As a psychiatrist, I often see patients who struggle with fears, wounds, hurts, distortions, unresolved conflicts, and misinterpretations, which profoundly interfere with their ability to live the abundant life Christ’s death made available to us. They also miss out on achieving their God-given potential.
In the beginning of their work with me, the struggles are often very vague and difficult for them to specifically describe and put their finger on. This contributes to the overwhelming and confused feelings most people experience as a result of these struggles which seem unstructured and never-ending.
One discipline I find really helpful, actually essential for most at the start of their personal transformation process, is journaling. When I ask patients to journal about their area of struggle, a common response is, “I don’t know where to start,” or “I won’t have enough paper to write about the whole issue,” or “You’ll never have time to read all I write.”
Once they start writing about it, they are forced to be very concrete, practical, and methodical as they dig in to the elements of the issue. They are always amazed at the insights they get, how little paper they end up using, the logical progression of the issue, and how much simpler the issue really is. As a result of the process, journaling reveals some very deep truths and insights about ourselves and our hearts.
Prayer accomplishes the same results (and more) through the same process. As we really think about what to pray for and why, we are verbally journaling with God. God wants us to come to Him in prayer, and one reason is it makes us analyze our situations and ourselves in a meaningful and revealing way.
God’s Holy Bible tells us repeatedly to bring our petitions to Him through prayers with thanksgiving. Regardless of how He answers your prayers, each prayer transaction comes with this promise: His peace will guard your heart and mind and will keep Him close to you. How much more incentive do you need to pray more!
Today, pray more, and not just that rote, vague, superficial prayer you repeat out of habit. Do some real mental prep and inventory. Even get out a pen and paper and journal about what you pray for and why. Record God’s answers to your prayers. Watch it play out over time. You will learn so much about God, His wisdom, and what to really pray for. Your eyes will be opened to see your real heart and desires. Do they align with God’s? Why or why not?
Dear Father God, I come to You with an open, thankful heart. And when I bring my requests and petitions, You know exactly what I need and when I need it. Help me learn and believe that when you say “no” it’s because You’re planning something better for me, not because You are punishing or withholding. I pray today that I may increase my intimacy with You. Please help me remove all the aspects of my life that hinder my intimacy with You. Help me to better understand what is in my heart and learn to put You in the center. I pray this in the name the one who knew His heart exactly, Jesus Christ – and all God’s children say, AMEN!
Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.