I have been learning a lot recently about prayer. It seems the majority of my time here has pointed back to my prayer life—or rather, a lack of one. I feel like I have a lot of head knowledge about what prayer is, but I seem to forget about it quite easily.
In my quad—the discipleship group I Skype-in with every Wednesday—we have been reading and studying Ephesians. At one point, we looked at the prayers of the Apostle Paul. As I was perusing the Internet for some insight, I came across an in-depth study of that very prayer. The very first words of this study said: “I wonder how we would feel if the content of our prayers was published for all to read about. Do you think we would qualify, like Paul, to make the pages of the Scriptures, or would our prayers be better printed in the National Enquirer?” (Bob Deffinbaugh)
Wow. That was a deep cut to my very soul.
About a month ago now, I saw the movie War Room. Any guesses as to what it was about? That’s right—prayer. It got me thinking about how radically different my life would look if I would learn to pray continuously and for the right things. At that point, I began to really evaluate my prayer life.
I would say, like most people, I had somewhat of a prayer life. I pray when I get up in the morning and right before I go to sleep—OK, maybe as I am falling asleep. There are even the occasional times when I think to thank God for something during the day. However, I find those prayers to be fairly repetitive, especially at the start and end of my days. All in all, I discovered that my prayer life was lukewarm.
I’m reminded of the Scripture: “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:15-16).
I think we all know how Jesus feels about us being lukewarm.
After what seemed like a constant push for my prayers to become something greater, I started my prayer journal again. I still am not very consistent with it, but I definitely can see how I have changed. I am getting better at not just tossing up a prayer, but I am taking more time to really talk with God. I have noticed that the things I pray about are different, as well. I am not as concerned with what God can give me but what I could be doing better. I am working on getting that fire for God.
Where your heart is
Yes, I still ask God for things, but I see that they are not as selfish as they once were. It isn’t against the rules to ask for things, but it does matter where your heart is in that moment.
The psalmist wrote, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4).
As we draw near to God, our desires will become one with jis. We will ask for things he wants us to ask for or that he sees are what we need. Our prayers are then less selfish and more Kingdom-minded.
Autumn Friesen, a student at the University of Texas in Austin, is serving this semester in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, with Go Now Missions.