Noticing and Naming [Guest]

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Tori Riches is a faithful member of CCC who is involved everywhere from kids and youth to hospitality to tear down and everything in between. Tori is an adventurous third-grade teacher who loves coffee, hiking and her family and friends. She is a global thinker with a heart for the world (especially Haiti) that is expressed through loving the people right in front of her. Tori's diligent pursuit of the Lord and His kingdom is inspiring, to say the least. Recently she's been learning a lot about the discipline of prayer in her life that she shares with us today. 

Noticing and Naming by Tori Riches

When my roommate moved here last year from Florida, she was mesmerized by the Colorado beauty (I mean, who can blame her? Colorado is incredible). This brought a whole new perspective to my life. Runs through the park were an encounter with wildlife, and yes, I do mean those pesky prairie dogs-she couldn't get enough. Hikes in areas I'd been before became a lesson in forestry. She would ask me names of every tree, and I never had any idea. These were the same places I'd been many times before, but I was starting to see them through her eyes. As she noticed details I overlooked, my perspective changed and my appreciation grew.

I'm finding this to be true in my prayer life, too. It's about noticing and naming. It starts with paying attention to what God has placed in front of us, what he might have us pray for. And then we start asking. We start bringing each and every one of those things to the throne of God. We name it, and then we pay attention to what he is doing. We notice and name. When we choose to pay attention, we see him show up, in big and small ways. We learn that he always hears, and he always answers.

I spend my days with a crew of eight-year-olds. They teach me as much as I teach them and show me the face of God in ways I would never see otherwise. I try to pray for one of them every day. I don’t do it because I’m a good teacher or a great Christian. I do it because I start to see them through God’s eyes when I lay them at his feet each morning. The other day I prayed for one in particular, and as I was praying, I realized I knew very little about her as a person. I asked God to let me see her through his eyes, to let me know more of her story, and to let me find out something new about her. That day brought multiple sweet encounters with this girl. I learned more about her story, more about her personality, and more about her as a learner. God answered my prayer in abundance, but my time in prayer also slowed me down enough to pay attention, so I could see God’s presence in my day, and see this young girl like he does.

He also answers with a no sometimes. And This is both real and hard. And for me, it is still a little raw. Just this past month I spent weeks praying expectantly about a youth event. I believed wholeheartedly that I was praying into God’s will, that there was no way he wouldn’t bless this prayer, that he wouldn’t show up. I believed he would fill the auditorium, bless the lives of teens, and start helping us foster relationships. I prayed alongside others believing that when we come together in God’s name, he is present and will bless our faith. I was confident. I was expectant. I was excited. And his answer was not what I expected. He didn’t show up in the way I expected, and being honest, I didn’t really see how he showed up at all. The turnout was less than we expected, by a lot. It rocked me. It challenged me. It hurt me. I still don't understand why God didn't fill the room, bring teens, and start growing our tiny ministry. How do we pray expectantly, seek God's will, and trust him fully with the outcome when it doesn't align with our expectations, when it seems like he let us down? I’m still not sure about that answer, but because God has been helping me pay attention in other ways, I am returning to him with my disappointment. He is big enough to handle it. I'll continue to ask him what he is doing in the midst of what seemed like a letdown, because I believe his plans are bigger than me, and I am trusting that he will still get all the glory.

So today I’m choosing to pay attention and set aside time to pray. I want to see God moving in every area of my life, and I want a deeper relationship with him every day. As I’ve prioritized prayer in my life, I’ve come to know him, see him, and hear him better. I'll continue to practice noticing and naming because I don't want to miss out on the ways I get to be a part of God's story.