Q: What is prayer?
A: Prayer is an offering up of our desires unto God, for things agreeable to his will, in the name of Christ, with confession of our sins, and thankful acknowledgment of his mercies. (taken from the Westminster Catechism)
Yes, it’s warfare, intercession, urgently pleading, claiming promises, giving thanks, repenting and confessing sins, seeking wisdom,… and it’s comfortable conversation and an “offering up our desires unto God”.
Not everything about prayer is intense and earnest. This especially comes to mind when I think of “praying without ceasing” (1 Thes.5:17). It’s talking about anything and everything.
It’s reverence and worship, awe struck speechlessness in the presence of Holiness combined with the gospel, the good news of the “AD” relationship with God that was a “BC” mystery, a new possibility for us all after the Law was satisfied and a mediator was given.
Prayer is an uncommon friendship, something the prophets told of and “angels long to look into” (1 Peter 1:12).
“The friendship of the LORD is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant.” Psalm 25:14 (ESV) “The secret of the LORD…” NAS, KJV “The LORD confides in…” (NIV)
“No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:15)
Prayer is the freedom found in knowing the love of a Father for His child, a freedom to ask expectantly.
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:7-11)
“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ…” (Romans 8:14-17)
“This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,…” (Matthew 6:9)
Prayer is intimacy, as with a Husband and His Bride.
“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body… the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. ” (Ephesians 5:25-32)
The book of Revelation speaking of Christ and His Bride the Church and also the Song of Solomon picturing the love affair of God with His Chosen Ones both echo this theme.
When you know each other so well, when his desires become your desires, and your desires are his, when nothing would make you happier than to make them happy,… marriage is bliss. Life is hard, but then you come home to each other. This, marriage, is a picture of what Christ and the Church should be, can be, … is.
But, like some friends that I pray for regularly with broken relationships that are not all they could be (with complicated or destructive friendships, dysfunctional households, and strained marriages), not everyone that claims to be a friend of God, a child of God, or part of the Church (the Bride of Christ) enjoys the healthy and thriving relationship with God in prayer that should be (and could be) theirs in Christ.
“Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4)
We show reverence and honor that is due Him, but there is a familiarity that the believers of the New Testament have, those of us that have believed the words of Christ the Messiah said and are filled with the moment by moment Presence of the Living God by the Holy Spirit experience that is “friendly”, “parental”, “intimate”.
It’s New Testament abiding, walking in, dwelling in, delighting in… It’s my whole world wrapped up in Him. It’s abundant life. And, with this type of relationship comes some “perks”.
In addition to all the promises, the fellowship, guidance, etc… we are given permission to “ask”.
It is my desire to give Him everything He asks and more, everything He could possibly want. I want to bless my LORD. And, my Abba, my Friend, loves to give me signs of His affection for me, too, good gifts…
- a parrot costume hanging in a Goodwill window
- a piano and a snowplow
- a trip to Israel
- a child, the child I long prayed for
- and ooooooh, sooooooo much more…. (and each comes with a God-story!!!)
Did you know God made you with favorites and preferences? And, He knows them all. Did it ever occur to you that He likes you, and He enjoys surprising you? (BTW – nothing ruins a surprise like an impatient friend, a demanding child, or a nagging wife wanting “now” what may or may not be what the Giver wants to give.) Did you ever think that He loves to see you light up when you see your favorite color, taste your favorite food, hear a long-missed voice,…? Do you think He doesn’t know your desires? He does, but He also says, “ask“.
Like a Husband with His Wife, we are to seek to know His desires as well as to let our desires be known. This, in part, means not confusing desires and longings of our heart with lusting, coveting. He can not give us the desires of our heart when we don’t know His greatest desires for our good and we confuse comparing and wanting what we see with finding contentment.
But, if your heart is truly seeking His, then when it comes to prayer, go ahead, ask away!
Please pardon my rambling if it seems I’m going on and on, but this is one of the areas where prayer breaks my heart wide-open and the discipline of “prayer” is transformed into nearness, realness, and comfort from my Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. This is where I have the ah-ha, “You know me!” moments of wonder; because He didn’t have to, it wasn’t a need, it wasn’t an urgent request, it was something deeper…
Behind the asking was an ache, or a question, or a dream, or something long missed, or an empty place, or an earnestly seeking for a sign, or a hope, or a disappointment,… there was something of me with my heart hanging out there. Sometimes it was even a vague request, but He heard it and answered VERY SPECIFICLY, like with the parrot costume.
So, here it is, one of the last seven “best of my life” challenges…
Today’s Challenge is:
Make a WISH LIST
More than a just “wish list” (and please don’t get hung-up on the word “wish”), make a list of favorites. You can keep it simple and kind of vague, or make it very detailed and specific.
- North Korea
Whisper a “thank you” prayer for each. You don’t need to write it down. But, here’s a few examples…
- LORD, you know I love blue. Thank you for giving me a favorite.
- Father, thank you for creating lemons and letting people invent lemon filled donuts.
Then, keep that list and keep adding to it, but be watching to see what the LORD does. Write down beside each item anything specific that He does or surprises you with or reminds you of that He’s done for you in the past that is related to something particular on your list.
There’s something about thanking Him that opens up miracles and windows of blessing. Sometimes the miracle is just having our eyes open to appreciate all He has done, but I’ve found the more I applaud Him, the more He delights me… So, I applaud more, and He surprises me more.
I pray He surprises you today. That He gives you “your favorite” in such a way that you know it was Him giving it especially to you. Be looking for it. Don’t miss it. And thank Him when He does.
Mediate on these verses:
Instead of giving you a list of verses, you have two options:
Reread and mediate on the verses featured in the paragraphs above.