“Hi God, I know it’s late. I really did want to take a quiet moment with you today and not just the help or thanks mentions I did in passing but I failed AGAIN. Thank you, God, for today and, well, for everything. Help me honor you better tomorrow. Please bless my family with greater faith in you. Thank you for loving me, God, and Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.”
More often than I would like, my prayers are at the end of a long day while I’m falling asleep. Though I love falling asleep in my Father’s arms, I can’t help but feel like something was missed that day. I blame myself of course. I fail at taking quiet time with God and I chastise myself for not wanting more of that and more of Him. He knows that I beat myself up though. I am coming to learn that this is not what He wants for me, to beat myself up, especially not about prayer.
Some people, both believers and non-believers alike, find it pointless to pray. They think that if there is a higher power, with a divine plan and purpose, prayer doesn’t change anything. I have to admit, I have struggled with this thinking myself. But the longer I have known Jesus, I find that more and more He is teaching me I am missing the point of prayer.
The biggest change that prayer makes is IN ME.
One thing I have come to realize about prayer is that it reminds me of who I am or whose I am. I so often get through my day thinking if I can just get it together and get enough stuff done, life will fall into place. Then at the end of every day I lament about what I didn’t get done. When I take time to quiet myself and pray, I am reminded that life is not about my “doing” it’s about my “being.” My being is a daughter of the one true God and Savior of the world (John 1:12, John 3:16). Prayer reminds me I am not in control. I am a creature worshiping the Creator. I will never get all the things done, but I don’t have to worry about that. For a moment I stop and remember I am loved right where I am because God created me and He died for me (Psalm 139:13, Isaiah 53:5). I am humbled and I can go out and love others better because of how much I am loved. (Ephesians 3:17-19)
A second thing I am learning about prayer is that it grows the relationship. God knows every one of our thoughts (Psalm 139:2b). So one might say, “Why tell God?… He knows anyway.” I have been trapped by this thinking too. The reality though is that when we consciously share our heart with someone, it deepens the relationship, even with God. We feel known. I remind myself, through prayer, that God knows me, deeply, and once again I feel loved just as I am with all my concerns, fears, and failures. (Romans 5:8, Romans 3:23)
Finally, sitting with God in prayer gives me hope.
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30 (ESV)
We can’t gumption up hope and rest for our souls on our own… we need God to give it to us. When we silence ourselves and the distractions, or “yoke” around us, we can pray to Him and receive that hope and peace that surpasses our human understanding (Philippians 4:7). Hope that this life is not all that there is. Hope that one day there will be no more tears and God will put everything right. Hope that God has saved us so that we can spend eternity with Him in paradise. (Luke 23:43)
Sometimes the right prayer is just for us to sit in silence and wait for God to speak to us or give us rest. Other times, it’s for us to let the Holy Spirit speak for us, things we cannot express with words (Romans 8:26). I am learning that the best prayers though are to pray God’s words, not mine. Whether it’s the Psalms, the Gospels, or other scriptures, all will speak truth and bring comfort and relationship with our God.
My new favorite prayer is not new, but it is the perfect one. The one that Jesus taught us to pray. I used to take this prayer for granted and think it was unoriginal to pray it. But I was wrong. This prayer reminds us whose we are and how great and holy our God is. That His plan is perfect and high above what we will understand here on earth. It helps us to ask for what we need, just for this moment. It allows us to confess we are sinners who’s biggest task in this life is to forgive those who have hurt us. Finally, it asks God to grow us and protect us from evil. I need this prayer daily, it now never gets old.
Pray then like this:
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.”
Matthew 6:9-13 (ESV)
Prayer in the Night: For Those Who Work or Watch or Weep by Tish Harrison Warren
Forgiving What You Can’t Forget by Lysa Terkhearst
Pause App by John Eldredge, author of Get Your Life Back