Letters to God

It had been a tough couple of years. I was struggling to forget abuse from my past and convince myself I had a future. I was 14 years old.

As we did every summer, my brother and I spent a week at church camp in Awanita Valley, SC. And one afternoon during our free time, I wandered into my room and found one of my counselors, Corrie, sitting on her bunk writing. Our camp only lasted five days and so I wondered aloud that Corrie was writing home.

“Oh, no, I’m not writing to my parents. I’m writing to God.” Her eyes were fixed on the paper as she continued. “You should try it sometime.”

I took Corrie’s advice and it changed my life forever.

A handful of years later, listening to some cassettes from a retreat, my Evangelist friend, Ken Helser mentioned that journaling his prayers had also changed his life. But he took it a step further than Corrie had. He suggested that after writing our prayer to God that we should also write our impressions of what He is responding to our hearts.

Suddenly, instead of my prayers being a monologue, they were a dialogue. And what I was hearing from God was 1000% clearer than ever before. And because I was writing it all down, I could refer back to my notes to see what God had said.

My journals (which I have kept for 18 years and counting) revolutionized my relationship with God. Each prayer was a conversation and each book was a treasure. (I still have them all. The ones pictured above are only about five years’ worth.)

Sadly, since I graduated college, the journaling time has dwindled. But at some point, I had to learn how to pray without writing. I had to learn how to pray while using my hands for other things… to fill prescriptions in a medical clinic in Congo… to do eye exams in an eye clinic in Argentina… to hold a 3-year-old, burning with fever, whose mother is already at the hospital with another sick child.

Even though today is the Chapter 4 discussion of Craig Groeschel’s The Christian Atheist, I’m going to leave the book work to my co-facilitator, Jason, and make one more point before I close.

When God says no, it doesn’t mean that He doesn’t love you.

Several years ago, my friend, Sheila was diagnosed with breast cancer. Our entire church and people all over the world were praying for Sheila’s recovery. She went through treatments, lost her hair, and went into remission. We all believed that Sheila had gotten a miracle and that she was miraculously healed.

Within one week, they found that the cancer had moved into her lungs, brain, and spine. In a matter of weeks, she was dead.

Her family and friends were devastated. And her best friend even prayed that Sheila would come back from the dead. But it didn’t happen.

We asked God to let Sheila live and He said no. We could translate that as God not loving us or God not loving Sheila. But I really think that it’s the contrary. God loved Sheila so much that He said no and brought her home to be with Him. And we were just blessed for the time we had with her.

Prayer Changes Everything!

One of the main themes that we’re talked about is that the key to being a real and vital Christian instead of a Christian Atheist is the relationship with God. And that’s what prayer is all about. Prayer is that time I sit down knee to knee or hand to hand or heart to heart with the lover of my soul. It’s the time when I can be myself and pour myself out and get filled back up again. It’s the time when He tells me Who He IS and shows me who He wants me to be.

Prayer is the key.

Does prayer scare you? Why? Do you feel satisfied with your prayer life? If not, how can you change it?

Remember that this post is part of the Chapter 4 discussion going on at Jason’s site. Please go over there and check out the rest of the discussion. It will be amazing!

About Sarah Salter

Comments

  1. Journals are way awesome. It is amazing what comes out when you write something down. You go back and read it, and think “Did I really say that? I can’t say that.”

    It’s like our hands cut out the filter in our mind, and connect straight to our heart.

  2. I loved your story and the idea of writing letters to God. I suppose that’s the best reason I started writing in the first place. I would write, and then spend quite a long time formatting it in an email to my sisters and a few close friends. Eventually, my emails were being forwarded and spread around and suddenly, a stranger emailed me and said, “I’ve been receiving your emails for a long time from so and so who is getting them from so and so. Maybe you should just post them on a blog?”

    And now I blog.

    I agree with you when God says No that he it isn’t because he doesn’t love us. This will always be a hard one to understand, especially with death. But there have been times that God told me no, and it took 6 months for me to realize the reason why. But there always is!

    Gotta share this one. It was very well written!

  3. Discipline strikes again! It’s amazing what happens when we discipline ourselves to do these types of things, isn’t it?

    That listening part is the key to it all. Otherwise prayer would be just another boring, mindless exercise. I don’t need any more of those. 🙂

    Great thoughts and encouragement. Thank you Sarah!

  4. I think it’s great that you kept those journals. I actually enjoy my prayer time.

  5. Wow — I never thought about writing God’s responses.

    It’s only been somewhat recently (the past couple of years or so) that I’ve written prayers to God. I don’t write all my prayers, but I write some. Writing keeps me very focused, because my mind really tends to wander a lot. I would say overall, however, I have never been satisfied with my prayers life. I may have to try your idea, although I feel a little weird about it.

  6. good post, sarah ?

  7. oh…my heart turned into a question mark.

    it’s really a heart.

  8. I begin each day with coffee in one hand and my journal in the other.. asking the Lord what He desires to share with me. He is always faithful to answer and we have a precious time of fellowship as I write what He speaks to my spirit.

  9. Sarah Salter says:

    Sharkbait, Duane, Jason, Kathy, Nancy, & Firefly – Thank you for stopping by and sharing today! I love that the Lord can speak to us in ANY way He wants to and CHOOSES to hear us in ANY way we speak to Him. Thanks again for sharing!

    Lainie- I encourage you just to try it. It may not be THE WAY that you best speak to God or hear from Him, but it could be revolutionary for you!

  10. I don’t know; it seems a little touchy. It seems like I’d be putting words into His mouth or something.

  11. Sarah Salter says:

    Lainie, occasionally I feel the same way… Like I’m not really hearing God and that I’d be making it up if I tried. So, on those days, I don’t write a response. But I think that if you try it, you might be REALLY surprised at what comes out of your pen and how amazingly it sounds like God and how little it sounds like you. But don’t let me pressure you into it. Just because it works for me, doesn’t mean it’s for you. But I will say that one of the most successful drug rehab facilities in the world (Dunklin Memorial Camp in Okeechobee, FL) employs this very technique (combined with some others) and believes that the journaling to God is the key to their success.

  12. Journaling TO God I see; journaling FROM God seems dicey.

    But, I’ll think about it. 😀

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