I had finally decided to do it. I made a lunch date with my parents to tell them. I was scared. Conjuring up conversations laden with disdain, disgust and even some hatred I drove to the restaurant. As we dug into our sandwiches, I mustered up the courage to blurt it out. “I’ve started going to church.” And then I winced in anticipation. After some silence, I continued, “I was a bit afraid to tell you.” And my mother replied, “Why would you be afraid to tell us that and WHY on earth do you feel the need to go to church?” That, my friends, in one sentence, is the story of our relationship. After I explained a few reasons why I decided to attend church my father finally spoke. “Believing in God is a crutch. It’s something I don’t need.”
Nowadays when I hear people say things like that my response is, “A crutch? Give me two please!” Because there’s nothing I need more than for God to support me through this difficult life. There’s nothing better than Him. I have the promise of eternal life and His love under one arm and the power of prayer and petition under the other.
We live out our lives using so many other worldly things as crutches – our jobs, friendships, our bank accounts, our health, our status, the belief in the power of our own mind, etc. And when those become our source of support our prayer life (if we even have one) directly reflects those crutches.
I call this a selfish prayer life. Either we don’t ask because, like a two-year old we think, “I can do it all by myself!” Or when we do pray, we aren’t asking as wisdom-filled followers of Jesus. How many of us have recited a prayer and at the end said, “In Jesus’ name, Amen.”? Have we stopped to consider what exactly we are saying? Is what we are praying something Jesus would ask for of the Father?
“Man is a creature abounding in wants. He is ever restless. His heart is full of desires. Man is like a sea anemone with its multitude of tentacles, which are always hunting in the water for food.”Charles Spurgeon, Ask and Have
I’ve heard a lot lately about our attitude and faith. The state of our attitude needs to be examined when praying. When we pray, are we complaining and want a “magic pill?” Are we asking for other people to be “fixed” when we really need for God to shine the light on what we need to fix in ourselves? Do we pray to get the promotion so we can make more money or do we pray for God to position us in our company right where He needs us most? When we don’t get the promotion do we then say, “but I prayed about it and obviously God isn’t listening?” We get angry with God when He doesn’t do what we tell Him to do. Go figure.
When we don’t live as though we have the mind of Christ inside us, we pray as though we don’t know the spirit of God. Our heart and mind, with the wisdom of God, must be woven throughout our prayers. My friends and I recently watched the movie, “War Room.” In it, an older woman disciples a younger woman who is having a lot of marital problems. She wants her husband fixed – fixed, of course, how she wants him fixed. The takeaway from the movie for all of us was the intensity and sincerity the older woman had in her prayer life. What I had to realize was two things:
- The devil is hard at work, even in our prayers.
- We need to use our power and authority given by Jesus to plead with God
And so, I created my own prayer War Room. I pray with conviction that God will hear my prayer and His desires will be done. I pray knowing He wants the things I want – for families to be reunited, for mothers to find their voice, for husbands to step into their roles, for daughters to be filled with the Holy Spirit, for friends to surrender to Him, for our country to be healed. And I pray thankfully for prayers that have been answered and for his intervention into my life and my family’s.
I don’t pray for things anymore. I pray for wise decisions. I pray for doors to be open and doors to close. I pray for hurt feelings to be removed and for me to not hurt people’s feelings. I pray for forgiveness and to forgive. I pray asking for the strength to live a life He wants me to live – not the one my selfish desire wants to be. I pray for Him to take my burdens so I can rest in the peace Jesus left with us. And I pray boldy. I pray calling on all the strength I know God, the King of Kings, has to do all things. It’s time to stop messing around with lazy, recitation praying and start meaning exactly what we say.
“If your desires are the longings of fallen nature, if your desires begin and end with your own self, and if the primary purpose for which you live is not to glorify God, but glorify yourself, then you may fight but you will not have.”Charles Spurgeon, Ask and Have
As Christians we have the privilege of prayer. Think of all the people you know who don’t know Christ. They are left to their own devices – and we are terribly faulty people. We get our own lives so messed up yet somehow, we think we can control the world around us. We must pray. We must pray His will be done. Our first impulse in the morning should be prayer. Throughout the day we should be praying for others. And at the end of the day we are specific with our prayers of thankfulness. Let’s not be like the sea anemone grasping at whatever luck or speck of good comes our way. Instead, seize on the notion that God wants to give us a good life. All we need to do is ask.