As I began 2019 I, like many, created THE LIST. Year after year I found myself writing down my goals and year after year I wasn’t getting any better at accomplishing them. YEAR AFTER YEAR! When I failed to do one goal in particular consistently, I felt guilty. I’m not talking about weight loss...that’s not the one. Although, we can just add that to the list as well. But what I am talking about is being committed to communicating with God daily. I don’t mean those quick moments when something goes wrong or a friend asks you to pray for them. I don’t even mean those moments of gratitude prayers when God is gracious and allows an AMAZING blessing to be received. I mean setting aside 25 to 60 minutes of my day to pray, worship, read, etc...EVERYDAY!
You see, I was raised in a christian home. My father was a preacher before he and my mother said “I Do.” So just go ahead with the assumption that I was taught about God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. I attended a private christian school for elementary and high school. We had Bible/Theology class as a requirement. I hardly missed a Sunday at church until I hit college. I mean one time, while I was in high school, there was a snow storm, long story short...we had service for an hour in our living room...what would be considered a small group by today's practices...but just our immediate family. WE WERE IN OUR LIVING ROOM Y'ALL! Believe me, at the time I felt like it was not that serious. Back to my point though. Was I dedicated to attending church? Most definitely! But I hardly practiced daily communication with God. When big decisions came up I prayed, I fasted, I read scriptures to get an answer and then on to the next. I didn’t actually commit to Jesus. I didn’t trust him with every aspect of my life. I don’t mean I have to pray to figure out if I should shower, cook for my family, pay my rent, etc. Let’s be practical. There’s a difference between human responsibility and guidance for relationships and decisions.
Author and poet Jackie Hill Perry once said, “For me personally, I know I don’t need to hear another sermon on prayer or to read another book on it for me to have a better prayer life. Because my problem isn't a lack of information, it’s pride. Pride makes me prayerless because it tells me that I’ll be just fine without it.” This quote hit me like a hammer to the heart. I have found that I try to work things out for myself and being real...that is based in pride. I think if it’s taking God too long to do what I think he should be doing quickly then I will just figure it out myself. I justify that perhaps God is looking for me to help him out a little. It’s crazy when I say it out loud, but my actions show that to be the truth. It’s like saying, “stand back God, I can handle this.” When what I really need to be saying is “Jesus guide my journey” because my pride and selfish desires end up hurting me more than helping me.
For a little over three years I ran a digital magazine, Nouveau Exposure Magazine. I was blessed to interview very interesting and successful people as well as publish issue after issue for three volumes. However, inside I was consumed with worry and stress. I always wondered if a million crazy things would happen to prevent me from growing the magazine or I would get so caught up in the people with their status and connections that I wasn’t actually praying for God to use the articles to encourage people, the original intent, but I was counting on the 300,000 plus followers they had to read the articles and follow the magazine. Sometimes the cover subject wouldn’t even share the article, so I was pushing sponsored advertising to get the article in front of more people for higher numbers instead of ministry purposes. I began to notice that the way I was running the magazine and the stress I was experiencing on a daily basis was because I was not seeking God FIRST and allowing him to add to my life and my business.
Maybe you’ve been praying for a new job for months or even years, actively applying for positions you are qualified or even over qualified to hold. But, you have not received one phone call to hire you even when you just knew that you nailed that interview. Maybe you’re at your wits end about your finances or a relationship with a family member because it seems like no matter how many great sermons you hear or inspiring podcasts you listen to, the steps you take to make it better only seem to cause the flames to burn your life into ash. That was just my life less than a year ago. When I didn’t think things were moving fast enough I would try in my own effort to “make things happen.” I would fast and pray for a week or two, read devotionals, watch sermons on YouTube and things seemed to get better. Only, after a while I wouldn’t pray, read scriptures or make time to communicate with God everyday. Then I found myself on a spiritual and emotional roller coaster. "Cycles" by Jonathan McReynolds could have been my theme song. I was taking my frustrations out on my family and closing myself off from friends. 2018 was NOT a good year.
I knew I had to finally surrender to Jesus and ask him to guide my journey. I learned to open up during prayer time about everything and I mean EVERYTHING. I challenge you to be honest with yourself and God about things that anger you, scare you, worry you, influence you and pray for understanding, peace and clarity. Journaling works for me but something else may work for you. It won’t be perfect. I’m not perfect. But I am doing so much better than I was when I was only looking for handouts from God instead of giving him daily communication. Trust me, if you make Jesus your guide instead of your genie your days will feel a little less lonely and more like he’s with you guiding the way.