Recently I have been giving a great deal of thought to the topic of prayer. Along with this I find that my prayer life is more lively and attentive. While it is seemingly normal for a Christian to ponder and engage in the realities of intercession there are several items that seem to have brought the idea to my attention in a more abrupt fashion.
First of all, my wife and I bought an iPad about a month ago. I know, we are obviously not early adopters of technology, but due to work situations and some other factors we felt it would be a good purchase, and indeed it has been. One benefit I have experienced thus far is an app called myPraypal. There is nothing fancy about this particular app, it is there to let you input prayer requests. It allows you to categorize requests, note answered prayers, and also enable notifications via email and text to remind you to pray throughout the day, but it is quite simple nonetheless. This app gave me a shocking realization: I have rarely, if ever, used a prayer list on a consistent basis. Obviously God is not some cosmic Santa Claus that we just demand gifts from, but it is also equally apparent that someone like the apostle Paul prayed for people specifically in his letters. Either the guy had a keen memory, or he somehow made a list to remember the people he met in his journeys. Regardless, I need a list if I am going to pray for myself, my family and friends, praise God for His greatness, confess sin, thank God for His good gifts, that He would glorify Himself among all the peoples of the world, and a host of other things. This app had “upgraded” my prayer life big time, I encourage you to figure that out for yourself and pray accordingly.
Another factor that has had an impact on my prayer life is a book entitled “A Praying Life” by Paul Miller. I cannot begin to communicate the depth of the impact this book has had on me, and while I will not bore you with a full-blown book review here, I will say it is well worth your time. Two of the most impactful chapters in the book for me dealt with the issue of cynicism. Not everyone deals with this issue, but I do. I view life skeptically, never wanting to put myself too far out there, lest I be hurt by someone or something. This undercuts our prayer life, and it shows a lack of trust in the Creator God who loves us and gave His Son for us. Additionally where cynicism is present faith is absent, and faith is a key component of prayer. Miller makes several helpful points, but two stick out for me: hope in God and give thanks. I need to constantly meditate on Psalm 42 and 43 wherein the psalmist states, “Why are you downcast, o my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him, my salvation and my God.” Regarding thankfulness, Miller states, “Nothing undercuts cynicism more than a spirit of thankfulness. You begin to realize that your whole life is a gift.” I am working, by God’s grace, to embrace these truths and pray more effectively than I ever have.
One final component in my “prayer resurgence” is the fact that for the past few months Rachel and I have been working on memorizing the book of Ephesians. What an edifying practice. God’s Word is alive and active, and when we can memorize we are then enabled to meditate on His Word. I could say much about the first three chapters, but pertinent to this topic are two prayers uttered by the apostle.
For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places.
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Much could be said regarding these prayers, but the application I most readily derive is that I need to let the Scriptures more readily shape my prayers. Prayer and Word must intermingle, they should continually feed into one another, and in so doing we enrich both. Thus I am grateful to a God who continues to grow me in ways that I would scarcely expect, He is good and His love endures.