Thinking About… The Reason for Prayer

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Hi friends. A different sort of post. I know not all of you will quite see eye-to-eye with me on this one, but thank you for graciously allowing me to share this part of my (bumpy) journey with you. 

I’ve been thinking about prayer.

Am I doing it right? Am I doing it long enough? Is it okay if pray for this one thing that I really, really, really want to happen? Or is that too selfish?

And, of course, shouldn’t I have this down by now? After all, I’m certain my parents started teaching me about it before I could even talk.

I’ve been mulling over this one for a while now, but a message a few Sundays back convicted me from a different angle. The pastors at my church have been teaching a series of lessons entitled: “What’s So Good About the Good News?” In other words… what’s the big deal about the gospel and being a Christian?

This particular week focused on the aspect of family, and it definitely hit me the hardest. What a beautiful truth that God is our Father, that He created us, and He loves us. Better yet, God does not love us generically, but rather each one of us individually. Isn’t that incredible?! I began a relationship with God at age 5, and I am a part of His family forever!

Check out where the arrow is pointing in my (sloppy!) notes:

Translation: God is a relational father. You’re the impersonal one.

Ouch.

I kind of like to be impersonal. Yeah, I have a blog. But it’s on the INTERNET! I sort of love that I rarely encounter people who actually read my blog in real life. And really, how personal is an Instagram of Boyd? You might know how many burpees I can do in one minute, but only a few close friends know personal things about me. Remember how I described telling them about Kevin… it was like pulling teeth! And I really hate the dentist.

I started wondering if I acted like that with God. Impersonal. Arms length. Intellectually.

That was about 2 weeks ago. As a side note, can I just encourage you to take notes in church? To journal a little? Even if it’s not your natural tendency, it’s sooo worth it and it will bless you in the end because, let’s face it. Our memories are short. Especially if the speaker is going over and we’re getting hungry!

I thought about it a lot when I was walking Pippa, especially today since I had a weird sneezing outburst coupled with a dull headache.

26 minute miles really give you a little time to ponder things! (I obviously don’t have any piano students on Mondays!)

I came to the conclusion that this impersonal problem was probably connected to my not-so-great prayer life. After all, isn’t that the way we communicate with God? Definitely reading His Word in the Bible is another way, but that one comes naturally a bit easier for me.

I happened to pick up this book last night while I was hunting for a different book:

Kevin James apparently read it with a small group a few years back, and I hadn’t even really noticed it on our bookshelf before. I found myself immediately draw to Chapter 5 - What Is Prayer? Only 5 pages long! I read it. A few times.

Some highlights:

Prayer, which is personal communication from us to God, not only helps us know about God but also helps us to truly know God.

The reason for prayer:

God does not want us to pray so that he can find out what we need for Jesus said,`Your Father know what you need before you ask him.’ (Matt.6:8) Instead, God wants us to pray so that our dependence on him can increase.

I think that can be a little confusing sometimes — why do we pray to God when He’s omniscient, right?

The author (Wayne Grudem) gives a few answers to this question. Starting with… we want our dependence to increase.

Ooo. That stings a little. In the blog world, in music (Hello, Destiny’s Child!), and all the world around me, I’m getting the message that I will be the most fulfilled if I’m a strong, independent woman. How do I reconcile that?!

But self-reliance is NOT a Christian virtue. And it’s just not that book telling me this. I dug a little deeper. When Jesus teaches us how to pray in Matthew 6, he models this total dependence on God for our most mundane physical needs – “Give us today our daily bread.” Although that sounds… uncomfortable… the good news is that we can expect God to provide for us, just as a father provides for his children. More good news: the details in your life matter to God. The Creator of the universe. Amazing.

Secondly,

God does not just desire that our trust in him will grow through prayer; he also desires that our love for him and our relationship with him will deepen and grow…. this is something that God delights in. It is also something that brings Him glory.

Aha! The PERSONAL part.

I have to tell the truth. And Kevin will back me up on this. I get annoyed when my husband prays “too long” – particularly before meals! I’ve been even known to do a little huff. Yikes. I’m not proud of that. While I don’t necessarily think that’s the optimal time for long-winded  conversations with the Lord, it’s certainly convicting. After all, when else am I making that time? Other than when I really need something. (But that’s missing the point, right, since God knows what we need before we ask him?) Rather God wants us to communicate. To work on our relationship.

