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Storyteller. Grace Dweller.

I’m Jennifer — wife of an Iowa farmer, mom to two girls, new book author. I believe in you, because I believe in Jesus. You matter to Him, and you matter to me. more »

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Tuesday 28th April 2015

#TellHisStory: Why I Asked God to Break My Heart

God saved my life the day I changed my prayers. I stopped asking Him to fix things. And I started asking Him to break things. Namely, my heart.

God would need to break me out of the miserable heart-prison I was trapped in.

Yeah, I was saved. But I was stuck.

I would need Him to free me from every mirror, every tally sheet, every report card, everything that was telling me that I’m not (________) enough. I needed to know, down deep, that in Christ, I already was enough. I wrote a book about that, about how idol-factory hearts can keep Christians locked up in the punishing Prison of Not-Enough.

The key to the prison door? Prayer.

It’s the kind of prayer that looks less like a list of anything, and more like a conversation about everything. It’s deep spirit-to-spirit communion with God. It’s gut-honest confession with the divine–the kind of gritty prayer my heart longed for. This is the intimate place where God reaches into souls to remind us, again and again, who we really are. Prayer is the place where the born-again are reborn, again and again. It’s the place of second conversions, from bondage to deliverance. For me, prayer is the place where God gently unlocked my heart, by reminding me that the only life worth living is the one where everything else is counted as loss: every resume, every credential, every shred of approval that I think I need from people. Prayer is the place where God never tires of telling us that life’s not about earning anyone’s love, but believing that we already are His beloved. Like so many Christians I know, I’ve got a bossy inner critic who tells me that I must try harder, work faster, perform better. Our own hearts betray us, sending us on crusades to seek someone’s approval or someone’s applause. No one is immune.

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I know mothers who think they’re not mother enough, pastors who think they’re not pastor enough. I know accomplished Christian writers who think they’re not writer enough.

One of the most famous artists in history thought he wasn’t artist enough: “I have offended God and mankind because my work didn’t reach the quality it should have.” So said Leonardo DaVinci, the artist who brush-stroked the face of Jesus in the most reproduced religion painting of all time: The Last Supper.

Da-Vinci-Last-Supper

We’ve all had enough of those not-enoughs. And we are wooed to the place where the not-enoughs go to die–the feet of our Savior. And that’s where I discovered the secret of a vibrant prayer life:

The secret of a vibrant prayer life means we stop asking for the fix, and we start asking for the break.

We stop asking Him to give us more of what our heart thinks it wants–some kind of quick fix to be enough in this world. And we start asking Him to break our hearts, to conform our will to His.

We ask Him to strip our hearts of the stuff that is crowding out Jesus. We ask Him to fill our hearts with more of Him, which is more satisfying than what our inner critics demand of us. He offers exceedingly more than we could ask or imagine.

God is not a glass half empty, or even a glass half full. He is the All in All, to the rim of your life. And then some. His faithfulness reaches to the heavens and plunges into the depths of your soul, way down to that hollow ache under your ribs. His attention is, at once, wholly on everyone, yet undividedly on you. God is “entirely faithful.” –Psalm 89:8

And even when He breaks, He mends.

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Let this be a house of prayer today. How can I pray for you? Has He mended you through brokenness?

#TellHisStory

Hey Tell His Story crew! It’s always a joy to gather here every week. The linkup goes lives each Tuesday at 4 p.m. (CT). If you would use the badge on your blog, found here, that would be great. And if you would visit at least one other blogger in the link-up and encourage them with a comment, that would be beautiful! Be sure to check the sidebar later. I’ll be featuring one of you over there! Jennifer Camp is our latest featured writer. She wrote a lovely piece about art and beauty. She writes: “Anything is a work of art if it speaks to us the language of beauty and of God.”(To be considered as our featured writer, be sure to use our badge or a link to my blog from your post. 🙂 )

xo Jennifer


  • Gosh, where do I start, Jennifer? So much amazing promise is available when we decide to conform only to His precepts! But only when we do… the question then that rages in the heart after this post then is; “How much do I want the full completeness of the Master?”
    Right to the brim, Lord, right to the brim and more…. 😉

    • Amen. Well stated, Christine.

