I recently listened to a message on prayer by Timothy Keller, in which he talked about praying the Psalms. How the book of Psalms shows us all the different ways we can pray and how we can understand God’s heart even more through. Keller questions, has the Spirit of God really come to live and reside within us and transform us, if we aren’t drawn to pray? Troy and I are both reading his latest book, Prayer, and it’s now absolutely on the list of must reads!
I don’t know about you, but I can sit down to do a block of writing or prayer and suddenly that thing I had forgotten earlier now comes to mind. I get an idea for something that I am certain can be found on Pinterest. Or our budget and grocery list suddenly floods my mind. Yep. Distractions are everywhere, and they’re one of those pesky little things you can find without even looking for them.
It seems like it should be a given. Simple. A no-brainer. As believers, we should be praying. Prayer is the gateway to which we really come to know God, and come to understand the identity we have in Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
For many years, prayer for me was more something I checked off a list. I felt good if I did 20 minutes. An hour made me feel really good. Because prayer was about making me feel like a good Christian, and that because of my time invested, God would give me what I asked for. I’m saddened to say that at times, seasons of increased time in prayer was more out of desperation than desire to KNOW Him better. But the last 2-3 years, God has been refining me, my motivations. Ah, convicted!
I feel drawn. Thirsty. I want to know my Father’s heart deeper, and now I feel surrounded by good teaching on prayer to guide me. So, I just want to share with you!
Dr. Caroline Leaf, a Christian neuroscientist, says that it has been found that 12 minutes of daily focused prayer over an 8-week period can change the brain to such an extent that it can be measured on a brain scan. Time in God’s presence actually changes us.
Two things I have drawn from recent listening and reading on prayer that might help you in your quest to drawer closer to God and understand His heart more clearly:
- Prayer doesn’t have to be complicated, formal, or long to be heard. Matthew 6:7-9 shows that it isn’t about performance, length, or comparison. Which shows the motivation behind our praying is actually more important than what we say or how we say it. Jesus gives us a guideline in that chapter through the Lord’s prayer, that I think is amaaaaazing! Timothy Keller also preaches on this and it’s helped me understand where my prayer life was so lacking. (some parentheses are my own interpretation of each line, as well as what he teaches)
Our Father in heaven (starts with knowing our relationship/adoption with God as our Father)
Hallowed be thy name (adoration, worship)
Thy Kingdom come (God’s rule sovereignty)
Your will be done (God’s purpose)
On earth as it is in heaven (pray big!)
Give us this day our daily bread (provision, needs)
And forgive us our debts (repentance)
As we have forgiven our debtors (mercy)
And lead us not into temptation (deliverance, strength)
But deliver us from evil (victory!)
Notice the way Jesus taught us to pray begins with knowing our Father and His nature, and through that we have the ability to worship, ask, repent, and walk in victory!
- I need to know my Father’s heart, as that affects every other area of my life. And a good place to start, is the Psalms. I’ve been reading in Psalms, so now I have started a part of my journal where I write down characteristics of God as they jump out at me from chapter to chapter. For example, “He guides us with counsel” (Ps 73:24), “He is a sun and a shield” (Ps 84:11), or “He is good and his steadfast love endures forever” (Ps 100:5).
For me, and likely for you too, when I write things down, and then think and meditate on them, they go from my head to my heart. Timothy Keller says, “Prayer is not merely a way to get things from God, but a way to get more of God himself. God will either give us what we ask or give us what we would have asked if we knew everything he knows.” Because He is a good, good, Father. 🙂
So take these two examples of things I am learning:
*Use the model of the Lord’s prayer as a guide. Prayer is not about reciting a laundry list to meet my needs and get what I want. But it’s ultimately about learning HIM. Yes, we are to ask (Matthew 7:7). But ultimately, when we know God’s heart better, those needs are more freely given into His hands when we do pray.
*Try your own way of writing down and meditating on God’s character. Write it in your phone or journal, or Bible even. Think on it. And let the understanding of the grace and greatness of God really go from your head to your heart. He wants us to KNOW Him!
Have a great week! We leave for holidays tomorrow for two weeks…VERY excited!