Prayer is one of those things that a lot of Christians just don’t do often enough. In my own life, I have been guilty of shying away from prayer, or only praying when I needed something from God. But I think the reason we don’t have a healthy prayer life is because we look at it from the wrong perspective.
How many of us, and be honest, think of prayer as boring? I know I sure have. I mean for a long time whenever I prayed I felt as though my words just hit the ceiling and bounced back down with no effect at all. Or I would go to pray and all of the sudden find myself using all of these long weird phrases that I would never use in my everyday language, so the time I did spend in prayer felt as though I was a Celestial Translator and not a normal person talking to her Father.
God does not want us to pray like the Pharisees did. The Pharisees prayed when others could hear and babbled on with a lot of words, but those words were empty. Rather, God wants the private prayers of a Christian to be the norm, but for them to also pray in public. God is more concerned with the substance of our prayers than where or when we pray.
Prayer is just a fancy word for communication. We need to communicate with God, and the way we do that is through prayer. It is simply how we talk to God. Prayer is often related to how we communicate with our spouse or a close family member or friend. If we only spoke to them once a day or once a week or when we needed something, we would have pretty bad relationships or no relationship at all with those people in our life. It’s the same with God. He doesn’t want to just hear from us every now and then or when we need something from Him. God wants to know us personally and He wants us to know Him personally as well. The more time we spend in honest conversation with God, the closer we will become to Him.
I have had a lot of reasons to go to God in prayer throughout my life. I have had cancer twice, so God was the main one I talked to then. But if I only went to God when I was worried or needed Him, then I wouldn’t receive as much as I do from Him when I pray because it’s not about what we pray, it’s about a relationship with the one who created us. I spend enough time in prayer to where now I can recognize when God is speaking something to my heart; I’ve become familiar with His inaudible voice.
I don’t pray using these Christian phrases, I just simply talk to God. I share my fears with Him. I talk to Him like an excited little girl when things are gong great, and cry before Him when things are hard. I’ve even yelled at God out of frustration. It’s okay to be translucent before the one who knows you better than anyone else. He can handle it.
If we want a powerful prayer life we need to make sure three things are in place:
1.Pray to God often and personally
2. Be still in God’s presence
3. Learn to forgive
I’ve already addressed number one. So for number two, be still in God’s presence, I want to point out the importance of listening. Often we pray, talking for several minutes in a row about what we need, and maybe even taking time to thank God for who He is and His love and forgiveness, but then as soon as we are finished we get up and walk away. That is a one sided conversation. I would hate it if my husband was the only one who ever did the talking. So why do we expect God to always listen when we never try to or take the time? I encourage you then next time you talk to God, when you are finished talking spend some time quiet just listening. I have never heard God’s audible voice; I think I’d pee my pants if I ever did, but I am very familiar with His inaudible voice because I have taken a lot of time to just sit and listen. Do I feel like every time I listen He speaks to my heart? No, but it does happen, and the peace I get is so overwhelmingly amazing!
But besides praying often while being honest with God as you speak to Him, and taking time to listen so God can respond, it is also very important to go before God with a heart of forgiveness.
Matthew 6:12-15 says, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors” (Matt. 6:12) but is followed up with:”For if you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you… But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” (Matt. 6: 14-15)
It is important to seek forgiveness for your own sins and then give forgiveness to others who have wronged you. If not, our hearts will not be in a place to receive anything from God.
Take time this week to make prayer a priority. When I worked full-time, I would pray on my way to work instead of listening to the radio. Trust me, I got a whole lot more from those conversations with God that would help me through my day than I could have ever gotten from a disc jockey. It doesn’t matter when you pray, but try to have a conversation with God at least once a day. Where you are not only pouring out all of your burdens but you are also taking the time to praise Him and listen.
Hope you have a great day and again I am sorry for the lack of blogs last week.
Coming up on Wednesday: Chicken Pot Pie