I was delayed in writing this post due to some issues with my blog. It took extra time to sort things out, but thanks to a friend, it’s all sorted out now…I think!
This is a continuation of the post on Monday that talked about Bible reading for the New Year. It is one area I want to improve on this year. The other area I need to improve on is in the area of prayer. The reason is not to say that I now pray for x amount of times or hours a day or I feel confident that NOW I am a good pray-er. My goal is to improve my relationship with GOD.This past year I have become aware of much brokenness in my life in terms of relationships. I am confident that improvement in terms of this relationship with GOD, would help all my relationships. Click To Tweet
This past year I have become aware of much brokenness in my life in terms of relationships. I am confident that improvement in terms of this relationship with GOD, would help all my relationships. But this one is most important. Prayer does not come easily to me. I don’t like to sit still. I am better at it than I once was. If I have to sit still, I want something to do with my hands or my brain. I’m not like Martha of the Bible in the sense that I’m always in the kitchen. That is not my place of confidence!
I am one of those people who works hard to do things and when enough doors are slammed in my face or I hit enough brick walls, then, finally, I pray. I don’t say this joyfully. It is a huge flaw of mine. But this past few years have been very difficult in ways I have rarely experienced. I have come to the end of myself on a more regular basis than I did earlier in my life. It is good for that reason too! I am forced to turn to Jesus in ways I never did before. I prayed then, but not in the ways I have in the past few years.
As I watch my husband…and me, fail physically and mentally, there are times when it gets scary. I have to turn to GOD for help when it is hard. I sit in a chair sometimes and wonder what will become of us…apart from the care GOD gives us. Yes, we have children who love us and care for us. Many don’t. Yes, we have good church friends that are willing for us to ask for help.
But when I go home and lie in bed at night, where can I go but to Jesus to ask for help in areas no one else can help? I have genuine worries and concerns about the future that are real. No one can tell me it will all be okay. Yes, it will be in the eternal sense. But during this in between time, there may be some very hard times ahead. There have been some. I have no idea what lies ahead as GOD removes the unimportant and temporal and the eternal things remain. Meanwhile, my hope must remain in Him in ways it hasn’t been up to now.
Of course, the best help is to pray and read GOD’s Word no matter how clumsily we do them. As we do them, we find ways that work well for us and we get better at doing both in the process of practicing.
1. Prayer has to do with my relationship with GOD
When it comes to prayer, it also helps me to remember one of the main purposes of prayer. It is to build my relationship and intimacy with GOD.
It is NOT having a laundry list of requests. It is NOT simply putting in time, rotely doing an activity. It is building a relationship with GOD. That takes time and practice in all kinds of situations. These may have a part in prayer, but they aren’t the main reason for praying.
I realize that one reason I don’t talk to GOD in the same way I talk to friends is that I don’t talk to him as a child talking to her loving and powerful Father.
I never learned to talk to my parents and tell them what I really needed or wanted. I knew they had no money and I didn’t want to burden them. That is an area of unhealth that passes on to my prayer life. I don’t know where your unhealthy areas and brokenness are in your relationship to Him, but it would be good for you to know.
Despite the fact that it hasn’t been that way in my marriage, it is a habit that has lasted. I rarely go to GOD like a child and talk to Him openly regarding my actual needs and desires. It is very harmful for the relationship for sure! I tend to edit my prayers, not remembering who I’m talking to.
Is this the GOD of the universe? The one who created everything? He not only cares about me, but He has the resources to help me in times of need.
2. Prayer reminds me I’m talking to GOD!
One part of prayer is remembering who GOD is. One way to do that is to read Scripture to remind myself of who He is and pray it back to Him, worshiping Him for the fact that He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger (as one passage says) and go from there as I worship Him. It can be encouraging as I think of specific things I am praying about that day.
This is why His Word, particularly the Psalms, are so helpful in prayer. They remind us of who GOD is.
3. Prayer reminds me of who I am
As I come before this holy and awesome GOD, I realize how much I am not like HIm, how far I fall short of what I have been called to. I realize how much I need Jesus and His work in my life. How much I need forgiveness from Him for both sins of commission and omission. I also see how thankful I am for His forgiveness…and how much I need to give it to others.Keep it simple, but know where you think GOD is leading you. Trust GOD to help you obey Him as you make prayer goals for this coming year. Click To Tweet
Resources for improving your prayer life
This isn’t meant to be a thorough list of resources. These are just a few books and an app. A long list probably won’t be super helpful. It can be overwhelming. Add favorite books on prayer or resources that you like, in the comments, and why you have found them to be helpful.
A Praying Life: Connecting wth God in a Distracting World by Paul E. Miller
This book on prayer talks a lot about talking to GOD as a child. Also helpful for praying for others, especially parents for their children.
Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God by Timothy Keller
I plan to read this one this year. I need it. I have heard some great quotes from it. Highly recommended.
Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions edited by Arthur Bennet
This is a collection of prayers from puritans. Don’t be afraid to check it out. I find them to be very practical and down-to-earth despite the old English. I find them helpful in thinking about who GOD is as well as looking at aspects of myself that I don’t like to look at even in the light of GOD’s mercy and grace.
Action plan-My husband always said that prayer is one topic you can preach on to instill guilt in your congregation (if that is what you are going for.) Fortunately, it wasn’t his style…and guilt is a lousy motivator.
Most of us realize we need help in this area. In order to grow this year, plan to read one book on prayer and set some goals for growth. For example: I’ll be involved in a study of the attributes of GOD this year which will indirectly help my prayer life. I know it will broaden my view of who GOD is. I also plan to read the Tim Keller book on prayer listed above.
You may also want to plan to get together regularly with 1 or 2 others to pray for specific concerns or challenge yourselves to grow in prayer in certain ways. Think through what prayer goals you have for this year or new prayer habits you want to develop. Don’t get complicated. New habits are best begun slowly and one at a time. Keep it simple, but know where you think GOD is leading you. Trust GOD to help you obey Him as you make prayer goals for this coming year.