Because praying is something I do every day, like everything that is “routine,” it is easy to get into a rut. Sometimes the pizzazz fizzles from my prayer life. Today’s devotional from Wendy Pope at Proverbs31.org (my favorite daily devotional--comes to my inbox!), just really hit home.
Wendy said that during her prayer time, after uttering a couple of “thank you’s” to God, she jumped right into her requests (my hand is waving—that’s me!). As she prayed, she felt like God was telling her to stop praying for what He was already doing. Wow. Notice He wasn’t telling her to stop praying, but to realize that He already was at work in those areas, and in fact had already answered, or was in the process of answering, several of those prayers, in ways that she should be able to see, or at least to believe in faith that He was accomplishing. The Holy Spirit was nudging Wendy to remember what He had done/was doing, and to praise Him for it.
I do not believe this is to say that we shouldn’t feel the need to pray, if we have faith that God will answer. I believe that God DOES want us to pray, in faith, but He also wants us to recognize His work and pause to give thanks to Him.
For me personally, I get so wrapped up in my request list, and the responsibility I feel to bring this all before God, because it is something I need to do (and that’s okay—I think part of praying IS for me, to remind myself of my reliance on God). But I OFTEN move on to the next item for prayer without stopping to tell God, “Oh, yes, and the things I was praying about last month—thank You for answering those prayers.” Rather than just wiping my brow in relief that I no longer need to pray about THAT item, I should be taking the time to praise Him that He DID take care of it—that it is because of HIM that I can mark that item off my “pray hard about this” list.
Somewhere between my relief and moving on to the next part of the list, there should be a Pause—a time for “I praise You, for Who You are, AND for what You have done!”
Since I can’t say it any better, I am directly presenting here portions of Wendy’s writing today.
I remembered 2 Peter 1:3, "His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness." It all became clear. If God is providing, then I needed to stop asking and start praising.
My prayers had indeed become tired and mechanical. I often wondered if God even heard my prayers.
God was challenging me to examine my prayer list to find ways He was already working, and then praise Him! Praise Him for how He is already providing for my friends' and loved ones' needs.
Taking God up on this challenge has given me confidence in my prayer life. I know my prayers are being heard and answered.
What if we paused to examine our requests to see how God is already working, then praised Him for what He is already doing? It's a radical thought. It might mean readjusting our usual prayer time to make room for His whispers. He may ask us to talk less and listen more so we can be more intentional with our prayers.
Maybe God wants to interrupt your prayers, too. He doesn't want you to stop praying, but instead be faithful to press pause and start praising.
Dear Lord, help me examine each situation I am currently praying about, so I can praise You for what You are already doing. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
1 Thessalonians 5:17, "Pray without ceasing." (ESV)
James 5:16b, "The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with." (MSG)