Prayer is something I have always struggled with. Maybe its because I am scatter-brained and easily distracted. I recently heard a sermon by Francis Chan about the power of prayer, and the ability of prayer to become not only a lifestyle, but a way of walking in love with God.
The question that stood out to me from his sermon was this: do you actually believe your prayers will be answered?
Surprisingly, when I asked myself this question, the answer was a slightly embarrassed “no.” I pray a lot of vending machine prayers, big questions and long grocery lists, but I hardly ever think God will actually answer any of them. As a result, I began to examine my own prayer life, and found three principles that I have began incorporating into my daily conversations with God. These three simple practices have made an immense difference in my prayer life, and I hope that they may also guide you to find a deeper, more intimate walk with Christ.
Focus on other people, not just you.
God calls us to intercede on behalf of our friends, our family, and even our enemies. When we lose sight of the importance of praying for those around us, we lose sight of what prayer is really for. We are called to deeply care about everyone we come in contact with, speaking to God on their behalf because we love them too dearly not to.
“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” -Galatians 6:2
Self centered prayers are easy to fall into, I know. But, when we start praying for our friends, small groups, even the people who drive us crazy, we are invited into a truly unique part of Christianity; a genuine joy that pours out in prayer. For example, I have started praying for my small group girls each night, my family, friends, even big world problems, and am feeling so much more connected to the body of Christ and to my Savior.
Stop praying the grocery list, and start speaking with God.
I often get caught in the “Do this for me… Help me… I’m anxious so fix this… Give me that…” prayer without even realizing it. I realizing I’m asking for a bunch of things (relationships, grades, conquered fears), but not praising God. I’m not speaking with Him.
“Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving.” -Colossians 4:2
Prayer is meant to be an intimate discussion, an intricate knot of telling God your innermost thoughts and waiting for His answer with patience. When we get caught in grocery list prayers, God is not praised nor are we fulfilled and nourished spiritually. When we speak with God intimately, the relationship between us grows significantly and we are invited into something beautiful and unique to Christianity: our God listens and cares deeply about everything, from the big moments to little details.
Believe and your prayers will be answered (even if the answer is no).
After listening to Francis Chan speak about real belief, I started trying to pray purposefully. I began to pray as if God was listening (because He is) and planning to answer each prayer, question, broken sentence and joyful thank-you.
“Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.” -Mark 11:24
I am realizing that belief tends to yield a more powerful prayer and strengthens my faith immensely. That God desperately wants us to know He is listening and answering each prayer, even if the answer isn’t always what we think it is. I have found that the most beautiful answered prayers in my own life are not ones I could have planned, but the ones only God could have orchestrated. Trust Him, and believe He will answer you.
Can we pray for you?
As a writer for Tirzah, I want to invite you to post on our prayer wall. It is such a sweet way that we can connect to each other, care for each other, and love each other in the community God has called us to. Please leave a prayer request if you feel lead to particular career or project, if you are struggling, or if you just need a friend. Our whole community is praying that you may experience joy and that any pain you experience brings you closer to God. We’re praying for your families, jobs, and struggles. We’re praying for a generation of set-apart young women.
Sweet sisters in Christ, let’s pray for each other.
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