Prayer: Friendship

“The following post is written by my friend Karsten—an unashamed man of God whose perspectives on faith and praxis have radically challenged and shaped my own. I pray you are blessed by his words. :)”
—David Andrew

Prayer. Such an overused word. We have “prayer meetings” and “prayer groups” and “prayer chains,” we say “I’ll pray for you” to our suffering Christian friends (then we usually don’t remember to). So what is this thing we all say we do, and why do we even bother doing it?

Conversation. I want to redefine for you what prayer is. For starters, it’s not talking. It’s communication. Let me tell you about my trip to In-N-Out.

I had been planning on doing it for awhile, and today I decided to make it happen. I was hungry, and I really wanted IN-N-OUT. I had been practicing conversation with God- talking to Him in my head, listening for responses; I was still convinced that most of what I was hearing was just my own thoughts. Nonetheless, I said to Jesus “Hey Jesus, want to go to In-n-Out with me? I’m buying.” Jesus said He was down. Sweet.

About three months earlier I had gotten fed up with my relationship with God. I was tired of people telling me it was about “relationship” not “religion,” when everything about prayer and worship and church and “quiet time” felt so freaking religious! God of relationship huh? Alright, well prove it! I remember thinking “how do I get to know my friends? Well, I go for walks with them, have conversations with them, go out and get food with them… You know what? That’s what I’ll do! Alright God, I’m going to treat you like you are actually real, like you’re someone I can actually get to know. I’m going to go for a walk with you. I’m going to pretend you’re right next to me (because you are anyway) and I’m going to talk out loud as if I’m talking to you. Then, whatever I hear in my head as a response, I’m going to just go with it as if it’s you. And God, it better be you, because if it isn’t than I’ll probably drive myself crazy by listening to the voices in my head.” About a week after this I went on that first walk. I still think most of what I heard was just me, but I know some of it was Him. Now it was time to take that conversation to the next level.

I walked up to the counter and ordered two burgers: One double double animal style and one cheeseburger (I figured Jesus could handle the smaller burger). I sat down at a two person table, and set the other burger across from me at the table, then I began a conversation. Most of that conversation was something to the tune of “Jesus I feel like a retard right now.”

Jesus would say (in my head, where no one else could hear him) “I know. It’s ok. I like that you’re spending time with me.”

“Thanks Jesus.” Then I noticed an older couple sitting at the other end of the restaurant. They were both probably in their sixties and wore those awkward grandma sweaters with the random animals on them that you hope to receive yourself. As I looked at them I heard God say “prodigal son”. By this point, I knew I was in trouble. God doesn’t usually tell you something like that because he wants you to sit there and do nothing. No, I was going to have to go over there and share what God was saying with these total strangers. I was fearless, and 100% confident that I would walk over there, share what God was speaking, and revival would break out that very moment in In-n-Out! Ok, maybe I was actually terrified of being wrong and trying to talk God out of making me go over there.

I couldn’t talk Him out of it. God brought back to me a quote from a pastor named Shawn Bolz- “If you want to grow in your relationship with God, take the biggest risk possible at your level of faith.” I knew there was no getting out of it if I didn’t want to feel like crap for ignoring God the rest of the night, so I finally decided to get up and go over there. At this point I had “heard” all sorts of stuff from God about this situation. He was a lost son, he was into drugs, he was doing meth, his name was Jeff.

I walked up to them, and a million miles an hour I said “hi, sorry-to-bother-you-but-I-was-wondering-if-I-could-ask-you-something-and-if-I’m-wrong-I’ll-totally-go-away.” Sweater lady, a bit surprised and unsure, said “ok”.

“Do you have a son that you’re not on good terms with?”

The lady’s eyes got big as dollars. Shocked, she said “No…”

No. She said no. If I thought I talked fast before….

I’mreallysorryI’llleaveyoualonenowhaveanicenight” and bam! I was out of there. I Rushed back to my seat, totally embarrassed.

“God, why did you let me do that!? I feel like such an idiot, and now those people are probably staring at me and my extra cheeseburger thinking I’m crazy. Why did you let that happen? I feel like such an idiot…” As I vented, it was as if heaven opened and God’s face began to shine down upon my whole being. I could feel His delight over me like warm sunlight. I knew in that moment how proud my Father really was of me. it was the most profound experience of how proud God is for me that I’ve ever had. To this day I know that it changed my life, and I am so glad I got it wrong that evening.

