It seems that many of us have more questions than answers about prayer. How to pray...what to pray...when to pray...why pray...is God listening to our prayers?
It's quite possible that I could write 31 days on prayer. I won't do that. However, I do want to share a couple of my own quick thoughts about prayer before I share with you a fantastic message about prayer.
For those of you wanting to know more about how to pray, this is my strongest piece of advice: just start talking to God. You don't need a priest. You don't need to be in church. You don't need to recite particular words or phrases. God tells us to come to Him and tell him what is on our hearts.
Praise God for who He is. Thank Him for what He has done. Ask Him to meet your needs.
God delights in hearing from His children and He longs to hear from you. It's OK if it feels awkward or uncomfortable at first. Just keep talking.
If you want Scripture to guide your prayers, open the Bible to the book of Psalms - there are so many passages you can pray from the Psalms and they are a beautiful example of praising, lamenting, thanking, confessing, asking for guidance and help in times of need.
I found this very thorough list of prayers. This might be a good place to start as well:
THINGS YOU NEVER HEAR ABOUT PRAYER
This past weekend I listened to a message on prayer titled Things You Never Hear about Prayer given by Paul Gotthardt.
GO LISTEN TO IT NOW.
Seriously. It is fantastic. If you are praying about something and have not received an answer to your prayer, make time to listen to this message based on David's words to God in Psalm 22.
Here are the five things we never hear about prayer (along with some of my notes):
1. Desperation is normal.
At the heart of David's concern is this one issue: the timing of God. We don't like to wait. And the longer the time of waiting is, the more desperate we get and the more discouraged we become. Our desperation is there because we're not sure of His timing.
Abraham waited for 25 years for the promise of Isaac to befulfilled. Joseph waited 13 years after he was given a vision until it came to fruition. Hannah waited for Samuel. Simeon waited entire life. The Jewish people waited for the Messiah. And now the church is waiting for Christ to return.
Waiting seems to be a part of what God is always doing.
God will answer when God is ready. And if He has chosen not to answer yet, you can trust there is a reason behind it.
2. Reflection is helpful.
Reflect upon the character of God and the track record of God. His better is always better. His plan is always better.
3. Humility is essential.
Complaining is often a manifestation of pride. We complain because we value our will more than God's will. We complain because we want us to be the center of God's world as opposed to God being the center of ours.
4. Praise is never contingent.
David is praising God without seeing an answer to his prayers. I am afraid in our consumer-driven culture that Christians have bought into the lie that "I will praise Him when He answers." But that's wrong. We praise Him for who He is, not for what He has done.
"Could it be that God often delays His answers to prayer so that we will get over all the blessings and just get back to loving Him?"
Could it be that He says: "I know you love the fact that I come through. I know your excited about my power. I know you enjoy my miracles. I know you like my blessings. But when will I be enough? When will you just want to be with me? When will you relish the thought that you're in a relationship with a holy God? If it takes me delaying that answer a little bit longer so that you learn to chase me, it's worth it in the end."
Because the greatest need we have is not an immediate answer to prayer, our greatest need is to know God intimately.
And to know Him in such a vibrant way that his life is displayed through us day by day and moment by moment and situation by situation. I wonder if He is just saying, "Until i become your heartbeat again, I'm just going to sit here and hang out and wait. I'ts not that I'm not concerned, it's just that what you're asking for is not your greatest need right now."
5. Truth is overlooked.
Emotions, problems and perception will blur our view of what is true. We lose sight of what is really true. It feels like He is far away. But God says, "I will never leave you nor forsake you. Cast all your cares on Him for He cares for you." God I know that you have heard my cry. May I live in the truth that I know from your Word.