One thing I am completely sure of is that I need more of You in my life – I need Your love to deeply touch my heart more often and more intensely so that I can truly love You to the extent that all other things that have my heart seem like only a dim reflection of true goodness. I am so thankful for what You did but I need to feel Your nearness. Please bring your Holy Spirit upon me so that I can see how much You truly care for me and so that I can give You the praise You deserve.
Sometimes I want to just cry out in frustration because I don’t know why You don’t feel near and I don’t know why I have such a hard time reaching a point of Godly sorrow. What is it that is standing in the way? Maybe the point is to maintain faith even when You do not feel near. And during those times when You do not feel near, I should not turn to other things for clarity and contentment. I should surrender my thoughts to You and not follow every train of thought that crosses my mind.
Maybe I need to redefine my expectations. What do I expect to experience when You are near? Am I simply expecting happiness? I think each experience is different. Sometimes when You are near, the whole world melts away and it’s just You and me. Other times, I feel an intense love for You and other people. Can I simply call those things “happiness” though? No. Those experiences are unlike any happiness I have felt before. They are not simply experiences in which my flesh and mind are pacified by some fleeting contentment. They are experiences in which I have not felt inwardly focused but focused on You. I have not just enjoyed those experiences because I have momentarily escaped the drudgery of everyday life but because I feel connected and close to an undeniably powerful and loving Father.
High expectations are not a bad thing I guess, as long as my expectation isn’t to experience self-serving satisfaction. That must be why I feel like I am “failing” so much when I try to draw near to You. I am too focused on the wrong kind of satisfaction. So when I call out to You and I still feel confused and anxious, that doesn’t necessarily mean that You are shutting me out because of my lack of faith – perhaps You want me to appreciate your provision beyond an immediate fulfillment of needs or an immediate dose of “faith on-demand.” You want me to appreciate Your provision for eternity.
Maybe You are giving me faith as soon as I ask but I am not receiving it because I am too busy figuring out faith with my mind to notice that You are freely offering it to me. So perhaps expecting faith when I pray for it is not unrealistic. However, expecting peace and comfort every time I pray is like expecting a life full of blessings and no hardship. You are present even in the difficult experiences and even when my soul is not at peace. Therefore, I cannot attempt to precisely qualify what “experiencing Your presence” means.
I will be unable to speak of how You are working in my daily life if I do not acknowledge Your nearness through all of it – even the hard stuff. As of now, I feel like I don’t have much to share because I have not been very aware of Your presence in the midst of my struggles. Instead, I see my struggles as stemming from a failure to draw near to You because I somehow think that I would not be struggling if I only had enough faith to “pray right.”
Prayer is about You, not us, but we can still expect things from prayer, such as Your nearness – whatever form that may take. Your nearness is a sign that our prayers are being heard. The scarcity of struggle, on the other hand, is not the sign we should rely on to judge the effectiveness of our prayers.
Please help me see that my faith, though small, does make a difference and that even though my struggles persist, You are with me through it all. My expectation for this prayer is simply to become more aware of Your presence. I am not asking for You to make my life easy and painless. Instead, I am asking that You help me surrender and find joy in whatever Your will may be. I pray that I do not feel hopeless when my expectations for prayer are unfulfilled. My expectations are very misplaced.
I pray that I do not underestimate the power of the smallest amount of faith and that I become confident in approaching You when I think my faith is too small to make a difference. Prayer does make a difference – perhaps not the difference I expect – but it is effective in a way I cannot fully fathom. Thank you for hearing all my prayers, even the ones that were not answered in the ways I expected.