Updated: Jul 12
by Sarah Reinertsen
I’ve been a Christian for 17 of my 19 years of life. When I think about the struggles I’ve
experienced in my faith throughout the years, my prayer life always comes to mind as a
central point. Prayer used to be a prime place of frustration and anxiety for me. Until
recently, I couldn’t even articulate why praying was such a stressful aspect of my walk.
I had a strong desire to talk to God, but then I wouldn’t want to open my mouth because all the things in my life I had to “catch Him up on” were weighing me down. Discussing all the events in my life with Him seemed too daunting of a task, so I’d neglect talking with Him at all.
Overall, my life just seemed too busy to constantly be involving Him in conversation. I’d
wake up in the morning, think about what I would tell God that day, go through my day
adding to the list, but by the time my head hit the pillow at night, I was always too tired
to give Him the summary, and I would then fall asleep ashamed. My prayers felt exactly
as if they were long letters I had to write, stamp, and send off to God whenever I had the
The worst part was that as the list of things to discuss piled up, I would grow more and more overwhelmed, which only lead to the time between my prayers quickly amounting to weeks, sometimes even months. As he loves to do, Satan would then taunt me with feelings of guilt and send me thoughts of, “I’m a horrible Christian for not talking to God”. I’d feel ashamed of what a horrible communicator I was. And then, of course, I wouldn’t even want to talk to God.
It seemed to be an endless battle and vicious cycle that I could never find a fix for. Other
Christians seemed to have their prayers lives together beautifully. I’d try and schedule my prayers, write myself reminders to pray, and constantly be making a list in my head of what I was going to say. Little did I realize, that God was not “out there” waiting for me
to “mail Him a prayer”. Rather, He was in me the whole time, listening to the very
thoughts I was compiling to later talk about with Him. Looking back, it’s actually quite
humorous as I would try and think up what to talk about with Him yet all while the Holy
Spirit was prompting me with the various things on my heart and literally bringing them
to mind through inward conversation. I just was blind to realizing it.
At the beginning of our Advanced Training classes last year in September, our
assignment was to draw our concept of God the Father. I did so as honestly as possible
and drew me sending a letter into the far off distance where God was waiting to receive
the news. I know it sounds a bit silly, but it was the most accurate way I could illustrate
my frustrations and sadness regarding my prayers. Sure I knew God was with me. But let me tell you, there can be a whole lot of distance in the statement, “God is with you.” And that distance seemed to be the only thing I could see. He seemed so far off, and I felt so incredibly burdened with always having to keep Him informed on any changes in my life.
As the frustrations grew, I turned to self-help books, listened to various podcasts, and
even looked into Scripture. Nothing helped…until the Holy Spirit finally revealed what
my real problem was. It wasn’t prayer that was my issue, it was the fact that I had a
messed up concept of God, my Father. I saw Him as distant, uniformed, and judgmental, yet somehow still loving and kind.
I was busy believing lies about His character, which blurred my perception of His interaction in my life. Within the recent months, the Holy Spirit has ever so sweetly been completely shattering my prior perceptions of Him, Jesus, and Father. Through this restructuring of my view of Him, my frustrations regarding prayers have vanished!
About a month ago, I was sitting at my desk writing a letter to one of my friends when
the Holy Spirit decided it was time to jolt me with a new revelation. It confirmed why I
had previously been so upset with my prayers. “He is not your pen pal“, was all I heard.
And that was enough.
I now see the reason I was so aggravated with the idea of catching God up on my life was because it’s completely unnatural for a Christian to do. Like trying to ride a bicycle backwards, “mailing letters” to God simply is abnormal for believers. I don’t have to catch God up on anything in my life because He is my life.
Nothing happens that He is not directly involved in. My thoughts are prayers to Him. My
words are prayers to Him. My heart’s desires are prayers to Him. He knows more about
what’s going on inside me than I even do!
I don’t know how else to explain my new concept of God other than by saying, “there’s
no distance”. “God with you”, is not the same as saying, “God in you”. He’s closer than I
could ever imagine. He’s inside me to the deepest part of me and oozes out to be all
around me. He knows me. Scriptures says that the Spirit Himself intercedes for me when
words fail me (Rom. 8:26-27). If He can articulate prayers for me better than I can for
myself proves He knows pretty darn well what’s going on in my day-to-day life!
I no longer need to feel burdened to always be checking in with Him. The Holy Spirit is
constantly in conversation with us, and since we are part of the Godhead, there is
absolutely no distance between God and us. Knowing this Truth brought not just peace,
but also freedom in my understanding of prayer and my constant connection with God.
God doesn’t want your “letters”. He wants you. He wants you to realize the intimate
connection the two of you share. He wants to speak to your spirit, the deepest, realist part of you. He wants to live in you and as you, not just hear about the life you’re living. He’s not your pen pal…He’s your life!