Do you know those candy bar commercials where the person is acting like a monster until they eat the candy bar and then they are transformed? “You aren’t yourself when you are hungry.” I love those commercials because they are often humbling. I can easily get “hangry” (Hungry + Angry) if I don’t watch myself. This happens physically and can also happen spiritually.
When I go without talking to Dad (God) for a while or if my talks with Him are just on the surface level, I become like those monsters in the commercial. When my heart is misaligned with Dad I get a little crazy; I have MAJOR control issues, I prefer working to get the job done myself, I take matters into my own hands, nervous freak outs happen regularly, and then of course I blame God for allowing the craziness to happen.
I noticed the way I was acting a couple years ago. I would go into crazy Caleb mode at work, I would treat my roommates bad, and when kids at youth group came to me for assistance I will try to absorb all their problems. Prayer was never an option for me because I just assumed that I could help God out. I did not like what all that looked like so I asked God to heal my mindset on prayer. I wanted a dynamic prayer life because if I am saying “Caleb is a Christian,” what I am really saying is “If you want to see what Jesus looks like, look at my life!” Well I knew that my life was not a good reflection of the Life of Jesus so it was time to change.
Dad and I took a journey into my heart to figure out why I had a problem with prayer, and oh boy… it was not a fun journey. I learned that a person can have two different types of knowledge, Head and Heart. One of my teachers at Elim Bible Institute and College once told me, “The Truth can be different than the Facts.” For example, I can ABSOLUTELY believe with all my heart that I am going to be THE BEST linebacker the NFL has ever seen. That belief can be complete truth for me, but the fact of the matter is that I am a gangly, skinny, 6 foot, 150 pound nerd… If I played NFL I would get run over faster than you can say “Blue 52.”
What I learned about myself was this: I would go around telling everyone that I knew that God heard my prayers because that is what the Bible says (Head knowledge), but whenever I would ask God for something, my heart would whisper, “come on Caleb, you know He won’t answer” (Heart knowledge). The fact was that God’s Word says He listens but the truth was that Caleb didn’t believe it. The truth can be different than the facts.
I have had a lot of tough things happen in my life and out of them came a lie that has been the cause of many spiritually “hangry” days. It tells me: “Caleb, the people who are supposed to love you the most will eventually leave. You don’t need any one’s help.” Never had I imagined that the reason I had trouble praying was a wound from the past. I honestly believed that God would not come through for me. I needed to allow God to heal it.
I started asking God to change my perspective on prayer and things began to radically change. The first time I remember was when I was just getting into computers. I had just bought a new game but when we got home it was too late to play. I was SO excited I barely slept that night and woke up at 4am to play it…. (I can feel you judging me already :) ) But…. *plot twist* …. It would not install! I tried EVERYTHING I knew to do and I could not get it to work. After an hour of trying, 10 year old Caleb did the last thing he could, “God, I would like to play this game but I can’t figure it out. Can you help me?” I kid you not, that game installed PERFECTLY after that and I played so much that I grew to hate it.
When that memory came back, God showed me if He cares so much about me that He helped me install a computer game, how much more would He care for me when I needed Him the most? He continued to show me many times throughout my life that He had answered my prayers but I wasn’t able to see His answers because of that lie I believed.
Now I am not saying that I am now awesome and my prayer life is raising the dead, I still struggle with it. However, my prayer life has been drastically different. A few months ago, I had a tough work situation come up. At the time I was working for the Elim Gospel Church portable Henrietta campus. It is a church site that meets in a hotel ballroom every week, which means that all of the equipment, stage, etc. is stored in trailers during the week and set up early Sunday mornings. We always give ourselves plenty of time to set up but there isn’t much time to troubleshoot any problems that might come up.
This particular Sunday the sound system was not turning on and after working on it for an hour I still couldn’t figure it out and worship rehearsal started in 15 minutes. At that point I went into my normal mental freak out and started sweating, but this time, something rose up in my heart and asked me a profound question; “Have you prayed yet?” I had not and I did not want to give in to the stress any more. I needed my Dad’s help. Then I prayed the most honest prayer of my life: “God, the sound system is not working and I can’t figure it out. I have done my part but you are still in charge, which means that if you want us to have church then you have to do something. I either need you to show me the problem or fix it yourself or church is not going to happen today.” I was not angry or demanding, I was just God’s son who knew that I could not do anything else but my Dad could.
It was immediately after that desperate prayer when God told me to go check again under some wires and I saw a very small, buried switch that had gotten turned off… that was all the problem and I would have never figured it out in my stressful panic. When we let go of situations and trust them to our Father then change can happen.
During the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus encouraged us not to worry about the day to day things because God would take care of us in the same way He has been taking care of the way the flowers he created continued to grow. Then He said: Instead of worrying seek FIRST the Kingdom of God and God would take care of the rest (Matthew 6:25-34).
Looking at God and determining in our hearts to follow Him first is like us eating a Spiritual candy bar. We transform from the hungry monster to the Child of God who knows who they are. James 5:16 says “… The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” When we know the that Kingdom is alive and active in our lives, then we know what to pray.
Now, I have been writing a lot on prayer, but you may not struggle with prayer like I do. So what if there is something else holding you back? Have you ever wondered why you struggle with something that seems easy for most people such as talking to God, evangelizing, giving time/money etc.? What if that aspect of your relationship with God could stop being such a chore but become second nature. What would your life and ministry look like then?
Unresolved wounds of our past can keep us from so many things but many of us don’t realize they are present. We are leaders in the Church raising up the next generation and the enemy of our souls knows that. He has been targeting my heart since the day I was born and I am not his only target. In order to go deeper in to my relationship with my Father, I had to go deep into the battlegrounds of my heart and allow God to heal the hurts there.
One of the Pastors at my church once told me “You can’t expect what you don’t inspect.” I want to challenge us all to go after the wounds and stop keeping them locked away. One of my EBI professor’s signature quote was “changed lives change lives.” The next time that thing pops up try to identify the difference between the truth and the fact that your heart has believed. Once you do, seek God’s healing and you will be amazed at how your outlook will change.
Caleb got saved on a missions trip to Honduras and from that day on knew that God had him working with youth. God has also used his passion for video games and technology as a means to give him positions of influence over the Elim Community by working with the various tech needs. He graduated from Elim Bible Institute and College in 2013 and is currently working at Elim Gospel Church as their Tech and IT Coordinator. He is also a self-diagnosed genius and super hero … but don’t tell anyone.