Have you ever felt stuck in prayer? You know the Lord is inviting you closer but you don't know what is next? A little over a year ago I could feel this massive invitation from the Lord but I didn't know where we were going. I challenged myself with a very strict lenten penance hoping I could shed all earthly distraction and figure out what on earth God was doing in my life. I went to the adoration chapel a few times a week and I prayed a daily rosary during my morning workout/run. No matter how hard I strived I could not create a breakthrough during prayer.
You see, at this time I felt like I was thriving in all other areas of my life. I had just started a teaching position in a district that I loved and I felt like I could conquer the world one student at a time. Yes, it was hard living 3 hours away from my family but I was living in an adorable apartment (right above a Dairy Queen!!) with one of my best friends! I was also training for a half marathon and (regardless of the shameful amount of ice cream I consumed) I felt like I was the most physically in shape I had ever been. These were all areas in my life that I could navigate on my own. These were all areas in my life that I was able to control and make decisions to better myself as a person. I had a firm grip on my life, I was extremely self-reliant, and I felt like I was living my best life!
My prayer/faith life was the one area that I was unable to control on my own. I had developed a routine prayer time everyday and really felt the voice of the Lord speaking and moving in my heart. However, I was unsure of where these movements were taking me. I read books and devotionals but I was stuck and it took almost a year to figure it out! You can just about imagine my frustration!
Fast forward a few months to the middle of the COVID quarantine. I decided to move in with one of my sisters. She had an extra bedroom waiting just for me and we quarantined together! The first few weeks I felt extremely betrayed by the Lord...It took a lot of creativity to teach music online and I did feel validated in my career choice. The half marathon race I had spent the last 9 weeks training for was cancelled and it was hard to find the motivation to workout. The churches were closed and we were watching Mass online. I was stuck because I allowed all of these negative feelings to block me from being honest with God during prayer.
One night that I explained my feelings of anger and sadness, confusion and betrayal to my Spiritual Director. I told her that I had been feeling stuck in prayer for the longest time and I did not know what to do next. She said to me, “Have you ever asked the Lord what he wants? Try asking him, ``how are you calling me deeper?”
DUHH! I did everything that I could think of on my own to deepen my relationship with the Lord. Why not bluntly ask what He wants of me? I strive to make things happen. I love living in control of my life. It felt empowering when I could control the lessons in my classroom. I loved that I could control the number of miles I was running by pacing myself and monitoring my breathing. I loved that it was my choice when I could go to daily mass or sit in the adoration chapel...I was in control!
But that is not what God was calling of me. He was inviting me to deepen my relationship with Him by allowing Him to guide all aspects of my life. I was finally honest with God during prayer when I told Him every single emotion that I felt. I declared that I knew he was working in my life but I was unsure of what he wanted me to focus on next. I flat out asked him how he was calling me deeper into relationship with him. It took surrendering my self-reliance and giving Him control to finally experience a breakthrough in prayer.
God did not make COVID happen but He did Will it as a way to teach me to trust more fully in his guiding way. It took a global pandemic to fully surrender all areas of my life to Him. Striving and self-reliance do not lead to break through, they escort us to defeat and frustration. I had to learn that it is okay to be blunt and honest in prayer. If you want to know what God is doing in your life you should flat out ask, its okay!
Is there an area in your life where you know the Lord is calling you to step a little closer to Him? Where do you need to trust in him a little more? Where do you need to give Him control and give up your self-reliance? I know it is not easy, but I promise you it will bring peace!
Until next time~Your sister in Christ,