Do you ever feel like you aren’t praying the right way? I do. To be fair
I feel that way about several things but with prayer it is different.
Prayer is so important that I think about it a lot more than other things.
Maybe you feel that way sometimes too, or maybe you are The Ultimate Prayer Guru.
In that case hit me up and teach me your ways Yoda! Seriously though,
if you struggle with prayer sometimes this post is for you.
One of the first books I read when I became a Christian was “Crazy Love” by
Francis Chan. The first chapter of that book is titled “Stop Praying.” Wait
what?! If you haven’t read the book that title can throw you off but if you
stick it out Francis makes us sit in awe and reflect on who God is before we
pray. Now some of you hardened Christians are probably scoffing; “I know who
God is, God is love, He is powerful etc. etc.” I would likely agree with
those and most of your other adjectives about God. In fact according to Paul
with creation alone we “know” God (Romans 1:20). So maybe the question isn’t
do you know who God is. Maybe the question is do your prayers reflect who
So what does that mean? How can our prayers reflect exactly who God is?
I don’t have a black and white answer for that, but I do know what has helped me.
Stop for a second and think about the last couple of times that you’ve
prayed. Why did you pray? Was it for a loved one? For yourself? Career?
School? Stress? All of these things are important to pray for. In fact Jesus
said “And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”
(Matthew 21:22). I think we sometimes see this verse and others like it and completely miss the mark.
I know for a while I would treat God a lot more like a magical
genie than my Lord. But we have to remember who we are praying to. God isn’t a
magical genie we can call on whenever we need our wishes to come true. He is
the creator of the universe and I know sometimes my prayers don’t reflect
that. Maybe yours don’t either?
Another thing that I recently discovered (and it blew my mind) was from a
book by Richard J. Foster titled “Celebration of Discipline” recommended by
a pastor friend of mine. The book is all about the different spiritual
disciplines that we sometimes neglect. In the chapter about prayer, Foster
mentions that when it comes to praying for others maybe we aren’t praying
with strong faith. He points to the Apostles and the way they performed
miracles. Before telling a man to walk they didn’t say “If it be your will
Lord” they said “Stand! Walk” they said it with purpose, knowing that their
God, the creator of the universe, could do these things and so much more.
I know I was a participant of the If-It-Be-Your-Will prayers for a while.
My prayers were insecure and so was I. We have a God who can do anything;
we read earlier when Christ said “whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”
One of the toughest things I had to learn to do was be open and honest.
God is all knowing and all seeing. So if you pray, but skip all of the rough details about your sin and
struggles (I’ve been there) just know He already knows all about it. So why
not just save the “game face” or the tough guy routine and pour your heart
out to God.
A good example of this is King David, that guy was a warrior, the king, a tough guy, a real man’s man! Yet, he still poured his heart out to God. He pleads
“O God, you know my folly; the wrongs that I have done are not hidden from
you.” (Psalm 69:5) If pleading and crying out to God wasn’t too “sissy” for
David than I doubt that’s the case for you or I. Be open and watch how
pouring your heart out to God might just be what takes your “prayer game” to
the next level.
My final suggestion is probably the hardest of them all. Pastors like Craig
Groeschel have openly admitted to struggling with this particular area and I
know I have too. Probably the hardest thing I could ask you to try is
praying for those who have hurt you, those you don’t like, and those who
openly attack you. Some of you reading this have been hurt bad and the last
thing you could ever imagine is praying for the person who
caused that pain. Believe me; I understand where you are coming from. One of
the toughest things I had to do was not only forgive my father but pray for
him too. We may not be openly vengeful towards those who have wronged us but
when we come up with decent excuses not to pray for them it can be just as
bad. Jesus makes it clear where He stands on this topic. “But I say to you
who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who
curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” (Luke 6:27-28). I’m not saying
it’s easy, in fact your prayers might start of sarcastic “Lord please make
sure they don’t do anything stupid today.” I don’t know what it’s going to
look like, but I can promise that like my hatred for what my father did to me,
your hatred will kill you, it will not set you free, it will not alleviate
your pain, It. Will. Make. It. Worse. I promise you. In fact you’re more
likely to suffer at the hands of your hatred than the person you hate! The
devil has a party when we allow ourselves to make excuses for not praying
for those who have hurt us most. Because he knows it not only hardens our
hearts but it is the exact contradiction of what Christ told us to do.
It won’t come easily, it will take some time, but my prayer is that you will take the next step today and pray for that person who has betrayed you. Maybe that person is your parent who ruined your childhood, someone that abused you in a relationship or maybe you were bullied to the point where you no longer saw what God sees but what others told you that you were. Whatever the hurt, whatever the pain, start praying now. God will start to work in your heart and the hearts of those who have hurt you. It will be a game-changer.
Imagine what your prayer life could look like. Imagine what would happen to
your relationship with God if you stopped treating Him like a genie, but instead
treated Him like the Lord you serve and gave your life too. Imagine people beginning to
pray like never before, people praying for things, praying through things and believing in their
prayers like they never have. What would this world look like if people
humbled themselves before the King of kings and poured their heart and soul
out like never before? What would this world look like if we actually took
the time to truly forgive someone, not just ignore their existence and call
it forgiveness but truly forgiving each other through prayer, the way God calls us to? What
would this world look like if we took hold of our prayers and stopped
tossing them up to God like second thoughts, but took time for meaningful,
deep and brutally honest conversations with our God? Imagine how much
differently this world would look.
What is something or someone you typically don’t pray for but probably should?