Updated: Apr 28, 2020
“Will you please let him ask me out." "Lord I pray that she's not pregnant." "Lord I pray that I'm not pregnant." " God please help me get a promotion.” “Please help me to buy that car.” God give me another job because this one sucks.”
If God granted all of our prayers what would our lives look like? Would we just have more money? Family members still living? The perfect job? A smoking hot spouse? Would we be Taller? Prettier? Handsomer? Smarter? Loved by everyone?
There’s so much scripture on prayer, yet we rarely pray - and when we do we pray, we treat it like room service. I am guilty of this as well, so I decided to try to change this. Here are a few takeaways from God's word regarding prayer:
1. The sole purpose of prayer is not to change your circumstances
Oftentimes we treat prayer like wishes and God like a genie. Our prayers are shortsighted, but prayer is an opportunity to release the pressure of being in control of circumstances we can’t control anyway.
I had an interestingly convicting conversation in a VIP section with one of my teammates one evening after one of our games. He wanted to know the purpose of praying before a game, and how it worked out. After all, there are Christians on both sides, and they are all praying for a win. Before I could answer he said “ what do you pray about before a game, or what does a prayer before a game look like?” I told him that I was embarrassed because the majority of my prayers sound like “God grant me success.. Let me score a touchdown. Let us win. Let me dominate.”
I....... I....... I......
We won that day, but when I think about my pregame prayers, it revealed to me a very hard truth that: oftentimes we treat prayer like wishes and God like a genie. Our prayers are shortsighted, but prayer is an opportunity to release the pressure of being in control of circumstances we cannot control anyway. Like I said, we won that day, meaning my prayer was answered. But that is oftentimes not the case.
That’s okay, and this is why: the purpose of prayer is to release us of that burden, not just for us to get what we are asking for. We know this to be true from the story of Jesus being tempted in the Garden by the devil. Before Jesus was crucified you know what he did? He prayed. The ironic thing about the story in the garden is that God in the flesh had the power to change his own situation. He could have taken the out. He didn’t have to die for us. He didn’t have to go through what he went through. Yet at the very same time, he did have to die for us. He knew that there was something unique about his situation, that what he was going through had a purpose greater than his comfort.
None of us are distant cousins from hardship. It is not a matter of if trials will come, it is a matter of when trials will come. And all times, and especially in these times:
2. It is impossible to over exaggerate the importance of prayer
Prayer is as essential to our spiritual lives as air is to our physical lives.
In my personal life, I have struggled and suffered from symptoms of what many medical professionals would diagnose as depression. My decision to not receive treatment is based upon my research and arrival of the conclusion that regardless of what I may do. There will always be this festering, restless, inward groaning as my spirit eagerly awaits “adoption” or “redemption.” The reason being, as Christians, this earth is only a temporary home for us. Furthermore, trying to get a grasp or understanding of my thoughts, feelings, and emotions has been my most challenging task to this day. Depression-like symptoms may not be an issue for you, but for the battlefield of our minds- constantly changing thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Prayer is our best defense.
Now onto the reason why you are here:
3. HOW DO YOU PRAY?
(There is no formula for prayer, you just do it!)
For my Type-A readers, one of the things that has helped me appreciate the privilege of being able to pray, is the fact that I am praying to a caring, loving Father. Through this process, I begin to reverse a lifelong habit I had built up of putting my faith in a corner and only calling on God when I needed him is the ACTS method. Most people may feel that this method is too elaborate and drawn out. However, each area of prayer is linked to another one in some form or fashion. What this acronym simply stands for is
Similar to the way that we communicate with others in relationship. You cannot just always expect things to be done for you without ever showing your appreciation. That is what taking something for granted looks like. Instead of getting to rubbing your hands on the magic lamp or getting straight to what can God do for me? Adoration is where the releasing the pressure part comes in. When we go to God with serious petitions. Adoration gives us the freedom to realize we don’t have to stress, fret, or worry about the outcome.
Usually the first reason many of us come to God in prayer. This is the part where we ask God for forgiveness for a particular area of our lives. Sometimes we are unaware of how sinful we are, and so this is also a good time to ask God to forgive us for the sins we have committed unknowingly as well. This is important, because as we confess our sins to God. We give ourselves the freedom to remove the guilt and shame that comes from having “dirty diapers” as we make a decision to move forward and turn from our ways.
But one of the things I have learned about growing in your relationship with God and in your relationships with others. Is that more often than not, you may not feel like talking, but you do it anyways. As that is what relationship is all about. Regardless of how you feel. You communicate. Because all successful relationships require communication.
This is the most used part of prayer. For most, if not all of us. When most people hear the word prayer, the picture that they have in mind is that of supplication. Supplication is the act of asking or begging for something humbly. Now begging has a negative connotation. But when we pour our hearts out to God. It actually is an act of beauty. Because in supplication and making our requests known to Him, we are placing our trust in him. We are acknowledging the fact that the power to change something is beyond our control.
Altogether, Prayer is about relationship with God. So supplication works best when it coexists with the other parts of the ACTS method. Now, be advised that there are times where we may just ask God for things in the spur of the moment. But we should never let our prayers get to the point where our communication with God is limited to that of a butler and the owner of a house.
If you felt convicted because some of those prayers from earlier belonged to you. Don’t sweat it, most if not ALL of them belonged to me at some point in my life. I still have to check my heart and sometimes it takes me two or three takes to successfully complete a prayer. Other times, I get distracted or start to fall asleep if my eyes are closed for too long. That is, if I’m praying at all. But one of the things I have learned about growing in your relationship with God and in your relationships with others. Is that more often than not, you may not feel like talking, but you do it anyways. As that is what relationship is all about. Regardless of how you feel. You communicate. All successful relationships require communication, even the one with your Heavenly Father.