on my behalf.
Do you understand what it is, when facing possible unemployment and having the burden of family's debt, and an unknown future, that I can close my eyes and LEAVE it....all the worry and fear...on the lap of my Lord, and to KNOW that he can, and will take care of it--in the best way possible. This has revolutionized my thinking. Any relational difficulty, and financial need, health issues, and the health of my family members---all of it--goes straight to the throne in heaven. And now, having secured that confidence I am beginning again to intercede for those around me.
I cannot explain to you how my mental breakdown was so completely destructive to my prayer life. But it was. I lost the ability to focus, my facility with words, and the rock of my confidence in God, was shaken. It has taken me 6 years to begin to once more be at home in prayer. I know I am still at the beginning of my journey to the place I want to be; but I know that the journey has begun and I am on my way. Meanwhile, God is answering prayer and alleviating the crushing weight of fear and worry on a daily basis.
I can assure you--as one who has seen innumerable and miraculous answers to prayer--that prayer is a real force and a real way we can affect our future and address our present fears. I would encourage you to take the first step and bow your heart to God and ask him, as the disciples did, "Lord, teach me how to pray!" and he will. And if you have trouble with focus, I heartily recommend to you the use of prayer beads (please read the article referenced above so you know how to use them properly and can find some reference books to help your journey.)
I must make a comment however, that PRAYER is only effective to those who have accepted Christ as the bridge over the chasm that separates mankind from God. There is only one bridge; only one path and if you skip this step you will find prayer difficult and the heavens to be unyielding. If you need more help in understanding this, please contact me or someone else who has applied to blood of the Lamb to their hearts and who are now walking in fellowship and power with the Spirit as their guide..