I am about to ask a question, and I can almost feel the hands going up as I do.
Who, beside me, struggles to have a healthy and consistent prayer life?
Bam. There it is.
Recently I started to hear God speak to my heart about prayer.
I pray often. I talk to God in conversation throughout the day all the time. I speak those S.O.S. prayers as needed, on a regular basis. I pray before my meals, giving thanks. My hubby and I pause to pray together for those in need in our circle. I typically pray after I read the word, and before I start my day.
But what I don’t do consistently enough, is stop and commit secluded regular time to prayer. I don’t journal my prayers very often. I don’t sit for an extended amount of time on a daily basis with hands folded and eyes closed.
But that’s what I am supposed to do to be a successful pray-er, right?
And what about the KIND of prayers I pray? Are they the right kind? Am I saying it right? Do I balance my prayers out between asking Him to change things in my life and thanking Him for all He has already done? Does God even listen? Does prayer even change things? Or am I wasting my time?
I know a lot of us think those thoughts, even though we don’t voice them out loud. Not to a friend, not in bible study groups, and not to our spiritual leaders. But they are there, in our hearts and minds. (I see those hands again!)
I think it’s possible that we complicate prayer to much. So much so, that when we aren’t sure we are doing it right, we just don’t do it at all. I don’t have all the answers for you when it comes to prayer. I already told you that I struggle with “doing prayer right”. So today we are going to talk openly and honestly about prayer. This isn’t a post about “3 simple steps to a better prayer life”. Or a neat and tidy “A, B, Cs of prayer”.
Instead, today is a “just do it” kind of post. No right, wrong or otherwise. Some simple suggestions to get you going.
If you are like most of us, it’s easy to ask God to fix things. Asking God is the easy part of prayer. His Word reminds us that we need Him. That He desires to draw near to us and to guide us. God does want us to come to Him with our requests.
Jeremiah 29:12 makes that clear. “Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.”
Philippians 4:6 says this; “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done.”
Ever since the fall of mankind (Genesis 3), we have been living in a broken world. The world we are experiencing currently is not the world that God designed. And because of that, we struggle. We hurt. We have relationship issues. We have physical and mental health issues. There is tension and strife in all of humanity. The list goes on.
But God says in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” God instructs us to come to Him. That means that He wants to hear from us. He wants to help us. He wants us to acknowledge our needs and struggles.
But did you catch the rest of Philippians 4:6? “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done.”
There’s the missing piece.
So often, we ask God for his help to right all the situations in our lives that are wrong. And that’s good! We need to do that. But…how often do we remember to stop and thank Him for all the things He has already done? In my own experience, the answer is not often enough.
Let’s remember that much of the life we are living currently, is because of the prayers we prayed in the past.
When I begin to thank God for His works in my life, I begin to see all that I already have because of His love. It’s possible that I could remain in a prayer of thankfulness for a very long time. Most likely, even longer than I could pray about all that needs to change.
But the key is balance.
Balancing requests with gratitude. When I thank God for all that He has already done, I am more aware of His goodness and provision. And when I do that, I am more likely to approach my time of asking with respect and humbleness than with a demanding attitude.
God has done so much for me. He owes me nothing but has already given me all I need. I owe Him everything but have very little to give back in comparison with all I have been given. Praying prayers of thankfulness may be the best starting place to developing a meaningful prayer life.
See, the thing about prayer is this; Just do it! Don’t worry about if it is right or wrong, just start. Talk to God. Don’t complicate it by trying to be perfect at it. The more you pray, the easier you will find the conversation becomes. Prayer is not so much about the words we say, as the heart we bring. Psalm 145:18 tells us “The LORD is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth”. He just wants to hear from us, for us to acknowledge our need for Him. To desire His guidance and love. To pause from all of our activity and “doing”, to spend some time with Him.
After all, isn’t that how we develop relationships? By spending time together? By open communication? Through sharing and through listening?
As I have worked to develop my relationship with the Lord, I have grown. He has shown me, over time, those areas of my life that need tweaking. Recently, that area has been prayer. And now that I ‘m aware of that, I can’t help but want to improve it. Not so that God will love me more, but so that I can love Him more.
Maybe, like me, you have a prayer life, but you’re feeling like maybe it’s time to dive a little deeper with it. Maybe how you have been praying is good, but your heart is telling you that there’s more. Maybe, you’ve already been thinking those thoughts, and now you are reading this blog post about prayer. It’s not a coincidence, it’s God.
Here is a super simple pattern for prayer to get you going.
Praise Him: For who He is and all He has done. Creator, sustainer, all mighty, all knowing, all powerful, gracious and loving Father.
Thank Him: There is so much to thank Him for. For love, and life. For His provision. For the ways that He has answered previous prayers. For healthy relationships. For happy times. For His presence in our lives. And on and on.
Tell Him what you need, where you are struggling: Relationships. Health issues. Financial strains. Obedience to His word.
Sister, I encourage you to pray. It will change your heart. It will bring you peace and purpose. No matter how you do it, do it. God hears you and He desires to draw you closer to Him through prayer.
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
Take that step.
“Father, I need You. I admit that I often neglect You. That I sometimes ask of You more than I thank or praise You. But I want to change that now. Remind me to pray, draw me to Yourself through communication with You. Give me the desire that I sometimes struggle with, to spend time with You in prayer. Your love for me is greater than I can think or imagine. Having dialog with You is a privilege. Help me not to take that for granted. Amen.”