If you would sit around my family’s table you would know that one of our favorite conversation topics is about living Jesus in our daily rhythms of life. And if you know me at all, you know that I always emphasize the importance of praying with Scriptures––or, in other words, praying God’s promises. So, yet again, I thought we could talk about prayer.
PRAY! Oh, that sounds so simplistic and basic, doesn’t it? Ever-so-many books have been written that teach us to pray. A “zillion” sermons have laid out for us the techniques of prayer. But when it comes to actually praying, when we are broken and hurting a lot, when our lives need to be rebuilt… effective prayer becomes key in determining a desirable outcome. Prayer is foundational to our human existence.
I need to open a parenthesis here because my grandson just nicely interrupted me with a question:
“Vovó, (grandma in Portuguese) are you writing about prayer?” When I affirmatively answered him, he asked me to wait for a moment so he could bring me his Bible. He asked me to tell you that you should not pray not like the “Extra-Super-Holy People,” which is an excerpt from The Jesus Story Book Bible on “How To Pray.”
There, now that he feels happy and accomplished for his contribution let me continue with the first, and perhaps greatest, truth I’ve learned regarding prayer.
Prayer is NOT something we merely do; it is something WE ARE.
What breathing is to our physical health, prayer is to our spiritual and
psychological health. It’s our emotional lifeline and our spiritual breath.
We truly will spiritually flat-line without prayer!
The second greatest truth I’ve learned about prayer is that prayer is relationship-based. The purpose of prayer is relationship, not answers.
The third greatest truth I’ve learned about prayer is that prayer is communication, conversing, talking, interfacing. God wants us to honestly articulate our needs. I strongly believe, and there are plenty of studies proving, that prayer has therapeutic value. Prayer gives us permission to put into words exactly what is troubling us, and in doing so, moves us towards resolution and healing. We tell God what is in our heart and mind, explain the situation and what is bothering us, how we feel and why. And strangely, often by the time we are finished, we know what we need to do, or, at least, have become confident that God is with us in the situation. God won’t abandon us in our problem/situation but will bring redemptive good out of it. It’s written. It’s His promise to us.
There is no formula to prayer. There are no rituals. There is no lexicon of correct and incorrect vocabulary. PRAY! – communicate with your Heavenly Father and articulate your needs to Him.
The fourth greatest truth I’ve learned about prayer is that we are to pray what Scripture says. Therefore, use Scripture in your prayers.
The psalmist teaches us that “God’s promises are backed by all the honor of God’s name. When we pray, God answers us and encourages us by giving us the strength we need.” (Psalm 138:2 - Living)
My life is lived believing the words found in II Corinthians 3:5 –– “Not that I am sufficient (adequate) to do anything by myself, but my sufficiency comes from You…” I prayed this verse as a young woman – so frightened as I began a teaching career – and I continue to pray it now as a “mature” woman who still needs and totally depends on God’s adequacy.
Frame your prayers in the Holy Scriptures. —Let God’s Word Generate Your Prayers.
The fifth greatest truth I’ve learned about prayer is that prayer is “holy loitering.” (Brennan Manning)
Isn’t it a fact that we become like those with whom we spend the most time? We begin to take on their character, their ways, their philosophy, their lifestyle, their likes and dislikes. Haven't you heard people say that Mr. and Mrs. White have been married so long they have begun to look like each other? We become like those with whom we “loiter,” with whom we spend the most time. Can you imagine how the crumbled walls surrounding our souls would be rebuilt if we spent time in “holy loitering?”
How shallow our prayer life become if it’s only one-sided, if we’re doing all the talking! Can you imagine what we might be missing by not loitering with our Heavenly Father?!
… God may want to simply love on us;
… He may want to affirm us and tell us He delights in us;
… He may want to brag on us and tell us He thinks we’re doing a good job;… He may want to give us discernment, instruction, or warning;
… Or, He may want to "tweak," readjust, alter, even ask us to abandon our request by helping us understand our situation from His perspective.
So in summation, it is time to PRAY! PRAY! and PRAY!