Three ways our prayers tell us about our faith.
| posted 3/18/2009
I've also had times when the invitation to share prayer requests was met with an instantaneous flood of situations that necessitated prayer. On those occasions people probably wished some of my requests were unspoken. But my relationships with those who had not put their faith in Jesus, friends who were facing great hardship, and awareness of the suffering of millions around the world compelled me to ask for prayer. Being engaged in God's work leads to a deep awareness that we need to see his power.
Do you pray for the needs of the poor regularly? That's probably a reflection of your involvement in meeting their needs. Do you pray for the salvation of friends who haven't been reconciled to God? It's hard to do that if all your good friends are Christians. Have you had the opportunity to lift to God the pain of a brother or sister in Christ? This only happens when you have deep, honest relationships with others. The great, or horrible, thing about reflecting on what we pray is it can tell us whether we're living our life for God's purposes or our own.
In God we trust?
Look back at your last five prayers one more time. Do you really need God to act or are you just praying for things because you're supposed to? It's often difficult to tell if our prayers are genuine or not on the surface. Deciphering who it is we trust takes delving beyond the words we say to the motivation behind them. For example, thanking God for his provision before a meal could be a heartfelt expression of gratitude or a meaningless platitude we've learned to utter before digging in.
Every night before my children hop into bed, we pray together as a family. A number of months back, our son was struggling with nightmares. He would wake up screaming multiple times each night. It got to the point that he was afraid to go to bed because the nightmares came so frequently. During our nightly prayer times, we ask our children if they want to pray, and our son started praying that God would keep him from having bad dreams. He's only three, but he really believed God would take them away—and God did. He prayed for something he knew only God had the power to do. As time passed, so did the nightmares. We have continued praying our children will have good dreams each night, and there are times I find myself praying this while silently thinking it doesn't really matter anymore. I even believe the habit of praying for good dreams is what will ensure the continued absence of nightmares—not that God will act, but that my words will permeate our children's consciousness and produce good dreams. An honest prayer asking for God's intervention has turned into something much more akin to superstition. The same prayer can be an indicator of great faith in God or a lack of faith in him—it all depends on our motivation.
So this game probably hasn't rivaled the wild excitement of Monopoly or the intellectual stimulation of Trivial Pursuit, but hopefully it does more to move us toward a God-honoring life of prayer. And that's not a game.
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What should we expect when we pray? What should we pray about? What responsibilities remain on us? This study examines these questions.
|Beyond "Prayer Requests"
What if people's wishes run counter to God's sometimes painful path of transformation?
by Wayne Jacobsen
You'd have thought I'd just cussed by the way the mouths around the table soundlessly fell open. And all I'd said was "I don't think I can pray that for you." The woman who had just asked us to pray was perhaps the most shocked of all.