The first Saturday of the month I try to take my kids to the Home Depot children’s workshops. They love using the hammers, nails, screwdrivers, and screws while building the project of the month. I’m pretty sure their favorite part of the project is the painting though!
This month, I told the kids they couldn’t paint… mean mom, I know. (We had places to be afterwards, and I didn’t want to have to mess with paint covered kids.)
Anyways. There’s only one of me and now five children who are trying to follow directions, build, and properly complete the project. My older kids have gotten pretty good at reading the directions and working on their own.
However, as I was helping #4 hammer some nails into her project, one of the kids comes to me with frustrated tears. “My nail is bent.” I helped “said-child” pull the nail out and get another.
Seconds later another child has a similar complaint, “My nail won’t go in straight.” Once again, I pulled the nail out and gave the child a new nail.
“Guys, your nails are not the problem. The way you are hitting them with the hammer is the problem. You have to hit it straight on. If you hit it sideways, the nail will go sideways.”
I watched each kid hit the nail, made some slight adjustments, and then sent them back to complete their task.
However, I realize I have bent some “nails” in my daily walk with Christ. Specifically, with my prayers.
I so quickly throw up my arms and wonder why God isn’t hearing me when I pray.
I want things my way. Why don’t I see results?
Well, the truth is that there is no problem with God; there’s a problem with my prayers.
Prayer is a gift from God. A way of communication with Him.
When I pray me focused prayers, I miss the mark. When I start treating God like a fast food restaurant demanding things “my way,” I will always be disappointed.
See, everything around me is HIS work. He has graciously invited me to be part of it. Instead of expecting God to do things my way, I need to recognize His ways. I need to submit to His will, His plan, always.
A bent nail I come in contact with often is when my praying is more of a “wish list.” Even my “wish-list” for others. It’s good to present our request to God, but prayer has the power to be so much more! Prayer is not meant to be solely an intercessory thing. It’s communication with God. It’s glorifying Him. It’s acknowledging how Great He is!
Ok- Here’s another bent nail that I don’t like to admit. Sometimes when people ask me to pray for them, I don’t. I used to keep a list of prayer request. Then in my alone time, I would present these requests to God. This is a really good thing to do. It helps remind you of who you agreed to pray for. However, I am a mom of many small children. Many times, the people I said I would pray for never made it to my list. I needed to make some sort of change.
At the same time, I was playing a game called “Clash of Clans.” I have been part of an awesome Christian clan for a few years now. One of the members recognized she did the same thing and said she was going to stop saying, “I’ll pray for you,” and start praying for them. So now, when people ask for prayer. I stop what I am doing and lift that person up in prayer. If I am scrolling through social media and I see a prayer request, I stop scrolling and specifically lift that request up to God.
Prayer is a powerful tool that Jesus gave us by taking our place on the cross. And it works…when done with the proper heart and posture.
But so many times I feel like we all miss the mark. Prayer should not be just about us, but all about Him! Our prayers should praise God, thank God, ask for forgiveness, pray for provision, pray for intercessory, peace, understanding, and ask for God to show you where He is already at work so that you can join Him.
When we simply pray prayers centered around us, we are hitting the nail… but slightly to the right or left. Something’s not quite right. If we keep hitting the nail like that, it will bend or break the wood.
I’m sorry to say that people stop praying when they don’t feel like their prayers are being heard. So instead of setting yourself up for a broken nail, pray that the Holy Spirit will guide you and show you how to realign your prayers to be within His will.
“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people,” Ephesians 1:18 (NIV)