Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into Heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are — yet He did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. — Hebrews 4:14-16
Over the years, I’ve seen the simplicity and friendship in my conversation with [Jesus] slip away and come back again, finding myself often vacillating wildly between two different responses to the access I have to God through prayer. Sometimes I’m walking boldly into the throne room of God with my words, and other times I find myself struggling to take His invitation to intimacy seriously. Oftentimes, I’ve let doubt, complacency, or even an assumption of my own spiritual maturity (and therefore, lack of neediness) keep me away from conversation with God.
A few years ago, God began to remind me of [one] night in Nashville, of how I’d seen Him as an uncomplicated, albeit holy and complex, Friend that I could talk to. I began to share this idea of unhindered interactions with Him while traveling to write and teach.
In Wild and Free, I wrote about my daughter, Glory, how she comes down the stairs in the morning already in conversation. Literally, as each foot finds its place on the wooden steps leading to our family room, her words are already coming and they’re directed at one person: her dad. She talks as she walks, she keeps talking as she curls up in his lap, and eventually when she does stop talking (usually after detailing her plans for the day and what she’d like to do), her eyes rest gently on his face, waiting for him to respond. It’s this picture that daily reminds me and compels me to the feet of Jesus. It’s this privilege that’s been purchased for me that keeps me coming back to Him. Just to talk. Just to tell Him what’s on my mind. Just to wait and see how He’ll respond.
What I’ve found as I’ve shared these thoughts is that the women of God respond to this message in varying ways. I’ve noticed that some women seem to find this concept of unfiltered communication with the Lord almost novel — it’s refreshing, and it equips them in ways they haven’t been before. So many women seem to say, “Oh man! I forgot about just talking to God. I’ve made it too complicated and forgotten that I have such open access to Him.”
But there’s also the other response. I’ve found that some women reject this message of simple communication with God as too elementary, like information they already know, and they’re ready to move on. Depending on what day you catch me, I can completely resonate with either camp. Some days I’m all, “PRAYER IS THE BEST. I JUST TALKED TO GOD IN THE CAR.” And other days I’m rolling my eyes at my husband when he suggests that I ask God about a question I have.
I can tell that a lot of us might vacillate between these two responses because I’ve watched the women of God respond, some letting their mouths drop gently open, remembering the days and years that have passed by wherein they haven’t taken advantage of the nearness to God that is theirs through Christ Jesus. And I’ve watched other women quietly and knowingly shut down, discounting this truth as too simple or elementary for their taste, ready to move on to more in-depth study.
I think one thing that could be keeping us from stepping into the freedom of talking to God as our holy birthright is our confusion regarding grace and holiness. Perhaps sometimes we’re not grasping the depth of depravity and separation sin causes, so we’re not realizing the incredible free gift we’ve been given through intimacy with God. Prayer seems commonplace, stuffy, maybe even contrived. Then maybe there are seasons where we get grace and feel the sort of freedom that has broken us from the chains of what time with God “should” look like. We’re not slaves to ninety-minute quiet times, and we may not be memorizing whole books of Scripture, because we understand grace and the fact that walking with God isn’t about how much we can produce or how much shinier we can get.
But in the quest to grab and spread grace, specifically as it pertains to how we commune with God, an important truth has been trodden over:
We don’t have to communicate with God because it makes us more holy; we get to communicate with God, and our ability to do so is a miraculous gift from Him. We don’t have to pray; we get to pray.
Yes, we are free from the false belief that the amount of time we spend with God equates to the growing level of our holiness. We’re daughters of God who currently stand on holy ground, not because of our merit or our works, but because of His work in our lives and the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. We’re not required to put in hours of spirit-work, repeating rote phrases and empty words, memorizing and decorating the outside of our souls with religious trophies of knowledge. We still get to talk to God.
We don’t get to talk to God because it’s good for us or because it’s the wise thing to do. We get to commune with God because it makes us feel better. We get to commune with God because it’s in Him and through Him that we find our home. We get to talk to our dad because He wants to talk to us, because He loved us first, and it’s a privilege and an honor and a huge gift for us.
And on the other side? Sometimes it might feel juvenile to us, like it’s something we should have already learned. We may wonder if we shouldn’t be throwing around bigger words and ideas, doing a little heavier lifting as women of God. We might feel like we should have graduated from simple prayers and moved into more complex “quiet times.” This is the God of the universe we’re talking about here! Doesn’t He demand more attention? More focus? Shouldn’t we hold Him in such high regard that we treat Him with reverence? It seems to us in those seasons that we shouldn’t be throwing around such casual words, and maybe we could use a little less talking about how we feel and a little more theological study.
Goodness gracious, I’ve been there. I’ve wanted to call women to deeper places with God, because I’ve longed to go there myself. I’ve longed for structure in my prayer time, concerned that if I don’t have a plan or a method of talking to the Lord, I’ll just ramble or make it all about me. I’ve thought that if it was as simple as just communicating with God, then everyone would do it, and we’d all be more spiritually mature — so surely walking in relationship with God can’t be that simple.
While we’re representing all groups, I’ve got one more on whose behalf I’d like to communicate. I’ve experienced this myself and heard from a number of women that sometimes simple communication with God doesn’t work for them for a variety of reasons. If you find yourself in this camp, maybe you’ve tried to explain to others that you don’t feel anything when you talk to God or that, conversely, you feel too much. Perhaps you’ve had a bad interaction with your father and it makes relating to God as a dad hard for you. Goodness gracious, that’s real. I hear that.
Maybe some of you feel too pragmatic and logical to talk out loud to an unseen something. Maybe you were made to pray often as a kid, and it seems too traditional or carries connotations of disingenuous religious patterns. Perhaps prayer was used as punishment in your life or it was forced on you in a way that left you believing it’s something we should do, not something we get to do.
Wherever you’re at, I want to sit with you for a second and just say, it’s real. It’s all real! Those feelings are real, and you’re allowed to feel them. But now, we’re going to speak truth to them so that we can move on and grow.
If you’ve believed (truthfully!) that grace covers you and you don’t have to pray, I want to say, amen! You don’t have to. But in Jesus’s name, you get to. Psalm 84:10 says that one day in the house of God is better than a thousand anywhere else. That’s some truth we can stand on, and the simplest way I can reiterate it is this: talking to God is better than talking to your sister, watching Netflix, drinking coffee, exercising, chocolate, sex, reading fiction, searching on Pinterest, or doing your makeup. It just is. Not because it’s good for you like going to the doctor is good for you. It’s good for you because your soul is hidden in Christ and most at home with the Spirit of God working on your behalf as you communicate with God your Father.
Prayer is better for you than all those things because our God is the author of peace, comfort, love, truth, beauty, joy, abundance, grace, mercy, and life. Talking to God, just being in communication with Him, is where heaven invades earth and we experience a little of eternity in the midst of our everyday. And the craziest part? Because we’re walking suits of the Spirit, image bearers of an unseen God moving and living here on earth, we can talk to God while we do all those things! However, I still think it’s beneficial for us to have moments set aside wherein He gets our undivided attention, because why wouldn’t we want the love of God, unfiltered and uninterrupted? If you could have one-on-one time with your best friend, you’d take that over a quick catch-up while you’re doing your makeup, right?
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Excerpted with permission from Dance, Stand, Run by Jess Connolly, copyright Jessica Ashleigh Connolly.
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Prayer is something we get to do! We don’t have to be worthy. We don’t have to get cleaned up first. We don’t have to behave right first. We don’t have to ask someone else to go to the Throneroom for us. We get to speak directly to our Creator! Come share your thoughts with us on our blog about the privilege of prayer. We want to hear from you!