How is your prayer life?
For most Christians, our first reaction to this inquiry is a palpable twinge of guilt. Then this is typically followed by some type of quantitative response. Something like: “Well, I should be praying much more often.”
But what about the quality of our prayer life? Is there such a thing? And if so, how do we measure that?
Try answering this question:
How many times do we pray for opportunities to share Jesus BEFORE requests to improve our health, finances or family situation?
Admittedly, it’s dangerous ground to be discussing quality when it comes to prayer. Aren’t we encouraged to bring all of our needs to God? Isn’t all prayer beneficial? Don’t all discussions with the Creator of the Universe bring us closer in our relationship with Him?
Yes. We are encouraged to pray without ceasing, to be in a constant dialog with God and to rest our cares at the foot of the cross.
But isn’t it also true that if we are not careful, our prayer life can look more like a daily trip to the gumball machine? We insert our quarter, turn the crank and expect God to send our desired response down through the chute. And if it doesn’t happen soon enough for our tastes we start giving the machine a firm whack on its side.
Here is what Jesus says regarding our petitions to Him:
“Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing,
and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”
When Jesus said we should ask “in my name” He means we are to make our requests with His heart and will so that “the Father may be glorified in the Son.”
This requires us to first know and understand His heart and will. We must be passionate about learning all we can about Him. This means spending time in his word and in prayer with Him. But prayer where we are asking about His desires rather than one way discussions where we’re just downloading ours.
The power in our petitions comes from Christ-centered, selfless, agape-type prayer.
Years ago I caught myself in the habit of what I would term as self-centered prayer. Whenever I was approaching an automobile accident nearby my home or hear sirens close by I would automatically pray, “Please Lord, let it not be any of my family or friends.”
Now while I can’t be faulted for wanting my family and friends to be safe, I realized the accident victims were somebody’s family or friends even if they weren’t mine. In fact, they were also God’s family and friends.
I made a simple heart adjustment to this prayer. “Please Lord, let no one be hurt.”
Yet, more often than not, I find myself deep in gumball machine prayer. I want relief from my financial burdens. Strong health. An excellent home life. Peace and joy in my marriage.
Again, these are good, legitimate requests, but these petitions are also not straying too far from my own personal hut. If my prayer life is consumed with merely trying to better my earthly circumstances I’ll miss out on the Heavenly impact God had intended for me.
The Bible shares many examples of individuals praying with a heart for others. We have Stephen who as he was being stoned to death for preaching the Gospel prayed for God to have mercy on his assailants. Or Moses, who pleaded for the Heavenly Father to forgive the obstinate, ungrateful people he was leading. Then there was Job, who after losing all of his possessions, got on his knees and prayed to the Almighty with fervor.
Then, of course, there was Jesus who prayed from the cross for the very people who were crucifying Him.
Our prayer is a window to our heart and soul. How deeply do we care about others? How much are we in tune with the heart and will of God?
Instead of coming before Him with a “what have you done for me lately?” heart, we can choose to approach with a “how may I serve you?” attitude.
For most of us, this is a radical approach to prayer.
We may just discover that while we’ve been spending so much time clamoring for gumballs, all along God wanted to give us the whole candy store. A much deeper and significant service to Him.
Prayer with the heart of our Savior. That’s powerful prayer. Life-changing prayer. Eternally significant prayer.
So how do we begin? Here’s one idea. How about starting our prayer time each day with a new…and courageous question:
“What should I pray for today, Lord?”
Then listen. You might just hear the gumballs starting to roll.
Enjoying Michael’s words of encouragement? You may enjoy the wonderful The Game of Life
Michael K. Reynolds is the writer and producer of Emmy and Telly Award-winning film campaigns and has more than two decades of experience in fiction, journalism, copywriting, and documentary production. He owns Global Studio, a marketing agency, and is also an active leader in church and business, speaking in both ministry and corporate settings. Michael lives with his wife and three children in Reno, Nevada.
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