There are consequences to praying regularly. It means that I am less able to be selfish, less able to justify my anger, impatience, and rudeness, and less able to feed my flesh with carnal pleasures (like refined white sugar and spider solitaire from Microsoft).
Ugh, we always think of all the wonderful gifts that come from prayer. The things that leave us feeling sky high and unstoppable. Like when we pray for someone to be healed, and we see their healing come in a moment! Wow, that is awesome!
Or when we are contending for a loved one, and they see breakthrough in their lives over the next few weeks or months and we know it was caused by our continued praying.
I also love it when I have been praying for revelation over a certain scripture and the Lord brings it and suddenly my eyes are open and the Word comes alive. What pleasure!
But we don't talk about the uncomfortable consequence of prayer. Talking to the Father regularly causes us to hear His heart more clearly and to see the areas in our lives that need to change more. As I have been spending more and more time in the prayer room, I have had these less pleasant consequences coming up in my life, and I'm pretty sure I'm not the first.
As I go deeper in the Lord, and then I try to go home and be a wife and mother, I am slapped in the face continually with the reality of my own condition. It makes me want to squirm even now as I think about it. How some days I spend hours in the presence of the Lord and then come home and can't even pretend to be in a good mood as I scramble to make dinner for my children.
Or when I am spending time praying silently, and then someone else starts to pray out loud and all I can think is how I hope they will hurry up and finish their prayer so I can get back to my own time with the Lord. Whoa, where did that selfishness come from?!?
You are probably laughing, either because my stories are so oddly familiar, or because they sound so ridiculous. I laugh sometimes too, and ask the Lord to forgive me in the next breath, but then an hour later I think or do something equally selfish or rude.
Our pastor, Mike Bickle calls it the Lord's 'microscope' (or something like that).
When we are young Christians, we see our lives at the 10x power, and we are grossed out by all the garbage. So we partner with the Lord's heart and work on the areas that need some work and we see our life transformed gradually. It is only by the Lord's hand that we improve, but until He helps us along, it is oh-so uncomfortable to look at the filth of our life.
Then, when it is just starting to look nice (our life, not our filth), the Lord turns it up to the 100x power and we see a whole new level of filth. So we groan and say, 'Oh Lord, I am still wretched!' and He comes along and helps us start changing and cleaning again.
Well, all this prayer room time must have flipped the switch in my life for the next level of inspection because I am squeamish when I think of all the filth I see in my own heart. Especially because when I try to talk to people about it, they look at me and don't see it.
I suppose that is because at this point, most of the garbage is hidden in my heart and I've learned just enough self control to keep it all inside (for the most part), out of sight! Probably only Ken sees most of it, but I am also privy to it, and it is making me sick.
So here I am, in a new season of love and intimacy with the Lord, and I am being afflicted with the reality of my own condition, and it is painful some days. It is a consequence of talking with the Lord so much and asking in my heart of hearts, "come change me, try me, renew me, refine me".
He has taken me at my word and in His mercy He is ready to partner with me again to work on these areas in my heart that need the work right now. The battle against the flesh is about to start raging at a new level, and I am ready to wage that war, because I am painfully aware of my sins!
I also want to continue to see my heart transformed, and that makes my momentary discomfort worth it.