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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
- Christian Beliefs by Wayne Grudem. I am loving this book! I’ve read some of his longer ones, but this one is so clearly explained and succinct!
- Speaking with God – A short sermon by Bill Mounce on the topic.
- How to Begin a Relationship with God – A clear explanation.
- She Reads Truth <— A great, totally nonthreatening first step to start getting into God’s Word.
- As Close – Related song that popped into my head by Rachel Chan
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.