Tuesday, October 20, 2009

What's on Your Mind '09? - Prayer

It's still October, so we're still talking about prayer during What's on Your Mind ' 09?
Many thanks to Shane for choosing this topic!

During this series on prayer we have talked about our joy in knowing that God listens when we pray, and the wonder of having Him speak to us. Last week we talked about some of the when and how of our prayer lives.
Today I want to go a little deeper. I want to ask why you pray?
God knows everything about us. He knows our hearts, our thoughts, our needs, our fears. When we pray, we aren't telling Him anything He doesn't already know. We aren't giving God news! So, why bother?
And what difference does it make, anyway? I mean, doesn't God already know what He's going to do? He hardly needs our input to decide on matters of universal (or even global) importance. I don't believe He's into opinion polls or popularity contests. So what are the effects of our prayers? Have you ever wondered if you're just wasting your breath?

Part of me asks those questions in a teasing sort of way. I hope you already know I have confidence that our prayers do matter to God.
But part of me has also wrestled deeply with those questions. In fact, there was a time I was so confused about what to pray, I wondered if I should be praying at all. I knew what my desire was regarding the situation for which I was petitioning Him. I knew how I wanted the matter to be settled. And I was praying that way.
Over and over.
But nothing in the circumstance was changing and I began to wonder, Am I wrong to ask for my will to be done? In my heart of hearts, I want Your will to be done, God. But with my limited vision, all I can seem to ask for is my will. I know Your will is best, Lord, but what is it???
That is when I found great comfort and encouragement from Jesus' prayer in Gethsemane. He said, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as You will." (Matthew 26:39) I began to understand it is OK for me to tell God my desire for a situation. I can tell Him what I hope for - while still submitting to, and trusting in, His good and perfect will.

And so I look to Jesus' example and I pray - not because I think I can change the heart or will of God, but because I know He loves me and cares about my heart. I pray because in so doing, I am reminded of my need for God. I remember He has the power and the know-how to handle each situation. Praying takes my focus off of myself and my circumstance, and puts it on God to Whom belongs all the glory and praise. When I pray, I am drawn closer to the One who can do something about my need.
I don't believe my prayers change God, but they surely change me. And that is a very good thing.

And you? Why do you pray?

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9 comments:

luvmy4sons said...

God changes ME as I pray. It is for me and my relationship with Him. I tell my boys that all the time. You cannot stay close to a friend you never talk to I remind them. The same applies for God. But I have had all the same questions you raised and I too love that Jesus gave us such a fine example in the garden. So, so wonderful of Him to show us that God remembers that we are dust. I love it because it is so freeing. We do not hide our real desires from Him anyway. He knows. There is much power released by admitting our true desires before Him and then surrendering our will to His! Great post!

Tami said...

Well spoken (written) Karen. Basically I pray for much the same reasons you list, which all boils down to James 4:8 ~ Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.

Prayer is one of the most powerful ways we grow in our relationship with God. Without daily visits in prayer, we can't grow from a handshake relationship to an intimate relationship.

Anonymous said...

Ahhh, Karen, you articulated this so well!! GREAT post!!

I used to wonder why I should pray, for those very same reasons you wrote. Then, as my walk with Jesus grew, specifically in the last couple of years, something clicked for me.

When I was younger, & I would often "hope/wish/pray" for something, my mom would always say, "if it's meant to be, it's meant to be"...I grew up with that very same attitude, but now realize that statement really comes from trusting God's good & perfect will. These days, when I pray for something or someone, I use these words:

"Lord, I pray this situation (or whatever) works out the way it is supposed to be, according to your will. Give me the courage & wisdom to trust in You & accept the way in which it will work out."

This has helped me tremendously!!! I no longer "worry" about outcomes, but have confidence that however it works out will be for the best!

Have an AWESOME day, my friend!

Anonymous said...

OH!! I forgot..."why do I pray?" to remain close to Him!! Can't have a realtionship without talking! ;) There isn't a day goes by now that I do not pray/talk to Jesus. :)

And that "Anonymous" post about "meant to be" was me...I forgot to sign it!

Patricia nyc

Proverbs 27:19 said...

I have to ask God sometimes why I am praying for whatever it is. Ya know, kinda like why am I asking for this, do I need it? What's my intent?

smooches,
Larie

Jerralea said...

My motivation to pray is that I want more of God, so the closer I draw to Him, it is promised He will draw clower to me. I need all of Him that I can get!

Susan Berlien (warmchocmilk) said...

Often times I pray as sort of a "just incase". When I'm really desparate and need help. I pray...just incase it works. I have felt let down at times in my life by God...and sometimes I'm not really sure if he's up there pulling for me, but I pray...just incase.

Leah said...

Karen,

For me, prayer is about deepening my relationship with the Lord. Yes, He already knows my wants and my needs but He really desires that I bring them to Him in complete trust and dependence. He wants my presence. He not only loves me, He likes me and that blows my tiny little mind. He.likes.me. Amazing!!

Leah

Angie Muresan said...

What a wonderful post and what awesome replies! I have struggled with the question for so long. Too often I feel that God and I are on an acquaintance level, when all along I know we both yearn for a true friendship. A deep conversation cannot happen in 30 seconds. I need more prayer in my life, so I may know His wish for my life, and accept that He has my best interests at heart.