A number of years ago, our family started giving a Gift to Jesus at Christmas. For me, it’s like a New Year’s resolution. We’ve dropped the ball the last couple of years, but I’ve still thought about something I’d like to work on throught the year to bring me closer to my Savior.
Just like I’ve dropped the ball in writing our goals down, I’ve also dropped the ball on accomplishing my own goal – increasing the frequency and efficacy of my prayers.
For a long time, I felt very close to my Heavenly Father. I turned to Him often and with fervency.
Then, when my step-dad Lloyd passed away, I got knocked for a loop. I prayed and prayed when he got his leukemia diagnosis. I felt certain he would be healed. His life would be different, but he would still be around to be a very important part of our lives. He was such a critical and stabilizing pillar for me and my kids. We needed him.
Two weeks later, he was gone.
My faith and trust in my Heavenly Father was shaken and it was really hard to turn to Him.
I could talk about the mundane and offer pretty generic prayers, but truly trusting the deep feelings of my soul to Him was beyond me.
When I think about it, it seems so silly that I felt/feel that way. He has trusted me with so much. He has given me warnings and strengthened me before traumatic times that I wasn’t aware were coming, but after the fact, I’ve recognized that I was prompted to do something that would help me through a trial.
I’ve turned to Him and trusted in Him when I knew there was no one else I could possibly turn to, and He loved me and supported me in a way no one else possibly could.
And yet, here I am, over three years after Lloyd’s death, still having a hard time trusting Him with my heart.
What is comes down to is me.
How do I make the time to pray in the way I feel is most effective and personal? Where can I find time in my day to kneel and truly offer what is in my heart?
The time is the hardest part. A friend shared once that she prays in the shower, which I can truly see the merits of, since it is about the only time during the day when I can ponder and have complete, coherent thoughts. So, I use that time to meditate, if you will, and figure out what is happening in my day. Plus, it’s one of the only times in my day I don’t have someone needing my attention, or if they do, they know they have to wait.
I already set my alarm for 15 minutes before the morning has to start to read my scriptures, which I do off my phone in the dark, so as to not awaken anyone who may have come into my room in the night. By the time I push my alarm once, or twice, depending on how the night went, I’m rushing to get in my chapter of reading. By then someone is up and wanting to chat or snuggle, and I’m rousing everyone else to get going.
Last year I put a sticky-note on my bathroom mirror so I would remember after the kids were off and I had showered, which worked until I got used to the sticky-note and didn’t notice it anymore.
I have all kinds of excuses about nightly prayers, too. That’s when Brandon and I find a few minutes to talk and watch a show together, I’m tired and fall asleep while praying, someone needs another hug or a drink of water and I’ve reached the end of my rope and then don’t feel like praying because I’m trying my hardest not to lose it.
My list could go on.
I also feel like I need to come to the Throne of God appropriately dressed. I find it hard to talk to Diety in my underwear, even if it is Mormon underwear. And I’m so excited to get to climb into my bed that I don’t think about kneeling before I’ve stripped down to those fancy skivies and snuggled into a blanket.
So then I end up kind of bowing my head and hunching under my covers to pray.
The Lord deserves more from me. He has given me everything. I can at least get dressed.
This article from the October 2014 General Conference really stuck with me. The title, most particularly.
Whenever the adversary cannot persuade imperfect yet striving Saints such as you to abandon your belief in a personal and loving God, he employs a vicious campaign to put as much distance as possible between you and God. The adversary knows that faith in Christ—the kind of faith that produces a steady stream of tender mercies and even mighty miracles—goes hand in hand with a personal confidence that you are striving to choose the right….
As long as you allow these voices to chisel away at your soul, you can’t approach the throne of God with real confidence. Whatever you do, whatever you pray for, whatever hopes for a miracle you may have, there will always be just enough self-doubt chipping away at your faith—not only your faith in God but also your confidence in yourself.
Self-doubt is really what it comes down to. I have been doubting my own faith. Sure I’ve prayed and gotten answers to things, but my faith is lacking.
Take responsibility for your own spiritual well-being….Spiritual confidence increases when you take responsibility for your own spiritual well-being by applying the Atonement of Jesus Christ daily.
This comes down to time again. Time to read the scriptures, time to read the Ensign, time to plan my Primary lesson, time to prepare and have Family Home Evening, time to read scriptures as a family and with my spouse, time to have personal, couple, and family prayer.
But is it worth the time? Is feeling like I can come before the Lord with confidence and faith in what I’m asking worth scheduling these critical tasks into my schedule?
Obviously, the answer is yes. I have really disliked feeling a distance (that I’m responsible for) between me and my Heavenly Confidant.
Accept trials, setbacks, and “surprises” as part of your mortal experience. Remember that you are here to be proved and tested, “to see if [you] will do all things whatsoever the Lord [your] God shall command [you]” (Abraham 3:25)—and may I just add, “under all circumstances.”
I think because I had felt so close to and trusted by my Father, and in turn had truly trusted in Him and felt so confident my prayers would be answered as they had so often before, I was truly shocked. I felt betrayed and shut myself down.
This year, my relationship with Him will improve. He loves me. I know that, and I’ve been treating Him pretty badly.
Time to let the Lord back in.