I was so embarrassed, that I left a few minutes after. I decided to take the cheeseburger, still not sure what I’d do with it since I was on my way to the prayer room and couldn’t let it sit in the car for 3 hours. As I drove, I felt God saying “turn right,” so although my confidence in my ability to hear Him was a bit low at that moment, I figured what the heck. A few traffic lights passed, and I felt Him say “turn left,” so I did. This wasn’t my normal route to church, and I wasn’t sure why He was taking me this way, but I went with it. I felt a “turn right” but it wasn’t quite yet. It was like God was going “closer…closer….NOW!” I turned into the Best Buy parking lot in the nice suburban part of town, and right as I did a homeless man on a bicycle rounded the same corner! I yelled out my window “Hey! Jesus told me to buy an extra cheeseburger and here you are! Do you want it?” He said “sure,” rode over, took the cheeseburger and left. The verse “why you have done to the least of these you have done to me” went through my head, and I heard Jesus clearly say “See! I told you I’d eat my cheeseburger!”

See, prayer was never about getting it right. It was never about getting forgiven, or getting your needs met, or asking for other people’s needs to get met. Prayer is when God lets you feel how proud He is of you at In-n-out. It’s when you and Jesus go give someone a cheeseburger. It’s singing your favorite worship song and knowing God’s Presence is there with you. Prayer is a journey. Prayer is a friendship. When the religious fetters fall off, your prayer life will soar.

Not only is Karsten Kaz a really cool guy—he also just started blogging! Check it out yo! —>Karsten’s Blog

Prayer: Abiding

“In continuing this series on prayer, I wanted to focus on abiding in God’s presence. Writing on this subject, my friend Maria Viola offers her intimate, insightful perspective from her experience of God in the quite place.”
—David Andrew

The Quiet Place

We can learn to abide in God’s presence wherever we go, in any situation, in whatever we are doing. There is a starting point: being in the prayer closet. I cannot stress enough the importance of finding a hiding place, a quiet place to spend just with Jesus without any distractions. “But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” Matthew 6:6 (NASB).

I want to abide in the presence of a person I love, know, and trust. I believe we could all say the same, so what does that look like? There’s no formula, but Matthew 6:6 gives us a wonderful model. First, find a place where you can pray: I have made a prayer room underneath my dorm room bed where I have strung up lights, have a couple pillows, a blanket hanging from my bed to hide me underneath, and my journal and Bible. Second, close your door: this will be one of the best ways to eliminate distraction and put your focus on Him. Close that door so you can pray and sing out loud, you can intercede where the Spirit leads, and wait in the presence that will fill your place of prayer. The Father, who is in that secret place with you, hears your requests and sees your need. Read these lyrics to Misty Edwards song Silence:

“Silence calls like the rain to a parched land
I drink You in again.
No longer thirsting for what could never satisfy
I’m thirsty, I’m thirsty for You.

In silence, You call.
In quiet, You hide.
In secret, You wait for a lovesick bride.

Jesus, I am here.
Jesus, I am Yours, and You are mine.
Jesus, I have come to steal Your heart again.

Silence calls like the waves ever crashing on my shore.
This broken heart hears a Voice calling me
to quiet places where You hide,
waiting for a lovesick bride to come and steal Your heart
with one glance of my heart, with one glance of my heart.

All I ever wanted is You
All I ever needed is You
In silence, in quiet~
Silence comes like the rain, like the rain.”

Go to the quiet place, to that secret place so that the God who makes all things new can commune with you and impart to you knowledge, wisdom, and His wonderful presence. Never give up on the quiet place where you meet with Him because He will always be there, whether you feel Him or not, because His promises are true and if He says that He is in the secret and He sees you in the secret then this is a true statement. “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.” 2 Timothy 2:13 (NASB).
If you are not sure what to pray, then start with the prayer that Jesus taught right after telling us to go to the quiet place:

“Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”
Matthew 6:9-13 (NASB)

This is a good place to start. I pray that each of you would lose yourselves in His wonderful presence.

With love,

Prayer: The Experience

To kick off this series on prayer, I want to focus on the experience of prayer. To express this sentiment, I have asked my dear friend Rachel Jackson to pen a creative piece on her experience of prayer. So without further ado:


Oh, I know this place so well;
The place we come to meet.
Oh, I know the way He looks at me
When I dance before Him, free.

Oh I know the path so well;
The path we walk upon.
Oh, I know it won’t be very long
Till He sings to me His song.

Oh I know His song so well;
The voice that kissed my heart.
Oh, I know the work of art
That hooks me from the start.

Yes, I know this place so well.
The place where Savior speaks.
Oh, I know the Words He says to me
When I stand as one redeemed.

Oh, I know this place so well;
The place where hands are laced.
Oh, how His hands touch my face
In this Romantic Race.

Rachel Elizabeth is one of the most genuine, passionate-for-God, and listening people I know. She blogs her own thoughts and experiences here.