Let me introduce you to my friend, Bonnie. Bonnie Gray is author of Finding Spiritual Whitespace, garnering starred review praise from Publisher’s Weekly, as one of the Top 6 notable new religion authors. Bonnie is contributor at Crosswalk.com and DaySpring (in)courage. A UCLA graduate, Bonnie has been ministry entrepreneur and high-tech professional. Bonnie blogs at FaithBarista.com in Northern California with her husband Eric and their two sons. Connect with Bonnie on Facebook and Twitter.
Over the course of the next few weeks, I’ve invited friends to share their words in this space as we explore the mysteries of prayer during the Summer Bible Study.
by Bonnie Gray
I didn’t know that I was hiding. I’ve always been good at praying.
Or so I thought.
My daddy left when I was seven. I’ve always looked to God as my Father, my provider. I didn’t realize that God wanted to be more than just my provider. God longed to be my soul’s confidante—deep where I feel lonely, where I struggle to receive and make space for me.
I find it easier to take care of others and do things for God, rather than be vulnerable with my needs.
But God is showing me prayer is an intimate soul conversation to be loved and known, rather than a spiritual transaction to be made better.
This journey of restful prayer began in the most unexpected way: My first panic attack.
At the cusp of a life-long dream, writing a book, painful childhood memories re-ignited as live events. I began reliving them.
Even though I was married to my soulmate hubby, a mom to two beautiful boys, having once traveled halfway across the world as a missionary to tell others about Jesus, I couldn’t stop my heart from pounding like a jackhammer, unable to breathe. I couldn’t stop endless nights of insomnia or fatigue so thick I laid in bed by day.
I felt ashamed. It seemed the peace of Jesus I’ve always prayed for others and myself was out of reach.
I knew how to pray to be competent and strong. But I didn’t know there were deeper, beautiful prayers for broken me.
Instead of abandoning me, Jesus whispers—
“Come to me, weary and heavy-laden. And I will give you rest.” —Matt. 11:28
Sometimes, it takes more faith to fall apart with Jesus than praying for faith to stop it from happening. I began praying new intimate prayers.
I began finding spiritual whitespace: making room for rest instead of ignoring my wounding and exhaustion.
As I took the journey to find rest, I uncovered 5 Soulful Ways to Pray When You Don’t Know How:
1. When you’re overwhelmed, whisper His name.
Remember receiving a first love note? It didn’t have to be long. Yet your heart felt known seeing your handwritten name. It kept you company in the daily grind, the mention of your name. Whisper His name and listen for his echo in the quiet moments in your day. God names the stars and He whispers your name.
“He heals the brokenhearted And binds up their wounds.
He counts the number of the stars; He gives names to all of them.”
2. When you don’t have words to pray, rest knowing Jesus is praying for you.
Your silence will not drive Jesus away. Nothing can separate you from His love. Not even your unrest. He’ll never get tired of you. Sometimes, the greatest prayer we can experience is God’s complete understanding and compassion. His presence.
“Who then is the one who condemns? No one.
Christ Jesus who died…is also interceding for us.”
3. When you are too stressed to pray, take care of you.
Extend yourself the kindness and comfort you so generously give others. Ironically, the times we most need God’s comfort are the times we deprive ourselves of soul-nurturing time.
We feel selfish. Yet, God says, we can only comfort others, with the comfort we first receive ourselves. (2 Cor 1:4)
Instead of layering on guilt, head in the opposite direction. Let God love you through your choices to prioritize taking care of you.
4. When you are numb and don’t want to pray, invite Jesus into your world.
Instead of struggling to reach Jesus, invite Jesus to enter your world. Let us strive to enter that rest.
“For the word of God is living and active. . .
It penetrates dividing soul and spirit..”
The “the word of God” used is the Greek word logos—translated as living voice. This means God is not limited to the written word. God uses everything living to speak into our lives. He knows what’s on your heart and the everyday life you are living. God leaves us love notes in that everyday life to let us know: you are God’s living prayer.
Take a walk outside. Listen to music. Read a good book. Confide in a friend with a cup of coffee.
5. When you’re too exhausted to pray, stop, and rest.
“Arise and eat.
For the journey is too great for you.”
—1 Kings 19:7
Elijah had done everything he knew to do—even defeating the prophets of Baal. Yet, his problems did not go away. Stress broke Elijah’s spirit. In despair, Elijah woke up to find fresh bread baking on hot stones and water—left just for him.
Not only that. God sent an angel—to touch him—twice. God knew Elijah needed physical rejuvenation first—in order to hear His gentle voice, whispering in a gentle breeze.
No more hiding.
You’re worth it.
[Tweet “Prayer is an intimate soul conversation to be loved & known. #SpiritualWhitespace”]
This week, were giving away 3 copies of Finding Spiritual Whitespace by Bonnie Gray.
How many of us find ourselves running on empty with no time for rest, no time for ourselves, no time for God?
Bonnie Gray knows what that’s like. On the brink of fulfilling a lifelong dream, she saw her plans shatter into a journey through painful memories and anxiety. In her search for answers, she made an important discovery: we all need spiritual whitespace.
Whitespace. It’s the space on a page left unmarked. Untouched. Whitespace makes art beautiful. It gives the eye a place to rest. Just like beautiful art, our souls need balance and beauty.
With heartbreaking honesty, Bonnie guides you to discover a better story for yourself, one that feeds your soul and makes room for rest. Infused with biblical encouragement and thought-provoking prompts, this book shows us how to create space in the everyday for God, refreshment, and faith—right in the midst of our stress-frayed lives.
To win, click here to leave a comment on the original blog post at MargaretFeinberg.com. The three winners will be selected and announced on Friday.
Congratulations to the winners: Mary-Ann Winslow, Jean Chan, Amber B.