I’ve always wanted to see the Northern Lights. When I booked a trip to Iceland with some friends, I began praying about seeing the panoramic polar display. I know – kind of a silly thing to pray for. Except I keep believing God cares about even the simplest desires of our hearts.
We were in Iceland for nine days, and each morning I checked the aurora borealis tracker online. The cloudier the weather, the less chance of seeing the lights. Each evening was cloudy. I was disappointed but not discouraged; Iceland has more eye candy than any place I’d seen on Earth. Nonetheless, I kept asking God to make a way.
A few days before our flight home, the clouds parted. The night was clear. The stars glittered like diamonds and the moon shone so bright it felt like a spotlight. And then, my friend rushed into the hostel and said, “Quick, come outside! You have to see this!”
I grabbed my coat and boots and rounded the corner. Suddenly, I saw something: green light, dancing in the sky. Tears pricked my eyes. There they were: the Northern Lights, swaying and swirling in front of me.
I felt so small, and yet so seen. God – who created those very lights – had uncovered the clouds so I could see them.
It was such a silly, small, little thing. That trip contained more beauty than I knew what to do with. I didn’t need the Northern Lights, yet it was such a personal gift from Jesus.
When we invite Jesus into every detail of our lives, prayer can get personal. A lot of the time we think prayer is boring, routine, and ritualistic. But Jesus invites us into a life of prayerful adventure — one where we walk with Him, like a child on a hike with her father, asking questions, and listening to His gentle guidance.
Jesus made bold promises to His disciples about prayer: “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer” (Matthew 21:22). We can often mistreat Jesus’ invitations into prayer by misinterpreting God as a genie or Santa Claus. The biblical concepts can get lost in translation, and we can feel disappointed, discouraged, and rejected by God when we don’t get what we want.
But Jesus lived a life of personal prayer. He would’ve talked to His Father about everything — from turning water into wine to asking God to consider preventing the suffering Jesus would endure on the cross. There was nothing off-limits between Jesus and His Father.
There’s nothing off-limits when it comes to you and God either. Prayer isn’t meant to be boring, but personal.
This year, I found a new way to pray. I began keeping a point-form list of prayer requests in the very back of my journal. I write down a request, and then I pray and pray and pray until God answers it. Once I see the answer, I uncap my fluorescent highlighter and press the ink upon the page, highlighting the answered prayer.
My journal is filled with prayers – and even in the few months since 2023 began, many highlights.
Every time I highlight, I’m reminded of how God answers our prayers, and of how personal and tender God is toward us.
It’s a startling thing to be reminded of, isn’t it? That the God who formed the universe with a word, who breathed life into your lungs and mine, who holds everything together, listens to our prayers and answers them.
Tell Jesus everything. Ask Him to give you a life of prayerful adventure. Then just watch as your prayer life starts to get personal.