Cycle of Prayers

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I'm not sure how you deal with life when God's timing is not going fast enough for you, but I thought for comparison's sake, I'd show a road map of my routine.  It's like driving in the country with speckled shadows on the road.  Sunlight stretches across the pavement, dances between the leaves and warms my face while I'm driving. 

This is God.  My prayers are the shadows and no matter how dark or inconsistent, there is sunlight still in them. I can believe that there are sun soaked roads ahead of me.  My life and faith is flawed but just like the shadows on the road, there is hope for brighter miles ahead.  God is with me.  I feel Him there.  I thank Him for his companionship.

I begin to pray when it's getting dark and the road gets curvy, because I've usually waited too long to reach out to Him.  I pray earnestly believing that I can say the words, pray the prayer and that He will answer them swiftly.  As long as it take me to drive home, His answer will be clear.  It is my first stop on the Prayer Road Map.

 *Come Before You Prayer*

Dear God, I humbly and gratefully come before You.  I have a need that I cannot handle without You.  Lord give us our daily bread....Your life and word is sufficient for us but with prayer and petition, I ask you to do **this thing**....I thank you for all of the glorious blessings in our life - BUT we need/want - this problem solved by your will and your timing. Amen.  Unfortunately, I don't give Him much time so I speed around the curve into the next prayer.

*Impatience Prayer*

Dear God if You would just DO this *one thing* then all shall be well. I know you're busy with other people's prayers which are probably more critical than mine so I'll pray for others and try not to think of my issue right now. (There's a touch of martyr in this one, but I'm revealing my truth to show how humanly honest we can be.)

*Glorify Him Prayer* this is where there are bits of sun splashed on the road.  Everything seems hopeful.  The problem has promise of resolution so I say -  Sorry about my impatience prayer earlier God...Let me say unto you that my God is an awesome God.  I praise You. I am believing for the best and I know that You work out things for the good. I sing and dance for you.  You are the the Lord of the Dance.

*Fill me with the Holy Spirit Prayer*

I don't know how to fix this problem.  I don't know everything but the Holy Spirit understand it all.  Fill me with the Holy Spirit to help me understand everything that is happening in my life.  Give me patience.

*Show me what to do Prayer*

God helps those who help themselves.  He is waiting on me to DO something.  Anything! Shake a tree, beat a bush, make a phone call, send an email.  Just take a step and He will make mountains move.  But I call on Him! If He would just light my path and guide my steps Our problem solving would go much faster!  Then this is when I initiate bargaining with God.  That is as embarrassing to type as it is in real life, but again - I'm trying to be as authentic as possible and connect with my readers on a deeper level.  Yes, I bargain with God.  It never works, but I say it or think it in the back of my mind where I cannot hide from Him anyway.  It usually goes something like this - If You will do this one thing - then I will do this other thing." Shameful, I realize but every time I bargain - it becomes clear to me that God doesn't enter into deals.  My impertinence in offering a business contract as if we were in boardroom negotiations is humiliating, but candid.

*My God is an awesome God* (reprise Glorify Him)

I didn't praise Him *enough* and I didn't believe *enough* in Him to solve the problem.  My attempt to control the situation instead of relying on the truth that He's Got This. I failed in my Faith. In this prayer phase, I consider releasing the problem to Him.  I also ask Him to send the Holy Spirit back to me because I didn't get the first message or the necessary "filling up" that I needed.  Disbelief now moves in and seeps into my soul.  I think my prayer will not have the answer I want.  At the end of this cycle, I remind myself that God answers prayers but when we don't get the answer we want, we think the prayer hasn't been answered.

*Doubting & Mercy Prayer*

This prayer stage sounds pitiful and it is.  I pray and whimper that maybe God doesn't want this *thing, event, issue* to come to pass and that I need to let it go because this *thing, event, issue* is not going to happen.  Initially, I am overcome with sadness because the God Genie didn't make my wish come true.  (No disrespect intended on the God Genie reference but honestly, how often do we treat Him like a wizard?). Then, just like a frustrated toddler, I become unreasonable because He must not think that the problem *IS* a problem.  After I've thrashed about, then I manage to pull myself together and plead with Him to take away the wanting of that *thing, event, issue*.  The longing is the hardest part for me.  I pray for mercy so that I am able to let go of the request.  The forced reminder that it is God's will, not my own.

*I Give Up Prayer*

I'm turning it over to You.  Release the problem to Him. (Really this time.)  Forgive my humanness and I'm sorry that I lost my way and that I rushed Your goodness.  I know that You know what is best for me and for my family and nothing in this world surprises You.  Dear Lord, You know what is ahead of me and there are things I cannot possibly know or understand right now so I am laying it down at Your feet.

*The Nothing Stage*

I do absolutely nothing and try the "Be Still and Know that I am God" route.  I live in this for about twenty minutes.  Then somehow I break schedule and skip back to the "Show me what to do prayer."  I decide this is poor form and stop.  This hopscotch behavior shows that I am still hide-and-seeking control.  If I am supposed to be in my *Be Still* place, then I cannot be in the "Show Me What To Do" stage.  The nothing stage is to force me to slow down or stop altogether.  If I jump then I'll mess up His plan and He'll need to recreate a different opportunity.  If I run, then I might miss the turn He had for me.

Then the circle of my prayers begins again.  I drive the same road, around the same mountain over and over again.

But the part of prayer that I never forfeit is GRATITUDE.  I say thank you.  I express it. I pray it. I write about it.  Thank You is sometimes all I have left, but gratitude is the most important piece of my prayer.  Remaining grateful in all things doesn't mean being grateful only during the good times.  In the midst of some really dark storms, I thank God for being in the storm with me.  He never leaves me.  When my heart physically hurts...that feeling like there is electricity running through my chest.  I physically feel the shock of the pain that dulls into a fierce ache then feels like it's going to splinter into a million, tiny shards.  But, I thank Him for giving me the promise that He heals the broken hearted.  I thank God.  His timing is perfect and exactly on time...every single time.

Even when I grow impatient or I don't get the answer I wanted, please Lord God know that I thank You for answering all prayers according to Your will.  Thank you for all of your many blessings and for being the answer to all our prayers.  Apart from You, we can do nothing.  Thank you for being our Good Father and the best provider.  We have to keep driving and moving forward.  We need to read God's word, serve others the best way we know how and be aware of His presence on the most ordinary days.  Because that's when the extraordinary happens.  Extraordinary is born from the ordinary married in Faith and believing for better roads and days.

It'll be alright in the end.

He Promised.

Just follow the sunlight and in the darkness, know that He is there.