Monday Morsel ~ A Perspective on Prayer
just a little something
to begin your week
This weekend at a Small Groups leadership meeting at our church, the meeting ended by spending an hour in prayer. I have to be honest: at first I was not jumping up and down for joy to spend this long in prayer with people I didn’t know very well. However, after the meeting, Jared and I both mentioned to each other how encouraging it was. I especially appreciated hearing people pray so honestly and vulnerably to God.
There are different formats and models for prayer, and I don’t believe one is particularly better than the other. The point is that we are spending time and sharing our thoughts with God, and listening to His response.
In light of this encouraging prayer time this weekend, I want to share two formats for prayer that have been especially helpful to me in my prayer life as I fight against distractions and strive to spend purposeful time with God. (You may be familiar with the first format but may not have heard of the second.)
This is the format we used at our meeting this weekend, and the one I grew up using.
Praising God for who He is and His wonderful attributes.
I praised Him for how creative He was to make the beautiful seasons and especially the changing of the leaves here in the Midwest.
Asking God to forgive us for the specific ways that we have displeased Him.
I confessed that I was often too worried about pleasing others and gaining their approval than I was with pleasing God.
Thanking God for His answers to prayer and the ways He has blessed us.
I thanked Him for my health and the way He has so intimately walked with me through the challenges of this last year.
Asking God to work in our various needs and desires.
I asked Him to encourage our friends’ daughter who is waiting in an orphanage for the long adoption process to finalize.
This format is from one of my favorite books that I read a few years ago by Larry Crabb’s The PAPA Prayer: The Prayer You’ve Never Prayed. Crabb shares this model as a way to engage relationally with God through prayer. Praying this way the last few years has rejuvenated my prayer life because this format pushes me to be honest with God and reflect more deeply on my misconceptions of Him. It also leads me to a deeper place of surrender in my relationship with God. (I think the best way to explain these bullet points is by using direct quotes from Crabb’s book.)
- Present yourself to God
“Identify and verbalize your red dot [the place you are at this very moment]…Be who you are, where you are….Hold nothing back. Pretend about nothing. Don’t trivialize anything. Spin nothing that’s ugly into something pretty. Be completely honest with God.”
God, I am feeling more and more back on my feet as I’ve gotten healthier since finishing chemo in April. But if I’m honest, I admit I am still waiting for the next shoe to drop.
- Attend to how you’re thinking about God
“Attend to who God really is (as revealed in the Bible) versus who you think God is (based on life experience) or who you want Him to be (based on your felt desires).”
God, I admit that I wonder what I did wrong for you to allow me to be diagnosed with cancer. I am realizing that I can see you as a vending machine – I do what I think pleases You, and You give me what I want. But I know that’s not who You are or how You work. Your Word says that You are good, and any circumstance You allow sifts through Your loving hands.
- Purge yourself of anything that blocks your relationship with God
“Ask God’s Spirit to reveal to you who or what you value more than God…Nobody moves toward real Christ-likeness without humility…Humility is an eager willingness to see where you are wrong in order to experience the power of God.”
God, I admit that I can want good health more than I want You.
- Approach God as the first priority in your life
“Come to Him to get what He so loves to give—the first thing, the best thing—relationship with Himself. Everything you were designed to experience and enjoy is found in God…Knowing God is your life and your highest joy… Enjoy all the second things in your life. Thank God for them. But never mistake them for life…Rest in His love as a prelude to receiving His best.”
God, I am realizing that You are what will bring me true satisfaction—not a good health report. Thank you that I have experienced good health the past few months, but I understand that no matter what happens, You are my joy. As long as I have a growing, intimate relationship with You, I can handle what comes my way.
Spending uninterrupted time in prayer this weekend brought greater intimacy in my relationship with God. Although an hour of prayer may not be realistic for your schedule, I encourage you to set aside some intentional time this week to talk with God—even if it’s while carting your children to practice, walking to class, or waiting in line at the post office. Present yourself to God authentically through whatever prayer format works best for you. I can personally attest that committing to prayer truly can change your day and your life.
For more information:
http://www.worldwidechallenge.org/content/gourmet-prayer (An article I wrote about prayer in Worldwide Challenge’s magazine several years ago.)
http://www.oasisaudio.com/files/products/Papa_Prayer_Simple_Plan.pdf (An excerpt from Crabb’s book)