by Gretta Utecht, freshman at the University of St. Thomas
“Yo God, what’s up? Hope you’re swell. I’m doing alright. I have a theology test at 3pm; I didn’t study. Could you help a girl out? Talk to you tomorrow. Maybe. Okay. Bye! #Bless up.”
Yeah, this is what my prayer used to look like. Prayer isn’t anything new to me, but obviously I have some room for improvement. Luckily, the Lord wasn’t going to let me off easy, and I got a wake up call when I recently attended a retreat hosted by SPO called Fan Into Flame.
What are we fanning, precisely?
Fan into Flame is a retreat based off of scripture in 2 Timothy 1:6, “For this reason, I remind you to stir into flame the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands.” We had the entire weekend to experience and receive more of the Holy Spirit, both as individuals and as one body of people.
How Was I Convinced to Give Up an Entire Precious Weekend?
Short answer: because Katy Scuderi made me.
Long answer: It was clear that my prayer life was a bit of a struggle; going on a three-day retreat would force me to put my homework down and take time for God. I knew this would be a great opportunity for me to reignite my relationship with God, specifically through the Holy Spirit and His gifts. Plus, I felt pretty cool that I had responsibilities during the retreat. I was excited to be leading and serving, despite being a freshman.
My Wake Up Call Arrives
We heard many talks throughout the weekend, and we gathered in small groups afterwards to discuss and process all that was heard. The biggest thing I took away from the talks was the importance of personal prayer. Shocker, I know. In the words of the infamous Nick Redd, "I've never met a strong Christian that doesn't meditate everyday on the word of God, and I've never met a weak Christian who does."
Ouch. That one will hit you hard.
At the end of the weekend we also got a chance to pray for each other in our small groups; I kept recalling my less than perfect conversations with God, and how I struggled spending enough time in prayer or even calling His presence to mind throughout the day. So, I asked the Holy Spirit for grace and perseverance in prayer. I want to intentionally build my relationship with God.
Did It Work?
Yes and no. I am improving on committing to daily prayer. I am learning how to not push it off and be more present to God when I am talking to Him. It’s not magically perfect now, but Fan into Flame was a good wakeup call. I saw that I needed to make prayer more of a priority. If I make prayer less of priority in my life, I knew that God's place in my life would start to lessen as well.
So I still start off my prayer the same, “Yo, God! What’s up?” But it’s looking different now. I understand the Holy Spirit better than I did before; He’s helping me pray better and ultimately, bringing me closer to God.