Do you pray? I ask because it’s as important as anything else we do in our relationship with God.
Prayer, as a practice, is inherently built into all of the remaining disciplines (practices!) in our study book, Enjoying Jesus. The practice of prayer is literally woven into everything we do when it comes to our spiritual life because basically, at the core of it, prayer is any form of communication with God. That’s the basic definition of it: prayer = talking with God about what we are doing, feeling, experiencing, hoping for, not hoping for, etc.
Just kidding. I have a bit more to say on the subject… 😉
First, let’s agree that prayer is different than “wishing” because prayer is more than just asking for something. If all we are doing with our prayer life is asking for things, then we are simply creating a wish list and treating God like Santa Claus. Don’t get me wrong. He wants us to share our desires and our needs with Him; of course He does! And those prayers of petition (a.k.a. asking for the things we need) are a vital and healthy part of prayer. But they are just one of many different kinds of prayer in which we can engage.
Here’s what prayer really is, sister friends. This is what author John Orberg says and I LOVE IT: “Among all the other work prayer does, prayer is most importantly the knitting together of the human heart with the heart of God.”
Our hearts woven together with His. SWOON!!!!
We, as Christians, have a real-life relationship with a real-life God. There’s really no other way to say it. So let me say it again, girls: We are in a relationship with God. Even more than that, and I know it sounds weird and maybe a little awkward to say this, but we are in a love relationship with Him. I’m not talking romantic love. But I am talking this crazy kind of love that doesn’t exist anywhere else.
Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. Psalm 139:7-10
That’s some pretty big love right there. And this love of His is all encompassing because we can’t get away from it!
(Ahem…The Runaway Bunny, anyone??!! I cry even looking at the cover of that one!)
SO MUCH LOVE!!!
“Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them and we will come to them and make our home with them.” John 14:23, NIV
That phrase there: “make our home”? That’s translated from a Greek phrase that means to “pitch a tent”. So, in Jesus’ own words, through our obedience, through our hearing of His words, He chooses to make space in each of our individual “worlds” and pop a squat.
And He’s not going anywhere. Regardless of how our world is spinning, how messy it gets, and even if we choose to ignore the tepee He pitched in the middle of it all. He’s saying, “I’m not going anywhere, girl. So come closer, have a seat, and let’s talk.”
He’s not asking for long, drawn out rehearsed prayers. But hey, if that’s your thing, go for it. However, if you just want to say, “This day stinks.” That’s cool with Him, too. If you want to say, “That is the prettiest sunset I’ve ever seen.” He’ll sit back and watch it with you. No matter how big or small your thoughts seem to you, He wants to hear about it and share IN it with you.
Girls, if it matters to you, it matters to God. Big, small, or somewhere in between.
Let me say that again: If it matters to you, it matters to God.
Prayer is our way of getting thoughts up and out so we can make space for what He has to say about it in return. And trust me. You’re gonna want to know what He thinks.
Prayer can be done in many different ways. We have traditional, memorized prayers that have been passed down to us through our families and churches. These are things like grace before a meal, versions of creeds we say at church, the Our Father/Lord’s Prayer, the Hail Mary and rosary sequences. These are prayers because they are words we speak to God. It’s okay that we’ve been taught and possibly even memorized them – as long as we remember they have MEANING.
We also have prayers from the heart, spoken within our own private space. These prayers can take the form of worship (telling God how great we believe He is); petition (asking for things we need spiritually and otherwise); intercession (praying for the needs of others); thanksgiving and gratitude (thanking God for providing for our needs and for the good things that happen to ourselves and others), and praise (answered prayer, expression of our love for God, etc.). We even have laments, which are passionate prayers expressing our pain and disappointment, these prayers are “real talk” about our honest feelings of our current situations and circumstances.
Next week, we’ll talk about practical ideas on incorporating prayer into your life “for reals”. We will also talk about how to deal with it when prayer answers are delayed or answered in a way we didn’t expect.
Between now and then, though, I want you to take some time and try writing 5-6 prayers of your own:
- Prayer of worship (praising God for His goodness – check out Psalms 103-107 for some awesome thoughts on the greatness of God)
- Prayer of petition (asking for something you personally need)
- Prayer of intercession (praying for the needs of someone else)
- Prayer of thanksgiving (gratitude for something great that day you didn’t expect or even think to pray about)
- Prayer of Praise (answered prayer, expression of your love for God)
- Prayer of Lament (honest feelings of pain and disappointment – even if directed at God – He can take it, girls.)
All of the prayers you record can be ones we’ve been taught or memorized, or they can be of our own wording, or even a combo of both. No prayer is a wrong prayer because God wants us communicating with Him. Why? Because His love, His grace, and His mercy meet us (AND CHANGE US) when we pray.
This week, let’s add another intention to our list! Last week, we started our intentions with, “Lord help me hear you today.” How about we add this one for our current week: “Jesus, thank you for loving me.” It’s almost like we are building ourselves a perfect prayer, isn’t it? Sounds like a pretty good idea, right?! 😉
Take some time this week to check out our song for this week called Hills and Valleys by Tauren Wells! It’s my “go to” anthem on “those days”…!
See you back here next week as we finish up our discussion and practice of prayer!
May peace find you fully today!