Recently, I sat down with my dear friend Jill Briscoe to talk about prayer. Jill, her husband Stewart, and her son Pete head up an incredible ministry called Telling the Truth that helps people know Christ and experience Life in all its fullness.
While we're still at the beginning of this season's discussion of emotions, I wanted to hear from Jill on how she steadies her mind and heart as she has walked through all different kinds of things in life, and how prayer has impacted that.
WHAT IS PRAYER?
"Well, I think upfront we have to get over the idea that prayer is the way we can twist God's arm to get what we want. Most people think of prayer only as petition, but I was taught by the person that led me to Jesus that prayer is the speaking part of our relationship with God. But it can't happen without him talking to us. It's communication."
Just as we wouldn't give our own children everything they ask for and we set up guidelines for how we discuss things, communication with God works the same way.
DEVELOPING YOUR PRAYER LIFE
"First, we have to listen. It's the listening part through reading his word. Listening in church with a pencil in your hand as soon as the pastor starts to teach. You learn to listen first before you start to talk, and that will transform your prayer life."
GOD ANSWERING PRAYERS
"I've seen him say yes. I've seen him say no, and I've seen him say, wait."
The number one tip Jill shared for hearing God's answers to your prayers is to be in His word and obeying His calls. Are you praying more than you're reading your Bible? When opening God's word, Jill says to look out for three things: A promise to claim, a command to obey, and a warning to heed.
"Warning tells me don't and the command tells me do-so you do the dos and you don't do the don'ts."
THE POWER OF PRAYER OVER EMOTIONS
Because Jill has lived a life filled with prayer, we talked a bit about how prayer has helped when facing overwhelming emotions. She shared about an experience while doing street ministry when she had found herself in a fearful situation and turned to prayer for courage.
"I prayed for courage and I said, 'God, if you expect me to go in on my own, then give me courage, amen.' And the courage didn't come. And then I had this conversation of what is courage? I had prayed for feelings, and the feelings didn't change."
There are people and missionaries all over the world that are living in places and situations that can be very scary. Sometimes God calls us to do the work scared.
Jill has been an example of pursuing God so faithfully that emotions and distractions seem to fall away. I wanted to hear her advice for those of us who may get stuck in anxiety or worry or have trouble taking that next step.
"Let me tell you this, every day for you is written in His book before one of them comes to pass. Psalm 139:16-18 - write it in your Bible. It means God has a plan for you every day of your life."
Along with looking to God and His word for help, Jill shares my heart for the local church. When you need extra support, find a leader in your church and ask for help. There are people and organizations out there who will help you bear those burdens when they're too heavy on your own.
"Otherwise if it's normal...the help you need is from God. How well do you read your Bible? Do you know what you're doing? Are you only looking in it for you?" Jill went on to encourage us, "there are times you'll have to yield to living through a difficult time, but not without the power of God to do it."