Arrow Prayers: An Invitation to Go Deeper

Hello Ladies,

I’m looking forward to getting to know you and growing together. As we set our hearts toward mothering with joyful intentionality, my prayer is that God absolutely blows our minds with his provision and grace for the work he has for us.

If you’re anything like me, you’re hungry for a little biographical information. Whenever I meet someone for the first time, I always want to know who they are, their pertinent stats, and how I can relate to them.

So here’s the quick and dirty:  my passion is writing about God’s faithfulness in my life and the lives of those around me, I like polka dots, Tiffany blue, fresh flowers, really good novels (with a happy ending), HGTV, pizza, ice cream, champagne, thrift stores, spending time with my family, pedicures, my home state of California, and celebrating every occasion, big or small.

This is me at the fair last weekend, celebrating my inaugural deep friend Snickers bar.

This is me at the fair, celebrating my first deep friend Snickers bar.

My daughter recently turned one, and I can’t believe I have a chunky toddler cruising around the kitchen. All of a sudden she’s able to reach all sorts of dangerous kitchen utensils and I’m wishing we had invested in one of those giant baby playpens (jails).

The first year of her life has been profoundly transformational for me. Becoming a mother is stretching and challenging and more wondrously beautiful than I ever could have imagined.

I’ve cried buckets of tears, both sad and happy. I’ve watched myself become softer and more tender with my husband as a result of loving our daughter. Even my body tells a story now, my contours are not the same, and neither is my spirit.

The Lord has brought me into a spacious place, but our journey together has not been easy. I find myself on my knees, both literally and figuratively, more than ever before.

A few years ago, I remember reading the first few chapters of The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence and thinking, “Seriously? This guy prays all day? How could he possibly pray all day? No way.”

That was before I was a mother, and now I get it. I find myself in constant communion with the Lord because there is no other way.

I am painfully cognizant of all the things outside my control: my daughter’s health, her safety, her growth, and even someday, her salvation. She will have to choose Jesus as her Savior. I can’t make her.

While I’m shooting up more arrow prayers to heaven than ever (Please, Lord! Help her nap! Please don’t let her get sick! Please give us an extra seat on the airplane!), I have also found my prayer life becoming richer and more fulfilling.

My husband's Christmas present: a bow and arrow. Need I remind you that we live in the middle of Washington, DC? Apparently, bows are still required.

My husband’s Christmas present: a bow and arrow. Yes, we live in a city. Don’t get me started.

Lately, I’ve been trying to look at my hurried arrow prayers a bit differently. I still send up quite a few hail marys, but instead of constantly praying for my circumstances to change, I’ve been asking the Lord to help me grow (scary, right?!).

If I had a dollar for every time I prayed, “Please Lord, make her sleep longer,” I’d be a millionaire by now. Instead, I’m trying to ask the Lord for patience, fortitude, and to teach me how to be selfless.

It’s much easier to pray for your baby to sleep until 7 AM than to ask the Lord to make you a cheerful 5:30 AM morning person. Nothing confronts you with your own selfishness like having a child.

When you’re two grown-ups in a household with no kids, ample time, sleep, and money, you can totally mask your selfishness. But nothing lets the cat out of the bag like sleep deprivation, no time for yourself, and a burgeoning list of expenses. You can’t fake it anymore; you can’t manage around the character flaws that suddenly appear in stark relief.

Confronted by my own selfishness, I’ve realized I want to trust God in my prayers and stop treating him like a gumball machine. I’ve heard his gentle whisper, “Do you just want your circumstances to change, Natalie? Or do you want to grow?”

Of course I want to grow, but I want it to happen magically. Kind of like studying by osmosis where you sleep on top of your textbook in the hopes that answers will miraculously absorb into your mind the night before a test. (Sadly, this doesn’t work.)

I don’t like the hard work of being an adult; it’s much easier to ask the Lord to make the hard stuff disappear. But the hard stuff makes us grow, developing our character, making us strong, faithful, and resilient.

I want my character to be a worthy match for the inevitable storms of life. But I need the power of the Holy Spirit to make these changes in my prayer life, because otherwise, we all know I’ll just be praying for more sleep.

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