A few weeks ago in church, a sermon on wholehearted prayer rocked my world. Prayer is something that is important in my life and pretty darn important in my marriage yet when I pull apart the pieces of my prayer life, I see so much slack and brokenness. There are few things that are more essential to knowing God than prayer. Prayer is such a sweet blessing given to us by God through Jesus Christ on the cross and allows our interaction with him to be more than just facts but a 2 way relationship.
But we struggle with it.
With struggle with having passion, zeal, consistency with prayer. Our prayers seem supernatural, uncomfortable, and unattainable. There are many nights where I lay in bed waiting to drift off to sleep and remember a few things I wanted to pray about so I give God 30 seconds and I'm out of words. It's easy for us to think that is enough for Him but do we half ass our conversations with our spouses? Do we check the boxes in our heads of things we want to share when talking with our closest friends and family? How quick and efficiently can I get this over with? That is what prayer is like to most, if not all, of us believers.
Tyler, who spoke at The Stone, really opened my eyes when he said often ties we feel like we need (and deserve) a next step rather than bended knee. Jon and I were talking about this very thing last night. We want God to provide the good yet when there is pain in our lives, we demand immediate answers and satisfaction and blame Him for not providing that. Our will becomes more important than His. Tyler also spent a good chunk of time talking about the amazing miracles God performs through people who lack theology or the bible, but have wholehearted prayer. Wholehearted prayer moves God to do the impossible.
Through studying the gospel of Mark (specifically Mark 11:22-25), we uncovered 3 ways we must submit to wholehearted prayer.
1. Our prayers must be to God- there is no power in positive thinking or mantras unless you are praying to God. I know there are whole books and lifestyles about how positive thinking can change lives and I am not saying that is wrong, but God wants you to stop relying on yourself and cry out to Him for help. Unfortunately there are even famous pastors who preach positive thinking being the key to success in life. We are missing out on the power of God. Everyday I fall victim to thinking about my prayers than avidly participating in a conversation with God. Someone on Twitter asks for prayer and I respond I will pray for them, yet am I taking the time to beg for mercy on their lives and in their hearts? Is my heart in the prayer?
2. Our prayers are through Jesus- because of the cross of Christ, we have full access to God. So when we pray, it's as if Jesus is praying to the Father. What a precious gift that we don't deserve!
3. Our prayers must have faith- our prayers move God to act when we actually believe He can. The thing about our God is He is omniscient...sometimes that's easy for us to forget when we continue to sin and try to hide things from Him. God wants our hearts to be in it!
"You desire but do not have because you did not ask God" -James 4:2
The fact that sat with me the most, and continues to weigh on my heart is that halfhearted prayers do not honor God. I give me all to my job, my friendships, my marriage, yet I can't give it all to the one who gave me everlasting life and freedom? One of the most amazing thing about our God is that through His sovereignty, He allows our prayers to play an active role in His will. He will be done, but He isn't the puppeteer of your life. Prayers are the means to the end, which is His will. The hard thing to remember and accept is He does say no to prayers. Even Jesus, who lived 33 years without sin, heard no from God (Mark 14:35-36 Jesus knows of the horrific death he is about to die and asks if it is God's will, for it to pass him). And because God told Jesus no, you and I are made blameless before the throne. Now that is some powerful stuff. Think back to the times you've heard no from God and connect the dots to the doors He's opened. He is good, His providence is incredible, and He has the power to do the impossible.
This sermon was a lot for me to take in and just because I heard it doesn't mean my prayer life has ultimately changed and I do not struggle. This sermon opened my eyes to the areas that need improving, helping foster such a deeper relationship with The Lord in just 2 weeks. I find myself using the following phrase so much more, knowing that 2,000 years ago, Jesus said these very words. "Not what I will Lord, but what You will". I know I will never take the selfishness out of my life and my prayer but truly trusting that His will is greater, more powerful, more thought out, more precious, than mine, is a start.