I shuffled into our church’s sanctuary right behind my husband, hoping to find a seat towards the back. A late night followed by an early morning wake up call and a fussy toddler made me so tired by day’s end that I just wanted to hide behind the heads of all the people in front of me. It’s easy to do when you’re average height like me.
But my hopes were dashed when he pulled me toward the front left to a place he described as the best spot for taking pictures without anyone noticing. He’d somehow become the church’s unofficial iPhone photographer.
Despite my exhaustion and disappointment, I was still excited to hear the guest speaker. He was the brother of good friends, and one many would say had the gift of preaching and teaching in a way that wouldn’t leave you the same.
From the moment I found out he would be visiting our little church that particular Sunday evening, I just knew it was a sermon I didn’t want to miss.
Every Sunday since June, I’ve made it a point to take notes in the forest green Moleskin notebook my husband gave me for my birthday. It’s my place to sort through thoughts on paper and take note of the things I learn. However, in my lack of sleep I left it in my diaper bag, which was with my daughter in nursery. And my backup, my phone, was dead.
Sitting in the front, and in full view of the speaker, I figured it would be rude to get up. So I didn’t.
My mind wandered as we made our way through the beginning of the worship service. I found myself thinking about dinner and what I had to do over the next week. I lost focus.
So I prayed. I prayed that I would stay awake. And more fervently, I prayed that I would be inspired, that I would learn from his message, and that it would speak to my life.
And boy did it! I was wiping tears along with half of the congregation as we weeped our way through the closing hymn.
Prayer always ushers in the positive inspiration for a Jesus follower like me.
That’s because we believe God hears our prayers.
“And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.” (1 John 5:14-15)
And we believe the Holy Spirit intercedes on our behalf even when we don’t know what to pray.
“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” (Romans 8:26)
It’s also because we know, sometimes, we need a little direction.
It’s so easy to go through life preoccupied with our daily routines and their fill of deadlines, to-do lists, and obligations. We nag our spouses, we scold our kids, or we complain about our jobs to the point where we don’t even notice the beauty of God’s creations or His many blessings. I struggle with that constantly.
When that happens, prayer lets us humble ourselves and admit that. It’s like turning on the GPS when we get a little off track, or stopping to ask for directions when get off on the wrong exit. We may not be familiar with the turns along the way, but we trust they will take us to the right destination.
I often utter a silent prayer that my heart be opened so I can be receptive to the things that can make me better. I do it as I read, watch TV, or visit with friends. And I think that’s a great starting point–no matter what situation you’re in.
After all, through one open heart, God can transform many things–even sinners like us.
(Another sermon on Acts 16:11-15 taught me that one. But I have those notes in my Moleskin notebook.)
This is Day 6 of the series, 31 Days of Inspired Living. Join me through the month of October as I write about what I think it looks like to find the inspiration that makes us better. I’ll also offer some encouragement for your journey. In case you missed a day, you can find previous posts in the series here.