I have often heard it said that prayer is a relationship with God, but rarely have I heard teaching or read books that handle prayer as a relationship. Once prayer is in the hands of the generic teacher, or author, it is suddenly more theological than relational.

I am rebellious and for the most part I disregard most of the teaching and reading about prayer and carry on with my relationship. My prayer life does not look or sound theological most of the time. However, I never really thought to apply the wisdom I have learned about developing healthy relationships with people to my prayer life. I just keep muddling through.

For example, I have been married long enough, had enough friendships blow up over misunderstandings, and had enough cold war years with my parents to know that assumptions are poison to any relationship. Assumptions inevitably lead to misunderstandings and unrealistic expectations. All of which, turn into heart break. Sometimes assumptions lead to the complete breakdown of a relationship until it is gone and over.

Whenever I find myself slipping into old habits of assuming I know what my husband is thinking, or what he intends (especially if I am assuming the worst!) I nip it in the bud and go ask him point blank. If I haven’t kept up too well with an old friend, and assume I know how they feel about our friendship, I try to call them to reconnect and find out the truth of the matter. If I don’t understand what my mother is talking about I don’t assume a solution to the confusion, I ask her what she means. I’d rather be awkward, make the other person awkward, or show how stupid I can really be than make assumptions and jeopardize my relationship with the people I love.

All this gained wisdom, all this knowing better, and I have not stopped making assumptions in my relationship with God. He gives me a gift, and I assume I know exactly how He wants me to use it. He gives me a word and I assume I know exactly what it means and how it will play out in my life. He gives me a prophetic dream and I assume to know how important that dream is, and what it means, and what to do with that information.

But, do I really?

I’ve come to realize: no, not really. I tend to get caught up in details that aren’t important in my prophetic dreams, and I blame God for lying to me. I get words, and more often than not do absolutely nothing with them because I am afraid. I interpret that fear to mean, “God just wants me to pray into this.” I have many gifts and talents but I hide them away, only using them in secret, and say it is a drink offering to the Lord that is meant to be “wasted.”

I make a lot of assumptions about what God says to me in order to keep myself in a comfort zone. As a result I hurt Him. I accuse Him. I reject Him. I fence myself in and I do not further the kingdom of God.

I have been working on the fear, and I share my words more often than I used to. I realize I hide when the bible says to let your light shine. So I am making an effort to use my gifts for people. Not all drink offerings were poured out into the dirt, often they were used to minister to the Levites. How many Levites have I left parched over the years?

When I receive from the Lord, I ask Him what He wants done with what He has given me. I don’t assume any more. I am being drawn further and further out of my comfort zone, but in the end this is what I really want. Being comfortable is boring and meaningless.

Most of all, I want to be a good friend to God. I don’t want to falsely accuse Him anymore, I don’t want to reject Him and His invitations. I want to draw close to Him, find the truth of the matter, and go forth together in prayer and relationship.

– Etta Woods

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