16 Nov The Importance of Prayer
When I first started following Jesus, I didn’t really understand prayer. I didn’t understand why people would talk about the importance of it and I didn’t understand why I should do it. To be honest, my prayers were selfish (if I prayed) and I felt discouraged when I didn’t see them answered. I completely missed the point of prayer. I prayed for God to give me what I wanted – my acne to go away, and materialistic items and I never prayed for other people. I quickly learned Jesus is not a magic genie. He doesn’t grant wishes.
Prayer is our time to talk with our Father. We can talk to him anytime, anywhere, and about anything! He is a good Father and He wants to hear from his children!
After some time of being a new Believer, I hit a breaking point with prayer. I started asking God to align my heart with His heart. It was clear that what I was praying for chased after my own heart and desires instead of chasing after God’s. After praying that specific prayer and having faith God would answer it, prayer started to be something I wanted to do. I thought prayer would change God’s heart about what I wanted but really as I prayed it changed my heart – to be closer to Him.
Not sure what to pray or how to pray?
1. Pray expectantly.
Pray like you know God is listening to you, because He is. Pray like you believe God will give you an answer. God does answer your prayers, it just may not be in the way you wanted. Although it may not be the answer you want, God’s ways are higher and greater so we can trust the answer is the right one. 1 Thessalonians 5:16 tells us to “pray without ceasing”. Be a squeaky wheel. God hears you, He sees you and He cares about you more than you could ever imagine.
2. Pray Specifically
If you pray a vague prayer, how do you know if God answered? “I pray to have a good day.” What does “good” mean? Pray specifically because God answers specifically. He is an intentional God. This past year I started journaling my prayers. There were a few prayers this past year that I specifically prayed about and journaled. About a month ago I looked back to see God had answered those prayers.
3. Fix Your Mind on Things Above
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8
The last thing the enemy wants is for you to be filled with God’s truth. Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44).
If you’re struggling with believing God’s truth, write down the lies then write down the Truth from the Bible. I do this regularly when I feel anxious or not enough. I write down the lies circling my mind that are from the enemy and next to it I find Scripture and I write down who God says I am and what God promises.
4. Pray When Life is Great and Pray When Life is Not
God is fighting for us, always. God wants to hear from us all the time. Of course, he wants to know when we are sad, mad, or struggling but he also wants to walk with us in the good, fun, and exciting. It’s easier for me to pray when life is hard. Usually, hard life situations bring me closer to God. When life is great and we feel independent as if we know what we are doing, it is harder to run to the Father.
In Luke 17:11-19, Jesus heals ten men with leprosy. Out of the ten men, only one man returned to give thanks and praise God. I know I’m not the only one who has struggled with this. Celebrating an answered prayer and never including God in the celebration of what He has done.
5. What to Pray When You Don’t Know What to Say
Psalms are amazing to pray when you don’t have the words. David is known as a man chasing after God’s heart. He is real with God and it is obvious his heart is calling out to God.
There are also four themes of prayer you can pray or journal, Praise God (Psalm 34:1), Forgiveness (1 John 1:9), Thankfulness (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18), and Request (Philippians 4:6). Give God praise, He is Holy and Good and He deserves our endless praise. Ask for forgiveness, we all fall short because we are human and we are not perfect. Give thanks, God is working in your life. If you can’t see it, think about the breath in your lungs, your ability to move, and the things that surround you that God has blessed you with. Give all your requests to God, no matter how big or how small. God already knows what is on your heart, He is just waiting for you to tell Him.
Don’t forget to pray boldly. I recently read The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson and it has increased my prayer life. Batterson states “Bold prayers honor God and God honors bold prayers”. Pray boldly and have faith God will show up. Our God is so big He can handle all of our emotions and requests. God is not asking for you to be a more polished or put-together version of yourself, God is asking you to come to Him as you are.