Imagine if I only emailed Kevin when I wanted a new boots or I needed him to put air in the bike tires. And that was our only  communication. Yeah, we wouldn’t be the smiley, mooshy, nerdy couple you know and love. And he probably knew both of those things already too (lol).

Healthy communication is always a dialogue. Speaking with… not to or at someone! That’s definitely something I can continue working on!

Finally,

God wants us to pray because it allows us to be a part of a story that is greater than our own. It allows us to be involved in activities that have eternal significance. When we pray, God’s kingdom is advanced  as his will is done `on earth as it is in heaven.’ (Matt.6:10)

That “a story that is greater than our own” definitely stuck out to me. I bolded it in my brain – haha. Psalm 39 says,”let me know how fleeting my life is.” I haven’t hit my long distance running prime yet, but I will soon! And after that, it’s all downhill, right? Kidding. Have you ever taken a step back and realized that something you’re obsessing about right now will not matter in 5 minutes? My ballet outfit? My inability to do a single under. NBD in light of eternity, right? I’m not saying I  can’t think about those things; however, prayer is one way I (we) can be involved in something that really matters!

Resources: 

If you care to share…

Why do you think God wants us to pray? To increase our dependence on Him, to deepen and grow our relationship with Him, and to allow us to be involved in a story that is greater than our own.

How have you recently experienced the benefits of prayer? I’ve been praying about… learning about this. A work in progress.

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21 thoughts on “Thinking About… The Reason for Prayer

  1. This was really interesting for me to read- as some who is NOT religious and never has been. I was never given a religion. I explored many different types- but never found one that I felt made my life better. And I am completely content with that. I find my spirituality in nature- and boy do I feel close to God when I’m out on a mountain, alone, and just have time to reflect, think and connect.
    I have to be honest- I am a little turned off by prayer in public. I just don’t get it. I feel like it’s SUCH a private thing- it’s my time and conversations with God- and it shouldn’t be forced or said in public. I don’t want to offend you or anyone that disagrees with that, but that’s always been my opinion. I get really uncomfortable when I am “forced” to pray (at a wedding, before a meal, etc.) because I just feel like it’s my personal/private time. Does that make sense?

  2. Corrie Anne, my dearest! I absolutely love this post, your honesty, your humble heart, and just your desire to grow and to become a woman of prayer! I have been very selfish in my prayers lately. My prayers are full of “please help me…be with me as I…don’t let me…” me, me, me…You’re right! God already knows my desires and my needs. I don’t need to ask him…he just desires intimacy. I’m like a child always asking for something from my father. I need to mature bc I long for a two-way conversation. I want to hear my father’s voice..
    Thank you for sharing!

  3. I feel like some crazy cool Corrie Anne blog-looks are comin’ our way. I’m crazy-daisy excited.

    I really felt what you were saying in this post. My christian journey has been a rocky one since I was in junior high. My family was really really involved in a church (that we basically helped build from day 1) and we were burnt by the pastor and a few other key families (long-complicated story). Anyways we had to leave the congregation. Since then my family has been pretty broken in terms of faith. My mom still goes to church regularly and is a really down-home Lutheran. But my Dad sort of signed-off Christianity. I think he truly still believes but he wouldn’t say it like that and he definitely doesn’t go to church anymore.

    I think this was really confusing to me because I was old enough to know & understand most of what was going on but not old enough to push through and continue on my own journey with God so I kind of plateaued in my faith when I was 13 years old.

    I do my own thing when it comes to Christianity. I do bible studies on my own and I read the bible but I don’t belong to a church congregation. I think we feel so safe at church and we trust people there because that’s how it should be… safe. But being burnt at church, when your so open and exposed really effects us and it really effected me. I have a really hard time being open and outgoing in church-situations.

    Anyways what I really wanted to say was I think about how to pray a lot it’s really hard. Sometimes I just don’t know what to say when I don’t need to ask for something. I think prayer is so important to our relationship with God, I could definitely be better at it.

