Before I get into this blog about prayer I think it's important to be completely honest; I don't pray nearly as much as I need or should do. Prayer is first and foremost an honour and a privilege. To know that I am even allowed to have access to God's throne-room and tell Him all the stuff I want is pretty mindblowing and I know full well that I take this for granted on a daily basis. I should pray more. I need to pray more. I want to pray more.
My prayer life has in the past and in recent months become a long list of requests - almost a shopping list of things that I'd like to see happen and some of the time I haven't even thought whether these things I ask are part of God's plan for me in the first place. It also becomes a bit of a one way conversation, too. I do ALL the talking and then leave the room before He has had a chance to tell me all that He wants me to hear. Anyone else relate to this?
Also, I have never challenged myself on the issue of my own prayer life, either. It's not often I sit there and analyze how I pray and what I'm getting from it. So why write a blog about prayer when I am clearly not happy with my own prayer life?
This Tuesday (22nd May, 2012) I went to a worship evening and one of the speakers said that sometimes it's good to just pray and thank God for things when everything is going well and to just worship Him for those things. Although this might seem an obvious statement it was like a bullet out of the blue for me. So I asked God to tell me how I should pray and this is the reason for this blog. I feel that God wants to use me to give a bit of insight into what it's like for Him when we come to Him with thanks giving in our hearts (Psalm 100 v 4).
God told me on Tuesday night that He LOVES it when I come to Him with a thankful heart and that I don't actually need to give Him a list of requests because He already knows exactly what I need! He also said that because He is a loving Father, why would He not give me the desires of my heart if they are pleasing to Him in the first place? He said He just loves it when I sit with Him and tell Him how much I love Him.
It then occurred to me - what if when I pray I ONLY thank Him for things past, present and future? In other words a sample prayer would be like this: "Father thank you for saving me, thank you for my family, thank you for my church, thank you for blessing me this morning with new breath, thank you for all you are going to do today and thank you for what you are about to do with my future because I know you have it sorted for me." Before, my prayer would have been 'thank you for today, I ask that you would do this, that and the other'.
So that same Tuesday night I began to pray with this new frame of mind. Firstly it was amazing. I couldn't believe that the more I thanked Him for, the more I had to be thankful for - the list just grew and grew as my heart was instantly filled with excitement at just worshiping my God who's given me everything. I also found that every time my head wanted to ask something of God, my heart was saying 'thank Him for it as if it's already happened'. So not only was I worshiping, I was also praying prophetically. It was something I have not experienced as a Christian in 30 years.
So now it's like there's this whole new side to prayer I never knew existed and it's like pure worship and adoration to the King. I believe that this type of praying isn't just for the quiet times either. Imagine a prayer meeting where everyone who prays offers thanks for things that have been done and are yet to be done? Imagine hearing the praise from the lips of His people - we all have things to thank God for that are unique to us.
But get this. This is not all God said about prayer. He also said I don't allow Him time to talk to me! God said that in the same way I tell Him that I am thankful, He also wants to say to me how much I mean to Him. He says that He wants to tell me every day how much He loves me, in the same way I tell my children how much I love them. God says that this prayer life I lead now needs to be a two way conversation. I am SO up for that!
So. How's your prayer life? When did you last spend time before the Father thanking Him for all the things He's done for you and then allowing Him to tell you how much you mean to Him? Like I said, I thought in my long Christian life I knew how to pray and that I needed to ask Him stuff all the time. But I didn't. Sometimes God just wanted me before Him. He knows my needs - He has them covered. Thank you Lord for loving me in this amazing way!