Praying 2.0

I am not satisfied with my prayer life. But who is? Well, maybe you are; I don’t know. But I am not. I am convinced that we pray mostly out of selfish desires. We pray for things to happen—things we believe we need, things that we believe God should want for us! And sometimes we are right. But mostly . . . well . . . mostly we don’t know what we need at all. But what are we to do? Pray! But let’s take our prayer to the next level. Let’s call it Praying 2.0.

     Prayer is not just about asking for what we want or even yielding to what God wants. It is much more than that. Sometimes praying is like venting. We talk and spill our thoughts and wishes to God.  It’s like uncluttering our minds and casting our burdens on the Lord—all good things to do. In our talking we sometimes remind God about prayers we have already prayed and that’s okay, too, but totally unnecessary because God heard us the first time! If our prayers sound repetitive to us, then it is probably because we are constantly reminding God of what we need! So, perhaps it is time to lift our prayer life to a different level; that is, instead of praying for things, let’s pray for perspective—like Paul. Or even better, let’s memorize some of Paul’s prayers and pray his prayers.

     Here’s a good one: “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations forever and ever. Amen.”1

     If we want our prayer life to improve, we need to become better pray-ers, so that we can witness God’s answers—which often go unnoticed because we are not very good listeners! So, as we pray like Paul, one thing we must remember to do is listen for his voice, which is heard “through his Spirit in our inner being.” This particular prayer is about accessing the mighty power of Christ, which lives in us!

     So, how do we do that? Well, without analyzing this prayer in detail, we can generally see two things: 1) we need to grasp the depth of God’s love for us, and 2) we need to understand that God wants to do more than “all we ask or imagine.”  Perhaps our prayers are too specific! After all, did Paul pray for specific things to occur? Not very often. Instead, he prays that we “may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” And he believes that “fullness of God” will enable us to expect “immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.”  In Ephesians 1, Paul prays for “the Spirit of wisdom,” and the “revelation in the knowledge.”  He prays that our hearts are “enlightened” and for us to know the “hope to which he has called” us. And that we would know “the riches of his glorious inheritance,” and “the immeasurable greatness of his power.”2 That’s how Paul prays!

     Our prayers sometimes sound like a laundry list or a medical report. We mostly ask God for things to happen. But Paul doesn’t pray like that. He prays for spiritual perspective of things instead.  By contrast, our specific prayers are quite narrow and small. Of course, sometimes it is good to be very precise, but maybe we should start including a spiritual perspective of those things that concern us. For example, if we need guidance, read or better yet, recite Psalm 32:8. And then pray, Lord, instruct me in fill in the blank. Lord, counsel me as I consider fill in the blank.  Or when we are not sure about a choice, read or better yet, recite Philippians 1:9-11. And then pray, Lord, give me discernment as I decide fill in the blank.  Praying scripture is as close to our thoughts being God’s thoughts and our ways becoming his ways is ever going to be.

     Another way to lift our prayer life to the second level is to learn the power of waiting on God. It seems to me we spend more time waiting on God than actually serving him! That can’t be right, can it? Umm. Maybe. You see, I am beginning to think that the waiting is the serving! Hmm. There are countless scripture verses on waiting, so let’s just sum it up with this great one: “I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore, I will wait for him.’ The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.”3

     And there it is. A few small steps that could push our prayers to the next level: Praying 2.0.

     Why not start now?

1Ephesians 3:16-21      2Ephesians 1:17-19     3Lamentations 3:24-26

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