In Fall of 2017, I read “A praying life: connecting with God in a distracting world” The book changed the way I think about how to pray.
There’s a scene in the garden of Gethsemane where Jesus asked His disciple to pray.
He came back and found his disciples sleeping. So he said to Peter, “Can’t any of you stay awake with me for just one hour? Stay awake and pray that you won’t be tested. You want to do what is right, but you are weak.” Matthew 26: 40,41 CEV
Jesus is asking us to do the same thing today. To pray so that we could see a greater reality than what is seen in the physical. This was my failure last year (I wrote about it in Dec 5 blog, “worry blinds our eyes to hope and distort our perceptions”)
As I fight my way through the battles of this world, my eyes aren’t normally fixed on Jesus. I do look his direction more than I used to, but far more often my eyes are fixed on the crises before me. They have a way of arresting my attention.
We know that faith plays a critical role in effective praying—maybe the critical role—and so we feel that somehow we have to generate faith. That never works, nor does it help to try and generate feelings of faith. We must look from whatever causing us to worry and fear to God. Peter looks at Christ, and he can walk on the water; he looks at the waves, and he goes down.
Before we can learn the prayer of intervention, we must clarify who we are, and Who we are praying to—or with. For as we saw with Elijah, effective prayer is far more a partnership with God than it is begging him to do something.
To pray is to dream again. I say “again” because every child naturally dreams and hopes. To learn how to pray is to enter the world of a child, where all things are possible. Little children can’t imagine that their parents won’t eventually say yes. They know if they keep pestering their parents, they’ll eventually give in. Childlike faith drives this persistence. But as we get older, we get less naive and more cynical. Disappointment and broken promises are the norm instead of hoping and dreaming. Our childlike faith dies a thousand little deaths. But Jesus encourages us to believe like little children by telling stories about adults who acted like children: the parable of the persistent widow, who won’t take no for an answer from an unjust judge (see Luke 18: 1-8), and the parable about a man who badgers his neighbor to lend him three loaves for a friend who has come at midnight (see Luke 11: 5-8).
I am praying to the One who gave his life for me. Just let your heart linger there for a moment; picture the event in your mind. I am praying to the One who gave his life for me. You will feel confidence in talking to him, assurance that he cares more about what you care about than you do.
If this was the Person I had clearly in mind, clearly in my heart as I prayed, I know it would make a world of difference. I would be so confident; I would expect good things; I would feel triumphant right from the start. And that is why we are urged to “fix our eyes” on Jesus—especially as we pray.
This immensely powerful, creative, generous, intimate, and loving Person also happens to be your Father. Which brings us to our situation in the prayer relationship.
If God is composing a story with our lives, then our lives are no longer static. We are no longer paralyzed by life. To ask God for changes, confront us with our doubt whether prayer is possible and makes a difference. Is change possible? Doesn’t God control everything? Because our Father controls everything, we can ask, he will listen, and act. Since I am His child, change is possible – hope is born.
My prayer for you is that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really is important and what matters most.
Don’t settle for a person who is not in ardent pursuit of the Father’s heart, and don’t fail to be in daily pursuit of Him yourself!
Don’t settle for a person who isn’t striving for God’s glory, and makes strides in the race toward Him.
Seek those who will call out sin your life, help you walk through it, and spur onward towards Christ.
Take Heart and trust God.
May you always be filled with the fruit of your calling, the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ – for this will bring much glory and praise to God.
Every spiritual pilgrimage is a story. The praying life… we become aware of our story. A praying life gives birth to hope. Prayer is inseparable from repentance. When we give our life to God, He give us the gift of Himself.