I started thinking about my prayer life the other day and I have to admit I was a bit startled by how self-centered it was. I pray to get things. Here is what got me thinking, if I pray for things or for God to make my life better, then my happiness must reside in those things.
I write a lot in my blogs about knowing Jesus (Gal. 4:8) instead of just knowing about Jesus. In my prayers I don’t practice what I preach because they are not about knowing God passionately but instead about my own wants and desires. I somehow have turned prayer from a God centered encounter into a “please give me stuff” list of my wants. Don’t get me wrong praying for the salvation of friends, relatives and ISIS members is good and an important aspect of any prayer life, but it shouldn’t be our prayer life.
I also don’t want anyone feeling guilty about his or her prayer life, as that is not my intention in the least. I’m just trying to come to gripes with the idea that the basis of prayer is to know God better. I’m trying to be honest with myself and since this blog is about being honest to a great extent, I’m simply sharing my journey.
Prayer is our response to the Bible and the word of God that flows from the Bible through the Holy Spirit to our heart. When we allow the Spirit to open our hearts to the wonder of the Gospel something inside of us changes. We want to praise and worship God.
Last Tuesday and Wednesday evenings when studying the Bible with good friends, over and over I just wanted to stop reading and just start praising God. The Holy Spirit was speaking powerfully to us and convicting us of the wonder and marvel of the cross. We were so thankful and awed by the sacrifice and love that was poured out for us that our hearts wanted to burst with happiness.
This is the stuff from which prayer springs forth. It is when we are absorbed in the word that the Spirit takes hold of our hearts and fills them with awe and thankfulness. The result is that we long to communicate with such an awesome God who loves us to such a great extent. This is where prayer becomes prayer. With the wonder of the Word of God in our hearts and on our minds we kneel before Him and pour out our hearts in thanksgivings and awe for such graciousness
These kinds of prayers are not contrived, they are prayers in which confession, the seeking of forgiveness, and praise come tumbling out of us in thanksgiving and wonder.
Timothy Keller hits the nail on the head when he writes, “We know God is there, but we tend to see Him as a means through which we get things to make us happy. For most of us, He has not become our happiness.” Prayer p. 78
Isn’t that the truth? What would our relationship with God be like if we honestly grasped the reality that prayer is conversation with the Being that loves us the most in the whole wide Universe. I believe it would change everything.
My father and I spoke every day for twenty years. I could probably count on both hands the number of days we missed. I would be going about my work and suddenly it would pop into my head that I hadn’t heard from my father so I would phone him up, but most days I didn’t have to do that because He seldom didn’t phone.
I loved talking to my father because I knew He loved me unconditionally. I sensed how happy he was to hear from me and hear about the kids and what was going on in my life. The last thing in the world I wanted to do was start giving dad long lists of things I wanted or spend my time complaining about how I felt slighted by him because I didn’t get something.
I talked every day to my dad because I loved him and he loved me. We had a relationship and each of us found joy in our discussions. How much more is payer a discussion with our heavenly Father?
You and I can have that amazing intimate dialogue with God because Jesus has opened the door into the very heart of God through Calvary. His death broke down the barrier of our sin that stood between the Father and us.
“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:14-16
The Father’s heart is flung wide open to us because we are friends of His Son. Jesus is the introduction into the heart of God and because of His love for the Son. His love is poured out to us who the Son loves. Please never think that somehow God needs us because He wants people to love Him. We were created so that He could love us.
Come to the Father in prayer knowing Jesus the great High Priest has opened the door to the Father’s heart and we are welcome. Come to the Father with confidence knowing that we shall receive mercy and grace. Come to the Father freely confessing our sins, knowing we are forgiven and loved. As a result we come to the Father in worship and adoration praising His name and rejoicing in His goodness towards us.
Prayer is so much more than a checklist of wants and needs (though those are important and shouldn’t be neglected in prayer), it is instead our opportunity to praise and thank God for covering us in His love.
* Folks, the persecution of Christians has not stopped. If anything it’s increased. The main stream media doesn’t talk about it much anymore but that doesn’t mean it’s not happening. Pray and stay informed and inform others. Please take the time to read some of their stories at http://thebeggardanced.com/nine-oclock-club/ there is much more on the internet…