There are those times when everything lines up so perfectly that I can’t help but sit back in that moment and think, “Yes, there is most definitely a God.” It’s not that I was unsure about there being a God before or even who He is, but sometimes when it all comes together so clearly His presence is so wonderfully affirmed and I wonder how He could ever be doubted.
I’m having one of those moments now where I’m truly in awe of how perfectly He has orchestrated my life that to me so often feels chaotic and out of control. When I started this post I was only able to slap a title on and jot down less than ten words before losing hold of the core message and content I hoped to convey. So I moved on and left this post as a draft. In the five months since then the Lord has surrounded me with both the topic and experience of prayer in an overwhelming way to the extent that when I stumbled upon this post this morning I immediately knew I wanted to finish it.
As I mentioned, the last five months have been inundated with prayer. Here’s how it has played out:
1st: The pastor at our pre-move church preached a sermon on the structure of prayers and an acronym for PRAY that could help us improve on how we pray. It struck home and I started to pray in a new way.
2nd: I started a study called David: Seeking a Heart Like His by Beth Moore. I haven’t had a chance to finish it yet but the part I did make it through was studying how David prayed.
3rd: I received baby present from my good friend Natalie that included a wonderful book about how to pray for our children using the scriptures.
4th: God answered my specific prayer for a new home where we could raise Caleb in the most miraculous way.
5th: The sermon on the second Sunday at our post-move church was actually titled Prayer and both the sermon and the subsequent Sunday school focused entirely on prayer.
6th: We learned in Bible Study Fellowship that prayers are a way to worship the Lord!
Through all of this I have learned so much about prayer and understand now just how powerful prayer truly is. Seems like I’ve come a little late to the party, I mean we are praying to the Almighty right? But in case you too are running late, here’s a summary of what I’ve learned about praying, how to pray powerfully, the importance of prayer, and how I’m trying to implement it.
Prayer is not limited to the dinner table nor is it limited to bedtime routines. It’s okay to pray at any time and the more you pray the better.
I pray a lot throughout the day when I’m driving, or cleaning, or doing anything that isn’t taking all of my attention. I think this kind of informal prayer is crucial to our spiritual growth but formal, dedicated prayer time is also important and is an area I struggle with. I prefer to be doing multiple things at once so sitting still and solely praying and speaking with God is actually quite challenging to me. I’m trying to make it a part of my daily morning routine but it would seriously help if Caleb would stop waking up at any given time between 5:30 and 7!
Pray With Structure
The Bible has many incredible examples of prayer and they offer us a wonderful prayer template to follow. Here’s a wonderful list of [AnythingPopup id=”2″] that we studied a few weeks ago during Sunday school.
Our old pastor turned me onto the acronym below to help provide structure to our prayers. Interestingly, these elements can be found in many of the prayers in the Bible including the Lord’s Prayer. So this isn’t just a catchy acronym, it’s more like a condensed instruction manual on how to pray. Less structured prayers are by no means wrong, but I’m thinking maybe structured prayers are “more better” (do y’all use that horrible phrase??? Somehow it has stuck in our home as of late). I’m still a work in progress, but here’s an example of how this looks in action for me right now.
Praise: Lord, you are the Almighty, the Alpha and the Omega, and the King of Kings. You split the Red Sea and freed your people from slavery. Your greatness is unfathomable and you are worthy of all praise!
Repent: I come before you today an unworthy sinner. Please forgive me of my sins, for my pride, my envy, and my focus on worldly treasures.
Ask: I ask that you continue to bless our family and that through our blessings we may highlight your glory and power. I pray that you bless us with a smooth renovation process that does not encounter unforeseen expenses and I pray that you watch over Matt’s work and make sure that his co-workers and superiors alike see his work ethic and the results his project is achieving.
Yield: Lord, I trust that your will for our family, be it the same or different than mine, is the best thing for us regardless of how it may seem in this moment.
Pray With Specificity
This is one of the best things I have learned about prayer. I used to pray broadly and pray things like “keep my family healthy” or “keep us safe” or “help me do better at my job.” But after reading some of David’s prayers as directed in Beth Moore’s study, I realize prayer can and should also be specific. I still pray broadly but I also pray specifically too. Just as David asked for God’s help against the specific enemies who were pursuing him and trapping him in a cave (Psalm 142: 6-7, we too can pray for our current specific circumstances.
When I learned this during the Beth Moore study, I prayed that God provide us with a house to raise Caleb in that was right for our family. “Right” meant hitting a majority of the things on Matt and I’s wishlist and/or whatever God thought was right for us. I asked that he provide it in the short term and not in the long term. Of course, I thought the short term meant sometime in the next 2 years or so. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I two months later I would be closing on our new home… but that’s just how God works and shows us the power of prayer.
Pray the Scripture
Using scripture in your prayers is a concept that seems pretty obvious but truly, it had completely escaped me. Thankfully that changed when Natalie gave me Praying the Scriptures for your Children by Jodie Berndt. Jodie has numerous verses that can easily be re-worded to make them personal to your children, husband, family, friends, or even yourself. The concept is simple, the best words for prayer are the ones written by God’s own hand as he inspired the writing of the Bible.
For instance, 2 Timothy 2:22 (“Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart”) can be adapted to apply specifically to your own family:
I pray that Caleb will flee from evil desires and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, in a community of friends and family that call on the Lord and have pure hearts.
Lastly, did you know that praying is actually a form of worship? I had no idea! Until recently I thought worship was limited to singing but that’s not the case. Revelation 5:8 says, “the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb (in worship). Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people.” So there you have it, prayer is part of the worship process in Heaven and they are incense to God!
I hope this got you thinking about prayer! If you aren’t a regular pray-er right now, don’t let this post overwhelm you. Just give it a go and as you get more comfortable start trying out some of the things listed here.
Let me know your thoughts on prayer and how it has impacted your life. I’m a work in progress and love learning through other people!