Over the next few weeks, I am going to cover three essentials about prayer. Why we pray, How to Pray, and What to pray. I’ll be honest, I struggle to pray. I know I have the time, I know I have needs, and I know He listens. So why do I, day in and day out, constantly keep pushing myself to “work out my life” on my own? There is no good answer to that question, but my selfish human nature keeps me believing I have to do it all.
I hope that in sharing with you these three points that I can gain a deeper appreciation of prayer myself as I give you the hope that you are seeking. Today we begin with the first aspect of a prayer-filled life, “Why.”
We Pray to Communicate with God
Prayer is communication with God. Better yet, Prayer is talking to God. In prayer, you are in a personal conversation with your creator. It is not giving a grocery list of wants and needs. It is, however, a time to tell God what you are feeling and to convey to him the stresses and concerns you have about your life. Yes, He knows already, but unless you place Him in control of doing something about it, you will continue to carry those burdens around with you. Prayer is the means of sending that message.
Think of it this way. You are sitting in a booth at your favorite restaurant. You have the salt and pepper shakers to your right, a napkin across your lap, and a menu in your hand. Your waitress comes up to you with a smile and a notepad in hand, ready to take your order. Do you keep quiet and say nothing? I mean, she knows you are hungry, you’re sitting in a restaurant for crying out loud, but she doesn’t know what you want to eat unless you tell her. The cooks cannot prepare your meal if the waitress doesn’t bring them the order ticket. She cannot take your order to the cooks if she doesn’t have something written down. This process begins with you. Once your needs are expressed, the diner’s wheels are set in motion, and they roll until a hot meal is placed before you and you are satisfied.
Prayer is similar to that process. Unless we communicate our thoughts and desires to God, He cannot begin to act to fulfill those needs. Yes, He has the ability, He is God. And unlike your waitress, He does know what we are going to pray for. But He is also a gentleman. He will only move in your life when you allow Him to. And prayer is the way he has designed for us to give him that access to our life. Our communication with him opens the door for him to move freely in our lives.
We Pray to Surrender Our Will to His
With allowing God the ability to move in our lives, there is a bit of surrender that is warranted on our part. Surrender is giving up the control we have and putting it in someone else’s hands. If you are playing a video game and you ask your friend for help and hand him the controller so he can get you to the next level, then you cannot take the controller back because you feel he is doing it wrong. Same with God. You give him control of a situation in your life; you cannot tell God that He is not doing it right. That is not how God’s will works. The reality is that, to you, He is not moving in the way YOU want him to.
When we pray, we are surrendering our will to His will. We are placing our wants, our needs, our loved ones, and other things that we lift up in God’s hands. That means we can stop worrying about what comes next. That is the benefit of surrender. We no longer have to be consumed with fear and dread over what we need to do next. That is God’s job. That is God’s promise. The only thing we need to do is accept where his direction leads and walk in it.
Our Prayers are Final
One thing about God is that he will never forget. You may send your spouse out for milk, and they come home with everything but the milk. They forgot. God does not forget. Once you pray, live in the confidence that He heard you and that the prayer will be answered. All it takes is once. Once the “Amen” is said, the prayer is written down, and the wheels of heaven get set in motion. And they roll until your answer is delivered to your table.
However, there is a persistence when it comes to prayer. It is what we would call a delay in God’s action. But we must understand that God’s timing is not our timing. He knows and has a specific moment when a prayer is to be answered. No matter what we do, that timing will not alter. But we shouldn’t ever doubt that God has heard. You may get an answer to prayer in a day or a week. Sometimes it takes a bit longer. Some will pray and wait years for their answer. Does that mean that God is twiddling his thumbs? By all means, no. He brings resolution in His perfect timing. He heard us the first time, and that is all that was needed, but our persistence is for our benefit to keep our eyes on Him.
We pray to communicate with God. He is the source of all that we have and all that we will ever need. Those personal conversations with Him convey our heart’s desires. They will be answered according to His will for our life; Yes, no, or wait. As we make our requests, we are surrendering what we think we should do to God. Sometimes he asks for us do something in that effort, other times he asks us to move out of the way so that He can do His thing. Either way, He knows and is on the case. Our “Amen” is an exclamation point at the end of a sentence. It is the enter key that enables the app. And he is moving, whether we see it or not.