We know we’re supposed to. We are told it’s important, even vital. We are promised if enough people would do it, things would happen.
Don’t you want to see things happen?
Good things. Powerful things. GOD things.
While it is true, undeniably true, that prayer is vital to the Christian’s life, and while it is powerfully true that God moves mightily in response to the prayers of His people, frequently I am impressed that we are not thinking rightly about prayer. I know that I get it wrong… a lot. And I suspect that others do as well.
While I rejoice at the clarion calls in many Christian circles to return to God in prayer, I sometimes feel like that great sage, Inigo Montoya, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you thing it means.”
What I mean is this:
As I reflect on my journey in prayer, I suppose I started where many others started; I wanted to see God move. I wanted to see Him honored in my ministerial efforts. I hoped He would bless my work so that I might bear fruit to the glory of His name. None of this is bad. I purposefully did not skew the language to caricature my early prayers as selfish, prideful, man-centered attempts to get noble work done for the Lord. The truth is I was praying appropriate prayers, many of them I still pray today. The problem is not that these prayers are bad prayers but they are bad starting points.
Prayer is not a gimmick; it is not a program or church-growth strategy. It is not the formula for great awakening or revival.
Prayer is just an action. It’s something to do.
The real issue is why we do it. The real power is in the God who hears… and He is not so much listening as He is watching.
“For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him.” (2 Chronicles 16:9, ESV)
Prayer is to be first and foremost, relational. I pray not because I want something, but because I want someone. I am, above all else, hungry for Him.
I used to pray to get His blessings or to ask His favor, but now (as I’m learning) I pray because I long to know Him and be like Him.
I used to pray because I wanted Him to bless what I did for Him, but now I am learning that I need to pray because I can do nothing for Him (John 15:5).
I don’t pray so that the Lord will heal my land; I pray that He will heal my heart, rescuing me from sin, pride, and temptation.
I don’t pray because I am strong and smart, but because I see the ever-increasing reality of my weakness and foolishness.
I pray because I am desperate to know Him and what pleases Him.
I can and still pray for many other things: safety for family and friends, healing for the hurting, fruit in ministry, the renewal of my church and revival in my world. But all these prayers are beginning to flow out of my desperation to know Him, to see Him, and to serve Him. When all is said and done, I want my desire to be His kingdom come and His will be done. No matter what it costs, or what it looks like, or how I get there.
So, I pray.