What if I Don’t Feel Like It?

YOUR will, Father, not mine. Those are hard words to come by sometimes.

Adapted from Pray Confidently and Consistently: Finally Let Go of the Things Holding You Back from Your Most Important Conversation by Valerie Woerner.

Obedience is hard to talk about, but it plays a crucial part in both how we pray and how we view prayer. For example, when you pray, do you already have a loose outline of a plan and you’re just hoping for clarity on the details and God’s official stamp of approval? Are you praying with one eye closed, terrified of what God might tell you to do? Or do you pray ready to obey whatever God says next?

Our emotions want to convince us that they should decide how we respond. If we’re afraid of what God might tell us, we feel the tug to listen to the fear instead of overriding it and obeying God.

Committing to follow God’s direction rather than our own emotions is not an optional part of prayer that we add every now and then. To lead with our hearts, as the world tells us to do, is a road of destruction if our hearts aren’t beating in sync with the one who created them.

We can’t treat God like the best friend who gives advice that we have no plan to listen to. We can’t treat God like this is our story and God’s merely a prop to round out the cast of players. Our prayer lives can’t flourish under such conditions.

I want a life that flows from rich prayers. It’s easy to see prayers as just talking to the ceiling. We do our duty, and that’s it. But our communion with the Lord has the power to direct us where to go if we’re ready to obey what we hear. If every fear or selfish desire steers us in the opposite direction, though, we’re missing out. We let shaky things like our own emotions determine what we will say yes to instead of deciding beforehand that we will obey the Lord before he ever lays out a full plan.

To the world, obedience can feel stifling because, obviously, we have our own plans and, obviously, doing someone else’s is no fun. Truly, though, I don’t think I’m telling you anything new when I say that the things we think are full of freedom, such as having our own way, don’t bring actual freedom. It’s in obedience that we experience God’s plan for us.

YOUR will, Father, not mine. Those are hard words to come by sometimes.

We so often isolate the hard things that require obedience without looking at the alternative. When we’re choosing whether to obey God, the alternative isn’t pretty—it involves hightailing it in a direction God didn’t plan for us. The phrase “the safest place for me to be is in the center of God’s plan” is one of those trite sayings that strikes a tender nerve for me. I like safety, and sometimes I have to be reminded where the real danger lies— not in the unknown of God’s plan but in the seemingly “known” outside of God’s plan.

So how do we not let emotions hold us back when we pray and receive direction? We take the first step. We don’t stall, because fear provides ample time for the world’s logic to convince us we heard wrong.

My own journal is full of decisions I’ve made but still held loosely just in case I heard God wrong. I pray for an unsettled spirit within me if I’m going in the wrong direction, but I think it’s important to move, even with caution. The more we sit back and wait for greater and greater signs, the more convinced we become that we can’t move without them. I remember a friend in college saying he wasn’t going to propose to a girl until God told him to by writing it in the sky. That was the day my crush on him ended because I have an idea of how many times that’s happened in the history of the world, and I want to say it’s zero to none. I got the sentiment. He wanted to be sure. But I think so many times, the fear of not knowing for sure paralyzes us. If you’ve been in the research-and-development phase for far too long, maybe the culprit is fear of obeying rather than a God who’s not being clear enough.

If you’re waiting for your whole path to be lit up with runway lights, you’ll be waiting longer than my old crush from college waited to find the right woman. We know God doesn’t light the entire path. We get just the next step.

The journey is intended to be walked with our guide. When we don’t prioritize prayer and an intimate relationship with the Lord, it’s like we’re telling God we can go this road on our own with just a few instructions from him. What gives us such confidence? We don’t have the map. We don’t know the roads. We need God. That’s always been true, but we forget it often.

If you’ve let emotions take control and have strayed from the Lord or disobeyed, let this be a moment of coming back to God and recommitting your heart to obedience.

We spend a lot of time looking for clarity and seeking wisdom, but God has already promised to give wisdom generously (see James 1:5). The question is, what will we do with it? Can we stop overanalyzing the job God is doing as he gives us the next step and instead pay close attention to how we’re responding to it?

Our obedience is a place of restoration and returning to God. It’s a place of glorifying God as we come to our senses and remember his sovereignty. It’s a place where our prayers thrive as we continually ask God for guidance and follow-through.

Obedience isn’t just some add-on to prayer. It’s vital. And if we want to cut through the distance we feel from God, we must decide before we say “Amen” that we won’t let emotions dictate our response but that God’s will will be done in our lives.

When we throw off the weight of emotions and respond to God in obedience, we not only strengthen our ability to hear where God leads in the future but also experience his best-laid plans for our lives, which he so graciously communicates to us through prayer.

Pray Confidently and Consistently by Valerie Woerner

A vibrant, unstuck prayer life can begin for you right now.

Why is it so difficult to pray without getting distracted?
Why don’t I have this figured out by now?

Pray Confidently and Consistently is for all of us who ask these questions and yearn for more. Join author and prayer journal creator Valerie Woerner in learning to pray boldly to the God of the universe who is beckoning us to come sit with him, share our hearts and needs, and simply know him.

Living in close communication with our Father has the power to transform even the most difficult moments of our lives. What weights do we need to throw off so they don’t hold us back from a deeper connection with God? What distractions are keeping us from running freely with him?

When we release the burdens suffocating our prayer lives and leaving us gasping for Jesus, we can finally experience the truth that prayer changes everything.

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