“Each time, before you intercede, be quiet first, and worship God in His glory. Think of what He can do, and how He delights to hear the prayers of His redeemed people. Think of your place and privilege in Christ, and expect great things!” –Andrew Murray
Before we decide who our prayer lives should focus on or what they should look like, we must ask ourselves: what is prayer? I like to think of prayer as a conversation between me and my Heavenly Father. For a conversation to take place, there would need to be two people involved. For two people to be involved in a conversation, there must be give and take… listening and speaking.
When we have a conversation with a dear friend, we learn what it means to wait and truly listen with our hearts without trying to think of what our next words should be. Sitting in the stillness with the God of the universe. Reading His Word and allowing the Holy Spirit to teach you and speak to you. Listening and waiting is a big part of prayer. When we wait on God and when we listen for the soft, gentle nudge of the Holy Spirit, we are focusing our hearts and prayers on God.
We may think that prayer is taking our wish list or “needs” list to God. And make no mistake, I believe God knows the desires of our hearts and longs for us to pour our hearts out to Him regarding those needs that we have. He is a gracious Father who loves to hear the hearts of His children being poured out to Him, much like we, as parents, long for our children to share their hearts with us. However, I think a huge part of prayer is God creating in us a clean heart. A big part of prayer is placing our heart in God’s hands and allowing Him to mold us and shape us.
We cannot be full of God and full of ourselves at the same time. Prayer is a beautiful time of emptying ourselves and asking God to fill us up with more and more of Himself. We empty ourselves by surrendering to God’s perfect will and not always seeking to control the circumstances and situations in our lives.
Prayer is an act of humility and surrender. It simply can’t be all about us or we miss the point entirely. And when we are walking closely with Jesus, we don’t want it to be about us, we will want it to be all about Him.
Prayer allows time for God to continue making us into new creations. If we sit in the presence of God and talk and talk and talk about what is happening around us, we are not choosing to focus on Him. If we are more concerned with the trials of today than hearing from God Almighty, prayer will not have its way in us. God’s Word tells us that He is making all things new. This is a process, not a one-time deal that happens when we accept Christ. Thank goodness that He isn’t finished with me yet!
When we start with worship, prayer takes our focus off of ourselves. Spending time thanking and praising God, adoring Him for who He is, and worshiping Him is a sure way to get our mind off of ourselves and onto Christ. I don’t know about you, but I want more of God and less of me. We must take our gaze off of ourselves and our problems and look to Jesus to gain more of an eternal perspective on things.
When we pray, we are asking God to take control. Let’s face it, God already is in control. I don’t know about you, but I try to take that control all the time. Or I try to figure out how to fix things. I want things to go how I think they should go. So, when we surrender before the Lord, in His presence, we are acknowledging that we don’t have the control that we think we do. And when we really think about it, we don’t actually want it. It’s freeing to think that the Lord has the whole world in His hands and He doesn’t actually need us to help fix the problems we see around us. I love the act of actually sitting in prayer with God with my hands open before Him, saying, “Not my will but Thine be done.”
When we wait on Him alone, He strengthens us. We can wait all our lives on a person to change or our circumstances to improve or for a situation to go away. But, when we sit in the presence of Almighty God and wait on Him, wait with Him, we are strengthened and we are changed. Being still with the Lord and allowing Him to have His way in us, allowing Him to speak through His Word and mold our hearts is actually more productive than if we were to do all the talking and fixing. Being still and waiting with God is almost always what my heart truly needs.
Worship. Adore. Praise. Wait on God alone. Seek Him before you seek the answers to your problems. Make Christ the first of your prayers and the end of your prayers. Take yourself out of the equation. Thank God for your blessings. Name them one by one. When we spend time worshiping and praising God, prayer isn’t so much about us as it is about our faithful God and His character. And then, all is right in my heart and in my world. Through the act of prayer, God gives peace and joy and more of Himself… just what I need more than anything.