Thursday, June 3, 2010

On Prayer

"I'll pray for you."

"You're in my prayers."

"I'm praying."

How often do we hear these words from others as they offer comfort to us in trying time in our lives? How often do we say these words to others? How often is there REALLY any prayer going on at all?

I know at least a few times in life I have told someone I would pray for them, and got too busy. There are times that I have received emails from our church prayer chain, read them, but never prayed. I am sure there are times when I trusted in someone to pray for me, and they didn't. Could there have been a miracle had someone prayed?

But the more I reflect on this, I wonder, is there more to it than just "making our requests known to God"? Is prayer time really only about checking off a list of people you promised to pray for, if you even remember to do so in the first place?

The past week I have learned a few things about prayer, mostly through experience and revelation FROM praying. The more I pray, the more I really understand what it is. I am assuming this is what is known as wisdom as I am learning by gleaning from the scripture and by experiencing God firsthand. The following is a few tidbits from my revelation about prayer.

Prayer is POWER.
Trying to minister to others without prayer is like a flashlight without batteries. I might have all the other necessary components for the flashlight to work. I might be following the instruction manual to a T. I could be doing everything else right, but no matter how hard I try, that flashlight won't give off one smidgen of light without batteries. Prayer is the batteries to my ministry. Without it there can be no power flowing, no light shining in the darkness. I will be completely ineffective. Yes, OTHER people can pray for my ministry, but the way to have maximum effect is if I pray.

Prayer is a KEY.
If I want to access miracles of God, I must use prayer as my key. Prayer is what binds and looses. Prayer is what commands angels. Prayer is what channels the power of God. In order to see miracles happen, I need to be praying for them to happen, not just standing around hoping one will accidentally fall upon me.

Prayer is for GOD'S glory.
I should not ever be praying for circumstances to change or miracles to happen for my own selfish reasons. I shouldn't pray for other's salvation just to save them from going to hell. I shouldn't pray for people to be free from cancer just so they aren't in pain. I shouldn't pray for anything to make my life easier, better, or more fun. My only motive for prayer is to bring God glory. People get saved to bring him glory. People get healed to bring him glory. People's lives change to bring God glory. If I'm not seeing my prayers answered, my motives are probably wrong. Only God knows my heart, so sometimes I need to ask him to reveal to me what my true motives are. Many times it is as easy as looking at my attitude. If I am frustrated and angry with God, chances are my motives are selfish. If I am excited about giving a testimony of the miracles he has done, chances are my motive is to bring him glory, regardless of if my prayer is answered or not. When I pray out of a right heart, that is when I can expect to see God move in big ways.

Prayer is an INVESTMENT.
Just like any investment, the more I put into it, the more I can expect to receive back. If I glance through a spanish dictionary for 15 minutes, I can't expect to go to a Spanish speaking country and have a meaningful conversation with the natives. If I work out once a month, I can't expect to look like a super model. If I put a penny into my bank account, I cant expect to go the next day and pull out a thousand dollars. Prayer works the same way. Yes God knows all my needs and I don't need to go begging him over and over for the same thing. However, if I spend next to no time in prayer, how can I expect God to be doing miracles in my life? If prayer is the key to accessing things of heaven, the more I use the key, the more I gain, and vice versa.

Prayer is SELFLESS.
Seek first the kingdom of God and all these things will be added onto you. If in prayer I seek only my needs, God's blessings can't fall on me the same way as when I seek his kingdom first. If I need a healing, I should pray for others to be healed. I should do what God calls me to do, maybe to send that person flowers, or call or visit them. This brings God glory because not only can he answer my prayers for the other person, but then he can "add all these things" onto me as well. I need to go into prayer time looking for what I can give to God and his kingdom, not what I can gain from him. Approaching God in that way opens the door for us to receive his blessings.

