I grew up in a home where we practiced prayer. I can recall visiting my grandparents and reciting this prayer, “Come Lord Jesus, be our Guest. And let this food to us be blessed. Amen.” It was what we did. It was our family ritual. We said grace before our meals and before our bedtime.
However, I believe there is much more to prayer than what is sandwiched between “Dear God” and “Amen.” Over the years I have discovered that prayer is much more than making a list of demands to get what I want. It is much more than a therapy session. It is much more than asking God to perform, and then feeling disappointed when He doesn’t answer. I’ve learned over the years that there is more to prayer.
Prayer is not to get what I want out of God, prayer is to get what God wants inside of me.
Broadly speaking, prayer is “asking God to be glorified in the midst of our needs.” In the midst of our sin. In the midst of our difficult circumstances. In the midst of our good things; the things we are thankful for.
Prayer is opening up our lives to complete, utter dependence on an invisible God, acknowledging who He is and what He has done.
It is not limited to Sundays or a certain day of the week. It is not restricted to a schedule or timeline. It is not exclusive for pastors or elders. It is not limited to a memorized list of words.
Prayer is an act of surrendering our lives to God and being present to do His will. Anywhere. Any time. I’ve heard prayer described as “spoken faith.” It takes faith to pray. Otherwise, we are simply saying words blindly in the dark. We become no different than those who hopefully wish things will go their way. Without faith, we are no different than those who believe in the stars or good luck charms or genies in a bottle. Faith is what makes our prayers different from the prayers of other religions or do-gooders. According to Mark 11:22, we have faith in God. God is the focal point of prayer. We pray so our will WILL align with God, our Heavenly Father. Faith is an essential ingredient. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see” (NLT).
It is faith that propels our prayers.
Our faith grows as we begin to experience God. When we hear God speak, our faith takes root. Romans 10:17 reminds us, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” But it doesn’t stop here…there is more to it than simply hearing the Word of God. There is a required response on our part. We must obey. Obedience is “faith in action.”
Hebrews 11:8 says, “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.” What did Abraham do by faith? He obeyed. And we too must obey. We pray. We listen. We obey.
Why is prayer so necessary? Because the act of surrendering to God does not come easily or readily. Our flesh fights the will of God. We do not want to admit that we are broken, messy, needy people. There is a war raging inside of us bellowing loudly, “I’m good. I can figure life out on my own. I don’t need God.”
But it is through prayer that God is reproducing His heart in us. It is through prayer that we come to a deeper, richer understanding of who God is. It is through prayer we realize that our dependence is on God and God alone.
We pray because prayer changes us.
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