“More than anything, I want to know God.” – Phillip Yancy
“Before you pray, spend a moment to fully understand WHAT it is you are about to do and WHO you are praying to.” – Dr. Bilal Phillips
Who do you pray to? Seems like a silly, simple question. Of course, the obvious answer is God, but I hope by the end of this article you think about it in a way you never have before.
Take a moment and think about your prayer life – what you have been praying for, how you pray, and your mindset surrounding it.
Referencing the quote above, Dr. Bilal Phillips is an author and teacher of the Muslim faith, but I think his insightful quote applies to Christians as well.
When I think about my own prayer patterns, I realize how often I fail to prepare for WHAT I am about to do and WHO I am praying to. Here are some things to consider:
Fully Understanding WHAT you are about to Do
- Am I reeling off a list of needs or am I just as concerned about spending quiet time listening in my heart for God’s answers and guidance? Am I sharing strictly what is on my heart or am I concerned about knowing what is on God’s heart about the matter?
- Am I seeking to understand God’s will or simply concerned about being answered and heard regarding my own desires?
- Has prayer become a last resort or is it the FIRST THING I think about every day in all circumstances I encounter?
- Do I pray with faithful expectancy or with hesitation and disbelief – doubting an answer will really come?
WHO are you Praying To?
- Is God the sovereign ruler of the universe, acting with a purposeful will in all things, or is He easily persuaded to change His mind on any issue? Is He involved in all aspects of life or is He only engaged when we beg, plead, and convince Him to help?
- Is God omniscient, knowing fully the past, present and future? Does He already know what I am about to pray for and the best outcome?
- Is God the Creator, the Potter, and the Vine in our life or is He simply a genie – there to grant us our wishes and desires?
- Is God holy and just? Will He listen to me if I am currently involved in things that He doesn’t approve of? Can I approach God in prayer when there is willful sin in my life and expect an answer?
What concerns or issues surface in your own prayer life when you truthfully answer these questions?
Let me share what has come to my own mind and what I discovered:
- Prayer is not only about sharing my heart’s desires and expressing my gratitude, it’s about understanding and aligning my heart and mind with God’s purposes. God has a distinct purpose in instigating or allowing every event I encounter in life. Prayer is much less about convincing or pleading with God to see things MY WAY as it is to diligently seek and understand HIS WAY.
- If I believe God is loving and omniscient, understanding the complexities and the outcomes far better than I understand and comprehend, then I must surrender my will in prayer to His will. Even Jesus prayed, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” The most important thing I can ask for in prayer is for God’s will to be accomplished! This vital request has often been absent in my own prayer life.
- Effective prayer requires a mindset of expectancy and a heart of contrition. Too often I have entered into prayer absent of both.
“If you need wisdom – if you want to know what God wants you to do – ask Him and He will gladly tell you. He will not resent your asking. But when you ask Him, be really sure that you expect Him to answer, for a doubtful mind is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. People like that should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.” – James 1: 5-7 NLT
“But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” – Jesus talking about prayer in Luke 18:13-14 NLT
None of us are perfect, but how can we expect God to answer our prayers when we doubt an answer will ever come? How can we approach a holy God and expect Him to listen to our requests when we live a lifestyle that knowingly disregards His principles?
I hope these questions have prompted some thoughts about your own prayer life – thinking deeper about WHAT you are about to do when you pray and WHO you are really praying to.
I have discovered prayer is more about seeking God’s heart, His wisdom, and His purposes than it is about my own ways and desires. It’s about faithful expectancy and humble remorse more so than selfish requests and a doubtful, questioning heart.
It’s about really connecting to who we are praying to – a loving, omniscient, holy, purpose-filled God who is ACTIVELY involved in our life well before we pray for intervention. His ways are beyond questioning and His purposes are right and just.
I’ve come to realize prayer isn’t pleading, begging or convincing God to see it my way. It’s about trusting, seeking, and desiring God’s will to be accomplished in every aspect of my life.
I hope like me you begin to pray a little differently tonight my friend 😊