"When I am alone, I like to see, Your face in my mind…" (How Can You Love Me)
I wrote that song in 1991 in Brooklyn, NY, as I fought through a lot of doubts about who I was to God, and if I could ever be worthy of receiving all of His promises. I had a pretty bad case of low self-esteem then. That song spoke exactly what my heart knew was true, and writing it helped to heal it in some way.
Picturing God in my mind, though my imagination will never truly do Him justice, is still an important part of my prayer life. I need to see that He is eager to hear me, that He is pleased to see me coming before Him, and that He is full of light and power and truth and justice, that He is a warrior and a loving Father all in one. Launching into prayers without making myself aware that I am speaking to a very real Person, usually makes my prayers dry and perfunctory, like any other duty that has to be performed. When I realize I'm praying in that old religious way as I used to, I have to stop and refocus. I have to remember that I am speaking to the One who is all around me, who made me, and who listens to every thought that runs through my mind.
For those of us who grew up in traditional churches, reading written prayers out of a book, the word prayer can feel like the opposite of what it's supposed to be - a dull, ceremonious, mumbling sort of practice surrounded by lots of sour-faced adults in a cold church. If I hadn't begun this habit of visualizing God as He is described in the Bible before I prayed, I'm sure I would never have developed the spiritual ears to hear Him answer me.
Prayer is so powerful, that it shouldn't even be just called "prayer." It's such a deep and profound communication, a give and take, with the Creator of all things. I talk to Him, I share with Him, I cling to Him and He washes over me with a wave of assurance, and answers.
I always hear Him spur me on to anger against evil that is happening around me, He challenges me to fight for the freedom of someone who is in bondage. And at the same time, there's a comfort, an embrace, and with it a new way of thinking, an inspiration to view a problem or situation with new eyes. This is all done with words on my part, and virtually no words on His. Though He speaks to me when I read the Bible, it's often deeper and more personal than the actual words that are written on the pages.
And then come the answers. The surprises that happen because I've been talking to my Father and connecting to His Spirit, appear in transformations of people who's lives I've been fighting for and changes in tough situations that seem too big to budge. And funny enough, other blessings happen that I didn't even ask for, just because I've been seeking Him first!
Every night for this 40 Day Fast, my husband and I have been driving around the perimeter of our town, praying constantly for all of our church members, for our town, attacking the demons and principalities that are destroying lives. It's an unbroken, unstructured prayer between he and I, and sometimes with the kids as well, that lasts for over an hour every night. Sometimes we leave church so late after a meeting that by the time our drive-around prayer is over and we pull into our driveway, it's already past 1am. But we love it. We see answers, we feel closer to God and to each other, and more than that, we know that we are pleasing God and we can see that He is smiling down on us.