“I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had no where else to go. My own wisdom and that of all about me seemed insufficient for that day.” ~Abraham Lincoln
Any act of prayer is good, so maybe my title is stupid, but I’ve been thinking a bunch on prayer–specifically, our typical prayer requests.
Have you ever thought about the nature of people’s prayer requests? About your own?
Often requests are about Aunt Kelly’s upcoming surgery or Uncle Al’s cancer. When I sit with my kids at bedtime, inclined to fall over in exhaustion, I pray for a good night’s sleep and thank God for a great day. I keep it simple and fail to help my children open the deep well within their heart. Again, God loves to hear us in all kinds of prayers, but aren’t we missing the mark? Do our prayers for external blessings or the recovery of Bob’s knee mirror biblical prayers?
I’m working to change the nature of my prayer requests!
What if we prayed for each other about the deep struggles of our soul? What if we collectively searched for God’s deepest purposes in our lives?
Check out the prayers in the Bible!
Rarely are they about health, travel mercies and the weather. I don’t recall reading prayers about finding a job, doing well on a test, or having success in a business venture. Most prayers ask God to show himself. In a stature of dependency, these prayers beg that we might know him and that he would help us love others. Prayers of the Bible call out temptations and sinful reactions. Biblical prayers name God, they name his promises, and they ask for his will.
Imagine what life would be like if we became utterly honest about our internal needs? What would happen if the next time someone asked me what I needed prayer for, my response was, “I’ve been distracted and irritable. I want to run from responsibility like a little girl and let mommy take care of everything, yet I’d still like control. I still want to do adult things… I haven’t given my family the love and attention they really need, let alone my friends. I feel like I’m failing as a mother, wife and human being–even too worn out to care! I wrestle daily with self-doubt and am unsure if anything will ever come of my efforts. I confess that I’m tempted to take refuge in food, pleasure and cheap red wine, more than in Jesus. I’m really in desperate need of God. I need guidance, motivation, grace, mercy and strength. Some days it feels like my heart has shrunk instead of expanded. I desperately need God. I need his help all the time.”
That is reality, but we don’t pray for reality. We pray for a good day and then take our reality to the counselor’s office, the gym or the pantry. Or we take it out on others in annoyed disillusionment.
Sometimes I’m even guilty of feeling entitled in prayer. Come on, God! The least you can do is give me a pleasant weekend after all I’ve done to serve you this week!
I was a designated “pray-er” during a recent worship and prayer service. Five worship songs and twenty minute of opportunity left me and three other “pray-ers” standing without a single person coming over to ask for prayer.
I respect that prayer is a private thing and all that matters is the vertical communication. But I also know how encouraged I feel when someone horizontally prays for me–especially when I’m brave enough to show my weakness and need. I also know that each and every one of us needs prayer–every minute!
I am in desperate need! I really don’t want God to find me too prideful or stubborn to ask for the things that matter. I don’t want to just look caring as I seek prayer for the neighbor’s health; I want to look dangerous, in need of God’s help with my lust, temptation and wickedness. There is where I face reality.
As we begin to identify our deep need, we refuse to stop with external blessings and focus on an internal need for change. We face reality and we align ourselves with those poor old biblical characters who were so terribly desperate…
A prayer of David.
1 Hear me, Lord, and answer me,
for I am poor and needy.
2 Guard my life, for I am faithful to you;
save your servant who trusts in you.
You are my God; 3 have mercy on me, Lord,
for I call to you all day long.
4 Bring joy to your servant, Lord,
for I put my trust in you.
5 You, Lord, are forgiving and good,
abounding in love to all who call to you.
6 Hear my prayer, Lord;
listen to my cry for mercy.
7 When I am in distress, I call to you,
because you answer me.