Imagine this, you have met the most wonderful person, the one of your dreams. You decide to make it official and you become a couple. However, things get weird after that. The person sends you gifts, pays all your bills, and makes sure you are well taken care of, but you never hear from them again. They never call you or want to see you, kind of like a dead-beat dad. You know they are still there because of the stuff they send, but there is no relationship at all. You might begin to wonder if they really love you since they don't want to be around you. You might begin to despise the gifts and provision because they seem so cold and meaningless. In real life, this seems like a miserable relationship, however, this is exactly what people expect from God. "God, provide for me, bless me, give me gifts, but please don't ever talk to me or meet with me." Not only does that attitude hurt us, it must hurt God as well. Imagine being the one giving the gifts, sending the money, blessing your love interest, and yet they want nothing at all to do with you. Eventually you would decide to stop sending gifts. However, God isn't like that. He will provide for me and bless me even if I never talk to him, even if I am ungrateful, because he loves me so much. He isn't offended by my actions, he loves me in spite of them. Out of anyone I can have a relationship with, God is the best. He has endless assets to supply my every need. He is perfect in every way and cannot let me down. I should nurture my relationship with him first and foremost, above all others. By spending time with him, I can enjoy all the benefits of our relationship, not just the blessings he gives.

Prayer is a PRIVILEGE.
Many times prayer is seen as something we HAVE to do in order to be a good Christian. However, prayer is really a privilege. I pray because I desire to hear God's voice, to understand his heart, to know his will. I am not praying just to earn God's favor or to check something off a hidden to do list. I already HAVE God's favor. I am not required to DO anything. God loves me for who I am, and I pray because I love him back and just want to be in his presence. I'm not required to pray, I desire to pray.

Prayer is a PRIORITY.
Prayer is more important than anything I have to do in my day. Many times, when I put prayer first, I see God do amazing things throughout my day. He will supernaturally extend my time, increase my efforts, and make everything work together more smoothly. I find when I pray first, I accomplish more and have more peace. I also find my attitude is in the right place and it is easier to walk in the spirit when I start my day immersed in it. God is able to do a transforming work in me as the day goes by because I have invited him into my day. On the flip side, I find I struggle more when I don't make prayer a priority. It seems my entire day has fallen apart at the seams and I am desperate to keep it together. Often in the midst of my trouble I will make time to seek God and afterword things will smooth out for me. Since prayer is such a valuable amenity, it should be my greatest priority.

I am finding that the more I pray, the more I learn about prayer and the more I want to pray. I come to know God better and then seek to know more. The only way to really understand the value of prayer and have the desire to pray is to first commit to pray. Afterword, the desire comes naturally. Just like exercising and eating healthy, a lot of times the hardest part is to commit to make the change. Once we do, we find we feel better and look better, and then it is easy to continue on in that lifestyle. When we commit to pray, we feel and see the benefits of spending time with our wonderful Father, and we only want more and more of it.

I am so glad I made the commitment to give God my time, it is SO worth it.


Tracy:D said...

You wrote, "I am assuming this is what is known as wisdom..."

This made me smile when I read it, thinking how cute it was for you to receive that revelation. Then, the more I read, the more I was blown away by your revelation on prayer and the depth of what the Lord has shared with you. This is important stuff! :)

I plan to share this with the prayer team as well as my Facebook community.

Lord, bless Cali today in her prayer relationship with You. Bless her for her faithfulness to take time out of her day to share this message with others who desperately need to hear it. Let blessings fall to those who receive it, but let the glory be to You alone. In Jesus name I pray, Amen. (PS: I did speak this out loud!)

Autumn said...

Wow, this hit home. I needed to read this thank you.

Nancy said...

I can't help it. I know I should be contemplating the spiritual wisdom of your post. But all I can think of is how blessed I am to say you are my daughter. Wait until you get to see your kids doing great exploits for the Lord. Then you will know what I mean. Hey everybody! Look at how the Lord has blessed ME with the privilege of being Cali's mom! And btw, you definitely get the prayer thing. Good job.