Another spiritual goal that I have for this year is to deepen my prayer life. While I enjoy a quiet time with the Lord most mornings, I often seem to “run out of time” and sometimes attention for a full engagement with Him in prayer. It is sinful and unbelieving, but I realize that I easily conclude that He will accomplish His will without my input and that this huge and awesome God is busy with much more important things than my little world. I am horrified to acknowledge this – to myself and to others. He is a consuming fire, but He is also my Abba. So I am committing myself to believing prayer this year.
My decision to focus on prayer this year was encouraged by our Sunday School class this week. A familiar substitute pastor gave the lesson, based on Nehemiah 1. He made some points that I plan to incorporate into my prayer life.
Our degree of faith is reflected in our degree of prayer, he stated, and that was a wake-up call to me and the foundational call to me to believing prayer. He thus encouraged us to make prayer the first step rather than the last act. This starts, he reminded us, by daily committing our lives and each step in the day to Him. I want to remember in the morning hours to ask Him to help and to be glorified by my life that day. I know that makes it more likely that in the moments of my day I will be more inclined to pray before I act.
I particularly loved and want to daily remember his second point that we must recognize to whom we are praying…to our God “who is greater than any task or struggle” that I might face in the day. He is sovereign; He sees and knows and can do everything and anything. And He is faithful – He does what He says He will do, and that includes fulfilling this promise: “whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive,” Matthew 21:22. Another encouragement to believe! Though I don’t think this means He is like Santa Claus – giving me everything I want. But I know and must remember that He does hear and is making me like His Son, which is in and through every event of my day, what I hope for most.
Finally, Pastor G urged us to ask God to act. “God wants us to ask Him for what He knows we need and to ask for His help,” he said. When I heard this, I realized acutely how sometimes I do not really expect Him to do anything. Again, it horrifies me to realize this unbelief. But it exorts me to lovingly and believingly implore my God to be active on my behalf – to acknowledge that He personally is active on my behalf. That is certainly bold but also faithful.
In conclusion, he summarized the benefits that we can find in such believing prayer. (1) Prayer makes me wait. How wonderful to wait on God knowing that we have made petition of Him and that He will act. (2) Prayer clears my vision. And don’t we all need that focused and unobstructed view – obviously I do! (3) Prayer quiets my heart. Psalm 131 beautifully corroborates this:
Lord, my heart is not haughty,
Nor my eyes lofty.
Neither do I concern myself with great matters,
Nor with things too profound for me.
Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul,
Like a weaned child with his mother;
Like a weaned child is my soul within me.
O Israel, hope in the Lord
From this time forth and forever
And finally, (4) Prayer cultivates my faith. And that is my goal for this year – that the degree of my prayer and the degree of my faith will be greatly increased. May we all be encouraged to believe Him more.