  • Christy

    Wow. That’s a bold, brave prayer. One I must need to pray if I fear it…

    • Scary. I know. I’ve prayed it, and sometimes I’ve wanted to take it back again.

  • Tammy Provins

    I love the end quote, “stop asking for the fix and start asking for the break!” Yes God, break our hearts for what breaks yours. I appreciate your words as they spoke to my heart. Blessings, Tammy

    • So glad these words served your beautiful heart, Tammy.

  • Mary

    Just wow! My mind is ready for this break in how I pray but my heart is not quite there yet. As I look to retirement in a little over a month, I have felt the burden to pray differently for the last year. A prayer that what is next is God’s best for me and for the willing heart to jump in when the question becomes the answer. It’s time to pray for the break but it terrifies me most days and excites me on the rest. Thank you for your call to prayer today! Blessings!

    • I get that. My fingers trembled when I typed the words, and my heart may have skipped a few beats while praying them. And it’s so easy to try to take it back.

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  • Anita

    I’ve always found that from the breaking comes the best growth–but, oh, I’m so good at avoiding the breaking–I’m a careful sort of person who doesn’t take risks. But you’re so right–I need to ask God to break my heart for what breaks his, to conform me to his will and not keep indulging my own. Thank you.

    • I’m the same way, Anita. Not much of a risk taker. This is a very hard prayer for me to prayer, except that I know for sure that when I’m on my knees, Thy Kingdom Come draws near.

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  • Not enoughs. Sigh. We do dole those out on ourselves too often. Thanks for the encouragement to take it all to God instead. He can handle it all!

    • Those pesky not enoughs are bossy. We have to be bossier!

  • “God is not a glass half empty, or even a glass half full. He is the All in All, to the rim of your life. And then some. ” So grateful there is not one thing I can do or not do that changes His love for me. Thank you!

    • Praying for you this week, Monica. You model this blog post in your everyday lives more than anyone I can think of. I am amazed and inspired by how you shine through the brokenness. Completely humbled to know you and call you friend.

  • Loved As If

    “God is not a glass half empty, or even a glass half full. He is the All in All, to the rim of your life.”

    Yes. Yes. Yes! I’ve found He breaks like a surgeon, because we can’t heal our own wounds. Though we try, we always get it wrong. So grateful to be broken as much as I need it.

    • Oh, that’s good. The analogy to a surgeon. Thanks for that.

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  • Karen Del Tatto

    Thank you for sharing your heart in this matter. A lesson the Lord has been continually teaching me of late through my own Bible study, sermons and blog posts.

    Your insight, though, was the most helpful. It’s one thing to read that you are wholly loved by God and yes, we must believe His promises, but as you said, we are indeed all susceptible to seeking others approval despite this.

    Prayer, conversations with the Lord, that He would work in our lives to conform to His will in a manner that we can’t help but see that we are His beloved.

    • Thanks for sharing your beautiful thoughts, Karen.

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  • I appreciated this thought: that prayer is about God reminding us that we’re His beloved rather than us trying to earn others’ love or approval. I have a tough inner critic myself, so that’s good news.

    I’m like many here in the comment section: not sure if I’m ready to have my heart broken, but I do want it! God’s molding me right now as we make plans to relocate our family back to America for 9 months. Lots of walking by faith, not sight. Not sure how things are going to pan out for us! But I’m hanging onto faith that it’ll be GOOD.

    • I know. Hard prayer to pray. And I mentioned to another friend here in the comments, it’s a prayer that I often want to take back. … Praying for you right this minute, Betsy, for what you’re facing. Asking God to hold you close and guide your path.

  • Karrilee Aggett

    I just love you so much, my friend! I love all of this and how I know it’s worked its’ way through you… how you live it out… pray it out. Exactly this: “It’s the kind of prayer that looks less like a list of anything, and more like a conversation about everything. It’s deep spirit-to-spirit communion with God. It’s gut-honest confession with the divine–the kind of gritty prayer my heart longed for. This is the intimate place where God reaches into souls to remind us, again and again, who we really are.” Exactly.

    I am so bummed that you will not be at Jumping Tandem this year! I had PLANS for you and a corner and lots of chatting/praying. 😉

    As far as prayers… well, my Honey and are I doing this thing… we are starting a church. #gasp It’s a big shaky kneed brave dive into a free fall, but it is the Yes He has asked of us. Our first service is May 10th, Mother’s Day – because, of course! We are taking All. The. Prayers. – however you are led!

