image by rawpixel from Unsplash
"...and forgive me for what I did wrong...and help me with today...erm...and also I pray for ____, for _____ to get well, and for the missionaries I know serving in other countries...also help with me with today....wait, I prayed that already. Also that you will help me to get my devotions done every day. In Jesus' name, amen."
Let's be honest. There are days when praying feels like talking to yourself. When you go through your list dutifully, try hard to really feel gratitude overflow our hearts when it comes to thanksgiving, repeating the same prayer request for what seems like the hundredth time, and end feeling pretty much the same as you did when you started.
Those are the days we forget why we pray.
When the main reason why we drag ourselves through the motion is because this nagging sense of duty propels us to.
It's like exercise, that is for most of us who don't actually enjoy the process of exercising but rather do it for the sake of the feeling after--that sense of satisfaction because you did something that was good for you, you can feel good about yourself.
We do it because we know it's good for us....because we ought to...we know we could enjoy it more, but well, right now we're just focusing on getting it done in the first place. Me on jogging, pretty much.
In his book Desiring God John Piper argues that prayer is both the pursuit of God's glory and our joy--citing John 14:16 and 16:24: "Whatever You ask in My name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son;" and "Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full."
For us as human beings, communication is the means by which we develop relationships. And to communicate with God, we pray. Our joy therefore comes from developing our relationship with God, through prayer; understanding Him, trusting Him, and loving Him better. Seeing how He works in our lives and responds to our prayers. When we experience the union with God that we were meant for, we get a foretaste of the state we were meant to be living in, a glimpse of pre-fall Eden, a foreshadowing of heaven.
And this in itself is what glorifies God. Consider that this is the Creator Who made us for this purpose--to have fellowship with Him; Who made us so that we can "glorify Him and enjoy Him" (from our old friend the Westminster Shorter Catechism.) To glorify Him BY enjoying Him. Our joy in Him is His glory.
So the next time you sit down to pray, remember that you're not ticking a box, doing a duty. You are pursuing joy in God, and actively glorifying Him through it. And if like me, you think daily prayer time consists running briefly through a list of names and prayer requests, you're missing out on the main purpose of prayer, and its main benefit for us.
When we pray, we glorify God by experiencing joy in His presence. How much of that do you already have in your prayer time? It's a challenging and sobering question to ask, as it shows us just how much we've missed the mark, just how much we've misunderstood what prayer was meant for, how the "sweet hour of prayer" isn't the unattainable far-off illusion we can't relate to.
But it also shows us how much more it could be for us. How much we were meant to have.
a small voice
Ci thinks some of God's greatest blessings to mankind are
Click to set custom HTML
ALL IMAGES FROM PINTEREST UNLESS OTHERWISE SPECIFIED. THANKS, PINTEREST!