As I have grown in my walk with Jesus, I have really started to understand certain spiritual disciplines in more profound ways. One of those being the power of prayer. I don’t mean saying grace before you eat or drifting off to sleep – which, don’t get me wrong, is important as well. I mean intentional, specific prayer. I think that this is an area in the Church that we can easily drop the ball on. It is so easy to either not understand what prayer is or just simply not really understand why it is so important.
In my early stages of life, I always had a hard time thinking of things to pray for. I grew up Presbyterian so our prayers before meals came in the form of songs and energizers. Before I was truly walking with Jesus, I remember going to church camps and listening to the pastor pray on and on for, what felt like, forever. My mind would check out after about 1 minute. (Undiagnosed ADD? Maybe...) Prayer just always seemed so tedious. It was unattractive. It never was something I sought after. I wanted God to give me things, but I didn’t think that I needed to come to Him and ask.
As I started to grow in my faith, my prayer life turned to more or less me only talking to God when I needed something. “Lord, if you let me pass this exam, then I’ll go to church on Tuesday!” “God, please let this boy like me!” “Jesus, I really need A, B, and C to happen, so be a doll and get on that for me. Kthanksbye.” Those are loose interpretations of my previous prayer life, but you get the gist. I feel too often we either treat prayer like they’re demands to God, an ultimatum, or pretend like Jesus is a genie in a bottle. All of which do not hold any truth.
Before Jesus, the presence of God had to dwell in a temple. We, as humans, could not experience God’s presence. Once Jesus came and fulfilled God’s will by dying on the cross, Matthew 27:51 states, “At that moment, the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split.” Friends, because of Jesus’ death on the cross, we can freely come into the presence of God. He dwells within our hearts. I like to think we have a tin-can phone that is in the hands of the God of all creation. We are able to have conversations with the God who knows every single star by its name. Think about that for a minute. How AMAZING is that?!
Have you ever felt like you demand things from God? I know I have. God does want us to ask Him for things, but here is the kicker: We need to come before God with a humble heart and seek His will. That is the difference between demands and intentional prayer. When we demand things from God, we are seeking for our will not His. 1 John 5:14 says, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he will hear us.” Notice that scripture does not say, “we can ask anything and God will just give it to us, and we can continue to run in the ways of the world.” You come before God humbly, you seek His will, you pray, and you will see Him move mountains in your life. James says it clearly, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” –James 4:8. Friends, we have to meet God in the middle. Yes, I believe that we have a redeemer who will go to the ends of the earth to find the one who needs to know Him, but we cannot take His grace lightly.
Because of Jesus, we can talk to God about everything. I want you to think of your person. Is it your mom? Boyfriend or Girlfriend? Close family member? Think about how you interact with them. Do you just always bark out orders and demands because you want something? Heck, no. You have a conversation. You lean in and serve each other. You pursue a relationship with them. We simply cannot experience closeness with others without giving anything in return. This is how our relationship with Jesus should be. It will have ups and downs. It will be hard for you at times. But you never stop chasing after that relationship. Personally, I think it is the most beautiful relationship that you could ever experience. God loves you, friend. He wants to hear about your day and the things that were hard. He wants you to draw near to Him so he can help you walk throughout your day.
I know in my personal walk, I am so thankful that God said no to my selfish prayers. If He were to give us every desire of our heart, why would we need Him? Can you imagine how dark of a world we would be living in if God just gave us whatever we wanted? That would get old really fast and we would constantly be seeking to fill our spirits with anything that will never satisfy. Prayer is intimate and beautiful. Be filled with joy in the great seasons, and pray. Be strong during the harder seasons, and pray.
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
-1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Happy Thanksgiving, loves.
Thankful, grateful, and #blessed,