  4. oh Corrie Anne. You know how much i love this. Prayer is easier than we think. All we need to do is start talking. Anywhere, anytime! God is omipresent, and i think that’s why i love him so. Never leaving our side. Love your book recommendations! I think Jesus calling is another good one!

  5. Alysha @Shesontherun

    I’ve been praying for years and years. I’m not super religious, but I am spiritual. I prayed to god before my half marathon to make sure things would go well :) I also pray to my grandpa who pasted away over 6 years ago. I feel like she can hear me too.

  6. This is absolutely amazing and is almost making me cry because I love it so much! I was JUST thinking this morning on the way to work (which is the time when I pray. Commute = excellent opportunity to talk to God), and I was thinking about whether my prayers were “adequate.” I think you found the key, which is about talking to God and growing with him, and that’s what prayer is. I also feel you on the long prayers — my dad is a very long prayer (because he is an amazingly faithful person) and when I was little, I got annoyed. Now that I’m older, I love it!

  7. Truly wonderful post! ….Praying is all about knowing Him!- I feel like sometimes I do the impersonal thing too. Not on propose but out of feeling guilty for completely pouring out my heart to Him (which is ridiculous, he knows everything) and rather focusing on the needs of others or thanking him for the blessings in my life…… It’s wonderful to have a friend in Him, isn’t it!

  8. This is just what I needed to read. I’ve been really struggling with my prayer life (or lack thereof) as of lately. I realize I need to be in constant dialogue with Christ – I need to make more of an effort to be dependent on him for my needs as opposed to taking everything into my own hands. I’m reading a book called ‘Gospel’ by JD Greear and it is really opening up my eyes to how we’re called to live. Thanks again for the post!

  9. This post is amazing, and I feel like I read this at a perfect time in my life. I have been thinking long and hard about finding a better relationship with God, and this post just gave me a push in the right direction. I am so guilty of praying only when I “need” something. The analogy of you only asking Kevin for help when you need something really puts the prayer into light. Thank you for writing this, I loved every last word!

  10. Our church is hosting an inservice titled..”GAP” …God Answers Prayers…and how to pray/deepen our relationship with our prayers…I wasnt’ going to go b/c I figured I had a good relationship with God and my prayers but now you have me thinking…should I?

    However, on that note I do think God wants us to pray daily so we remember him daily and thank him for what he has given us, done for us, and continues to do in our lives….he brings us to it and he will bring us through it. ;-)

    I liked the post too…

  11. Love this post! I have often contemplated these same questions! What is the purpose/point of prayer if God knows already…which of course He does. Its the conversation aspect. And I think that is even more beautiful. Something to constantly work on. Thank you for posting and very well written if I do say so!!

  12. Lauren K

    Oh Corrie,
    You’re so sweet. I LOVED this post :) I love that Jesus is teaching you dependance on Him through prayer. I’m going through a very similar lesson now too. Remembering that He knows my heart, but more than that desires intimate relationship with me and is DELIGHTED to see me come to Him. What a blessing to know he loves us just as we are but so much that he challenges us so that we grow to look more like Jesus. I love you gir, and miss you. Come visit Seattle anytime and you two lovebirds can stay with us two lovebirds :)

  13. Excellent post, Corr! I too have been convicted about prayer lately, especially as I read through “A Praying Life” by Paul Miller. Truly convicting and mind-blowing. It has really helped me converse with God throughout the day more, which I think I needed. Check it out when you have time – it’s worth the read! (And most of the chapters are short, which certainly helps!!)

  14. I have to tell you . . . I really, truly enjoyed reading this post. You explained and described things so well.

    I believe that everyone has to find their most meaningful way to pray and stay in communication with their beliefs and faith. And personally, I’m still on that journey. It has changed so dramatically over the years . . . from what I did and thought as a kid, teenager, young adult, single adult and now newly married. I’m guessing it will continue to be a work in progress as I grow, learn and reflect on life and it’s meaning.

  15. wow this is so beautiful. for so long I thought I was doing ‘prayer’ wrong. that sounds terrible but I forgot the part of personal faith and got caught up in feeling inadequate. in the end it is about your personal relationship to God, the moments that are not planned out. Beautiful post, seriously

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