Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Significance of Prayer

Prayer is talking to God. Prayer is also listening to God.

It is often the most neglected of privileges that a Christian has in his or her arsenal. But, when used properly, it is a mighty weapon. The God who listens is a God that can move mountains, a God who can change hearts, a God that can rearrange circumstances and overthrow tremendous obstacles. He is the God of the impossible, and many times our vision of who God is and what He can do is often way too small, and this is reflected in the amount of time we may spend in prayer.

It is true that God is sometimes less concerned with changing our circumstances and is more concerned with changing the heart and mind and perspective of the person praying. As someone has said, “Prayer doesn’t change God, prayer changes me.”

And if that is true then it is also true that the person who is most resistant to change and is satisfied in being self-sufficient and self made is probably a person who isn’t praying at all. When we become content with who we are (in terms of thinking we've "arrived" spiritually and are done with the need to grow), then prayer will seem irrelevant.

So when we bow our heads to pray then, we acknowledge several things. First we acknowledge our willingness to change. We also acknowledge a proper assessment of ourselves and our need for God.

But perhaps more importantly, when we bow to pray we acknowledge the Supremacy and Sovereignty of the Almighty God who grants us every breath and who holds our life utterly and completely in the palm of His hands. Prayer is a statement that says that God’s glory and His plans are far more important and necessary to know and experience than anything else. And prayer is often the way we come to know those things.

When you pray, be bold. Be specific. Don’t be afraid or intimidated by silence, and let the Holy Spirit bring to mind the things that need to be lifted up. Pray according to the truths that are revealed in Scripture. Pray with your heart and with your mind. Be willing to put your opinions before God so that He might change them or perhaps refine them. Pray with expectancy and pray with faith.

If you pray this way, then it is more likely that you will learn to pray more in keeping with God’s will. As someone has said, no one out on a boat in the water throws a rope onto a dock and expects the dock to be pulled out to him. Instead, the goal is to pull the boat to the dock. And in the same way, when we pray to God, we shouldn’t expect that God would be pulled more towards our will, but rather that our will is pulled over toward God’s.

So pray with joy, knowing that God is good, and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.


Anonymous said...

This is really helpful. I think that prayer today is a lost art. In Sunday School a child is always taught these acronyms, such as A.C.T.S. (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication) However, all I ever learned through these little remedies was to talk, talk, and talk some more. Never to be silent. Never to listen. Through a Bible study, I learned to listen to the silence. I still find it hard to decipher between the thoughts in my head and God's voice. I mean, writing on the wall or a burning bush might make that a little easier, but I'll take what I can get. I guess I just need to listen more. Practice makes perfect, right?
- Christina Patterson

Pastor Eric said...

Excellent insights Christina. I can relate so much to what you are saying. One thing I do when I'm silent and thoughts come into my head or whenever a mini conversation takes place is to test every thought by what I know to be true about God and to also see if it is in keeping with the Spirit in Scripture. If there are no red flags that come to mind then I would think that perhaps there is something in such thoughts that God wants me to discern and consider. If you keep praying and these idea continue to surface and it seems right, then I would consider them as thoughts from the Lord. Always remember, God delights in showing His will, and He wants us in it more than we really want to be in it.