Spiritual Disciplines Series: Prayer
Prayers often don’t work out quite like we imagine them. A divorce might divide a family. A child might die. The innocent might suffer. Life is difficult. It is important to know that Jesus is not a genie ready to deliver hearts and rainbows just because I rubbed the lamp.
Look y’all, if you are like me, and I’m betting you are, you spend most of your time in prayer presenting your requests. Here are some ideas to make your prayer time into more of a partnership…more of a love fest…more of an expression of trust.
I found this great verse in 1 Peter 4:7, and I have included several different versions below. I wonder if Peter was recalling the time he and his friends fell asleep while waiting in the garden with Jesus when he wrote this?
The end of the world is near. You must be the boss over your mind. Keep awake so you can pray. NLV
Now the end of all things is near; therefore, be serious and disciplined for prayer. HCSB
The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. NIV
First of all, I suggest that you set aside time to pray…not the praying you constantly do in your mind as you go about your day…and not the nightly prayer you say while falling to sleep on your pillow. Jesus often removed Himself from the crowds to spend time with His Father. We too should remove ourselves from the crowds and become disciplined about our time with God. I found a place behind my closet door where I can go to have private time with my Lord. Click here to read How I Found a Space to Pray in my Small House.
There are two wills at play when I pray, mine and God’s. My will seeks comfort and escape from suffering. God’s will is more mysterious. God’s will incorporates parenting and His immeasurable imagination. And sometimes it requires prolonged suffering. I am so glad the Holy Spirit inspired Paul to include his trouble with the thorn of Satan in 2 Corinthians. It gives us a glimpse of the mind of Christ when He reminds the tormented Paul that:
“My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 NLT
The suffering obviously came from the enemy, but the suffering was prolonged by Jesus to keep Paul from becoming conceited. (read the whole passage here) Who can understand the mind of God? Not me. But what should my reaction be to chronic difficulty and trouble? How should I respond in prayer? Should I shake my fist at the One who knows all? Should I feel forgotten and discouraged? This was Paul’s reaction:
So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
To be able to pray for pleasure in weaknesses, to be able to ask that His grace be enough is my idea of a partnership of wills. I may not feel it, but I can ask for Him to help me feel it. Strength in the middle of pain. My ongoing prayer for myself and for others on my prayer list is to be able to withstand God’s will, to be able to trust Him when things look bleak, and to have His grace be enough. But mainly I pray this from Ephesians 3:14-19
For His unlimited resources
For power with inner strength through the Spirit
That I learn to trust Him so Jesus will make His home in my heart
That the root of God’s love will keep me strong
That I will be given the power to understand how wide, how strong, how deep His love is
That I will be made complete with all the life and power that comes from God
In the past, my prayer time has been B-O-R-I-N-G! Why in the world would I want to linger in prayer if I am distracted or uninterested?
One way I solved this dilemma was by gathering together the latest in worship music on my Pinterest page so I have it available as I pray. For example, I particularly love the song “Come Alive (Dry Bones)” by Lauren Daigle as I pray over the lost and distracted people on my prayer list. On some days I just put on instrumental meditation music, close my eyes, breath deeply and just BE with Jesus.
On other days if I am particularly stressed about something I will use a passage like Psalm 23 to remind myself through the scripture that God is my Shepherd while using my prayer journal to write it down. My journal then becomes encouragement for me when I reread past entries.
If I run out of words to use in praise, I go to the Psalms.
Some days I try to just be thankful and not ask anything of Him. I post pictures of my family and feel my heart swell with thankfulness as I look at their faces and know the Holy Spirit is bringing words I cannot say straight to my Father.
A couple of years ago something unexpected and scary happened to one of my children. I got obsessed and worried and discovered I was not as strong as I thought. I begged and pleaded and I was NOT filled with peace. There was no syncing up with God’s will AT ALL. There was no partnership. I was a total disappointment to myself. The fiery arrows from the enemy were burning me. Where was that genie when I needed him? The only way I survived spiritually was because three people I loved reminded me of the things I forgotten. They prayed with me and read scriptures to me.
Then I remembered.
It was obvious that I needed more military training. More discipline in prayer. I needed to learn to be the boss over my mind. I pray that in the moment when your world seems to fall apart, you won’t fall apart like I did…that the discipline of prayer and Bible study will sustain you. Be ready… because our enemy is prowling like a lion.
You might like these other posts in the Spiritual Disciplines Series. Click on the pictures.
Please click the link below or in the side menu to sign up for emails from Sanctified Tourist and receive PDF files to use in your pursuit of the spiritual disciplines. They will be delivered to you in a Welcome Letter. Sanctified Tourist publishes once or sometimes twice a week and also sends a monthly newsletter at the beginning of the month. I know your inbox is already crammed full of messages, but hopefully you will look forward to the encouragement from Sanctified Tourist.
Sanctified Tourist is not paid to endorse any ads or products.