    • I am so sad I won’t get to see you, Karrilee! I will either be stalking Facebook to follow the action, or else I’ll have to avoid it, so I don’t feel too sorry for myself. 🙂 … Have a GREAT TIME with everyone. Sending virtual hugs to all of you.

  • Kamea Hope

    What a wonderful thing to pray for, Jennifer. Reminds me of that song, “Break my heart for what breaks yours, everything I am for Your kingdom’s cause”. I need to be emptied of myself and my selfish desires, and filled with the Holy Spirit – drawing close to God and listening for his voice to encourage and direct me. Less of me, and more of Him. Thank you!
    Blessings,
    Kamea

    • Oh Kamea! Yes! Love that song. Thanks for sharing.

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  • Kristi

    The power and counsel of the Holy Spirit was woven all through this post, Jennifer. It hit its target today: me! Thank you for being candid and having a heart after God. And for goodness sake, please keep writing. 😉

    • I’m so glad the words spoke to you, Kristi. Thanks for the encouragement.

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  • This post is full of wisdom, Jennifer. I’ve found that when I pray, like you, for God to break my heart, He truly does the most work in me and through me. But it’s not easy to pray for God to break our hearts and truly mean it. I loved that reminder that even when God breaks, He mends — because it’s so true, especially when it comes to our hearts. I think that breaking of our hearts is truly needed so that God can fix our hearts for the better, to make it better able to hold the things He gives to us.

    Thank you for this beautiful post, Jennifer. God bless you!

    • A year ago, my dad fell and broke his leg, but it didn’t heal right. So they had to go in and rebreak the bone — not to hurt him, but so that he could fully heal. I remember thinking how much that relates to our internal breaking and mending. Thanks for sharing, Ronja.

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  • Yes, this, “We ask Him to strip our hearts of the stuff that is crowding out Jesus.
    We ask Him to fill our hearts with more of Him, which is more satisfying
    than what our inner critics demand of us. He offers exceedingly more
    than we could ask or imagine.” I’ve been crowding Him out with all this doing. Dear God, may our hearts be filled with more Jesus!

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  • Chris Malkemes

    Oh my! I have found in you beating the yielded heart. ~ Chris

  • “It’s gut-honest confession with the divine–the kind of gritty prayer my heart longed for.” I’m so glad that we can live wide open before a God who knows and sees our hearts and loves us still. That He gives us permission to enter His throne room stripped of all pretense and layed bare…and He welcomes us. I love Him so!

    • “live wide open before God” … yes, we don’t have to run away from Him when we make mistakes, we can run TOWARD. And He still loves us. Incredible!

  • Samantha Landrus

    Thank you for speaking directly to my heart today.

    • I’m glad these words spoke to you, Samantha.

  • Tara Ulrich

    Jennifer, you always seem to find a way to speak directly to my heart. Prayer is such an incredible gift! There have been so many times when I have felt so lax about praying. The last five years I have taken up the Lenten idea of taking something on; I have taken on praying through my FB friends list. Oh how amazing it has been! To pray for others and now to look back and see the many ways God has answered those prayers I have prayed on their behalves. So awesome! It has reminded me again and again of the power of prayer and how I need to remember to pray for myself too.

    • That’s so cool, Tara! I love your heart for prayer and for people! Love it.

  • Constance Ann Morrison

    Your prayer for a broken and heart and the need to be freed from the “not enoughs” reminded me of Psalm 51:17, how God accepts our sacrifice of a broken heart. Then I found the Message version:
    “Going through the motions doesn’t please you,
    a flawless performance is nothing to you.
    I learned God-worship
    when my pride was shattered.
    Heart-shattered lives ready for love
    don’t for a moment escape God’s notice.”

    How appropriate!

    • Oh, wow. Perfect. Thanks for sharing, Constance Ann.

  • <3

    Shared this with my prayer group. xo

  • Nancy Ruegg

    I’ve written phrases from this post on a 3 x5, and put it with my other prayer request cards. Thank you, Jennifer, for a truly selfless way to pray for ourselves!

  • Amanda Jones

    Amen!

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