from the Reading Tree
Part I: A Lesson on PRAYER
We have a reading tree in our
front yard. It is a big, towering oak that gives shade in
the summer and acorns in the fall.
We love to sit under it and
read books. The twins first started forming letters into
words under that tree. They first discovered the joy of
listening to chapter books like Heidi, Stuart
Little, and The Chronicles of Narnia.
We are always a little sad
when the weather gets too cold to sit under our reading
tree and we have to move our books and adventures indoors.
This year, as fall turned into
winter, I noticed that not all the leaves had left the tree.
There were dead leaves, but stubborn ones, holding on to
the branches and refusing to let go. Through ice storms
and snow storms aplenty this winter, the leaves are still
Each morning as I have my quiet
time, I sit at the table, next to the window that frames
our reading tree. I have been watching these stubborn leaves
through these many storms of winter. God has been speaking
quietly to my heart. There are some things in my life that
I have stubbornly been hanging onto. It's time to let go.
Some years ago, I prayed and
prayed for a certain thing. I wanted it to happen my way,
in my time! I must admit, I still do!
When I first started praying
for this, I thought, Why wouldn't God want this? This
is a Godly request.
But it has turned out disastrously.
And it's STILL a disaster. As year turns into year, it just
seems to be getting worse! I have no solution for what's
happening. It's not at all what I prayed for.
Though I hate to admit it,
I began listening to the enemy as he subtly whispered, You
wasted all that time praying about this…and it did no good…
And since that time, my prayer
life has just not been the same…until this season, when
the reading tree began clutching stubbornly to the dead
leaves of past seasons…and God began speaking to me about
the bitterness and sadness, and indeed apathy toward praying,
that has followed me through these recent years.
One way He has spoken to me
has been through Emerson.
"Mom, what can I pray
about? Do you have something I can pray about?"
"Mom, can I ask if I can
pray with that lady? She looks like she's really hurting."
"Will you pray with me,
Mom? I'm feeling sad…"
God has placed the passion
of prayer upon 7-year-old Emerson. There have been times
in the night when I have walked into the girls' room and
found her in bed, eyes looking toward heaven, hands clasped
together, praying out loud. One night she was praying for
me. She didn't know I was there. I stood there, listening,
until her "Amen" drifted into sleep.
"I used to think prayer
was boring, you know? I used to think it was just talking
to God when I can't hear Him talking back…but I was wrong!
I LOVE to pray, Mom! It's SO FUN talking to God!"
"Mom, can I tell you something?
I was reading the prayers out of this kids' book, and something
happened to me! I just started crying because these prayers
made me so happy! Mom, isn't praying SO GREAT?!"
"Mom, don't you just LOVE
Through her passion, her excitement,
her OBSESSION with prayer, God has reminded me where I need
to be. It was me who first taught her to pray. It is her
who is helping to bring me back.
So once again, I am on a journey
of prayer. Emerson and the Reading Tree have inspired me!
Ken bought me a new Bible some time ago, and I have now
adopted it as my new prayer Bible. I have begun in Genesis
1, reading every word on every page. I have found inspiration
for prayer and am writing prayers on every page.
As I look up verses on prayer
and study about prayer, I have found there to be at least
two types of prayer so far: "praying without ceasing"
and "closet prayer." Both, I believe, are necessary.
Do you pray throughout the
day? God tells us to, you know. It's prayer "without
Rejoice always, pray
give thanks in all circumstances; for this is Gods will
for you in Christ Jesus.
I Thessalonians 5:16-18
Talking to God throughout the
day honors Him. Do you ever just tell Him what's going on?
Do you ask Him questions? Do you think about someone randomly
throughout the day and pray for them? Sometimes I talk to
God out loud, so the kids can hear me. Sometimes I whisper
to Him, so no one else can hear. I talk to Him while folding
socks, doing dishes, and working in the garden.
That's prayer without ceasing.
Praying continually. Having the attitude of prayer. It keeps
my mind on things above. It keeps my heart turned toward
Him. Is He listening? You bet He is. He has time for me,
even with all He has created.
He has time for you, too, every
moment of every day.
What about "closet prayer"?
I see this as a different kind of prayer -- but a crucial
one! Jesus Himself said,
But when you pray,
go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father,
who is unseen
Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret,
will reward you.
Do you have a special time
set aside when you pray? This year, with the beginning of
2014, the kids and I have begun new prayer journals. We
are writing down requests and praises and choosing a time
throughout the day to pray faithfully.
We pray alone, where no one
else is looking. We pray honestly and thoroughly, to a God
who listens faithfully.
This is "closet prayer".
No more dead leaves, stubbornly
hanging on to past disappointments! When I pray to God,
diligently, and it just doesn't happen the way I prayed…I
will trust Him! I will NOT stop praying or become discouraged.
This is one lesson from the
Reading Tree on 7101 Stafford Court in St. Louis, Missouri.
More lessons to come.
Since, then, you have
been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above,
where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.
Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
© 2014. Faith Matters by Lygia Lovelace. All rights