Anyone who’s ever been to church knows that part of going to church, part of being a Christian, is prayer. Prayer is a primary way we communicate with God, and it’s a primary way God communicates with us.
If you go to church often, you have been reminded over and over again about the importance of prayer.
You’ve been told, “You should have a quiet time every day.”
“You should start and end each day in prayer and Bible study.”
"Believe in the power of prayer.”
The problem for a lot of us, though, isn't that we don’t want to pray. More often the problem is we don't know what to pray for, and we're not sure what to say.
Does God respond better if we use words like “thee” and “thou” and “beseech?” If we kneel at our beds and fold our hands do our prayers get through to God faster?
In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus provides us with a model prayer that reminds us of four important things.
1. We should honor God—in our lives and in our prayers.
2. We are completely dependent on God’s providence for our survival.
3. We are people who need to both forgive and be forgiven.
4. And we need help in guarding ourselves against the dangers of temptation.
So we learn from Christ that a life that honors God, that relies on God’s providence, that understands the need to both forgive and be forgiven, and that guards itself against temptation is a life well-lived.
But what happens when we move beyond the basics of prayer and start to ask questions about prayer that seek to integrate the more general purposes of prayer into the specific settings of our own lives?
What happens when our prayer life grows stale? How should we pray for God to intervene specifically in our lives and our hearts? How can we breathe new energy into our regular of prayer?
Here are three suggestions, and they all boil down to one thing. Pray more boldly!
When you pray, pray with big expectations. Most of us could stand to spend more time in prayer. In the Bible, Paul reminds us that our lives should be walking, talking prayers—that we should pray without ceasing. What if the problem, though, isn’t that we’re praying too little? What if the problem is that we’re asking too little when we do pray?
Maybe it’s time to stop dancing around what we're really searching for in prayer. Maybe it’s time to pray with the faith that God can do GREAT things! So whatever it is that's most disturbing or distracting or daunting to your soul today, address it directly in prayer.
If your prayer life is anything like mine, you could be a little more bold and honest with God when you pray. Boldness and honesty in prayer translate into boldness and honesty in life.
We were not created to be timid. Christ demonstrated boldness by bringing love, grace, peace, understanding, acceptance and forgiveness to a world where those things were in short supply. Those things are in short supply today, too. See if a change to your prayer life can help you build a foundation for Christ-like boldness.
Stop praying ABOUT people and start praying FOR people. If you’re like me you have a tendency to pray for your friends and about your enemies. Instead of praying ABOUT people who disagree with you, pray FOR people who oppose you. Pray FOR people who have a different perspective than you. Pray FOR people who follow a different faith than you.
Don’t pray that they’ll get what’s coming to them. Don’t pray that they’ll see the error of their ways. Don’t pray that you’ll be proven right and they’ll be proven wrong.
Pray for God’s presence in their lives—for God’s guidance and wisdom and strength. Pray for God to bless them and their families with health and happiness and prosperity. Pray for God’s mercy to be new in them every morning. Pray for God’s grace to overflow in them. And pray for God to forgive you if have somehow been less than Christian in your thoughts or actions toward them.
Remember, God loves our enemies as much as God loves us. More importantly, remember that we are called to love them, too.
Finally, instead of praying for God to remove challenges, start praying for God to help you overcome them. We pray for easier lives, a perfect family, more money, fewer problems. We ask God to spare us tough decisions. We pray for less risk and more security.
But successfully overcoming challenges, rather than avoiding them, leads to growth and a much needed spirit of boldness. So instead of praying for God to spare you the tough decision, pray that God will give you wisdom to make the right decision. And instead of praying for more security and less risk, pray for the courage to make the leap even when the stakes are high.
We need not be hesitant or timid in prayer. Bold prayers--and an ear to hear God's bold responses--lead to the wisdom, strength and courage to live with the boldness to which God calls each of us.
There's never been a better time to live boldly for Christ. And nothing has more power to help us live boldly than prayer.
See you Sunday.