October 8, 2009
How Can I Make my Prayer Life Come Alive?
"And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words." Matthew 6:7 (NIV)
I was tired of my prayer life seeming a bit stale. I used words that sounded official but my heart wasn't connecting. Too many times I found myself praying because I felt obligated - it was just something good Christians did. But I didn't want my prayer time to be like an awkward conversation with someone I barely knew. I wanted more. As I examined the way I had been praying for years, I started to realize most of my prayers seemed to be centered around me and the ways I wanted God to bless me:
God, bless my kids and keep them safe.
God, bless me and my family with good health and strong, capable bodies.
God, bless my husband's business.
God, bless this food that you so richly provide.
God, bless our day today.
Now, it's not wrong to pray these prayers. They are honest prayers. These are heart-felt prayers. These are the prayers of many women who are rising to the daunting task of taking care of their families.
But, they set my expectations of God to be what I want, without taking into consideration the possibility of God's bigger plan. Praying only these types of prayers was stunting my growth with a focus on convenience and comfort, rather than growing me into a woman of character, perseverance and maturity.
Nancy Guthrie wrote an article a couple of years ago for the magazine, Today's Christian Woman, entitled, "Prayers That Move the Heart of God." In this fascinating article she says, "There's so much to want—healed bodies, restored relationships, changed circumstances. But asking, seeking and knocking aren't secret formulas for getting what we want from God; they're ways to get more of God. As I listen to God speak to me through His Word, He gives me more of Himself in fuller, newer ways. Then, if healing doesn't come, if the relationship remains broken, or if the pressures increase, I have the opportunity to discover for myself He is enough. His presence is enough. His purpose is enough."
Nancy goes on to share in the article that through changing her prayers to be more about getting to know God rather than getting what she wants from Him, she is changing from just knowing about God to experiencing Him in deeper ways than ever before.
I still present my requests to God but I don't make this the focus of my prayer. My focus when I pray is to better align my heart with God's heart. Instead of filling up my prayer time with my requests and my words, I spend more time listening to whatever He might have to say. Power enters our prayers not by our words sounding powerful, but rather by listening for even the slightest whisper from the One who is All-Powerful.
And that's when our prayer life really comes alive.
Dear Lord, forgive me for always praying, God bless me. Give me the courage to sometimes pray, God inconvenience me... so that I might constantly be reminded to draw near to You. Interrupt me, Lord. Shake things up in me, Lord. Reveal what's in me that's not of You, Lord. Oh Lord, more than anything, I want more of You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Visit Lysa's blog to learn more about "The Most Powerful Two-Word Prayer" and a chance to win her new CD message on this topic.
This devotion is taken in part from Lysa's new book Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl.
What Happens When Women Walk in Faith by Lysa TerKeurst
Take some time to just sit and listen for the Lord to speak to your heart. I remember this being a frustrating exercise at first, but as I kept asking the Lord - sometimes begging Him - to reveal something to me, eventually He did. Sometimes the most powerful way I hear His voice is through reading and thinking about His words in the Bible. Let listening to Him help make your prayer life richer and more meaningful.
What do you think about the prayer written out above? I'll be talking more about this on my blog today … I'd love for you to join in the discussion by clicking here.
Have you ever felt your prayers were a bit canned and stale?
How might you change to make your prayers more God focused?
James 5:16, "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." (NIV)
Jeremiah 42:3, "Pray that the LORD your God will tell us where we should go and what we should do." (NIV)
© 2009 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105
Originally published Thursday, 08 October 2009.