North Point Community Church is currently in the middle of a great series (Red Letters Prayers) on prayer. In the 1st part Any Stanley provides the best explanation of prayer I have heard – you can listen / watch it here: http://www.northpoint.org/messages/red-letter-prayers. This series really got me thinking about prayer – why do we pray, how should we prayer, when should we pray.
So why do we pray? Do we treat God, as Chip Ingram likes to say, as a “cosmic vending machine” expecting Him to answer our every wish? Do we pray to try to convince God to give us our wants and desires? Do we pray hoping God will deliver us from our circumstances? So why do we pray? Maybe a better question is why should we pray – what should be the purpose of our prayers?
God tells us very directly in His word:
- Spending time on our knees with our Father provides us with peace – Phil 4:6-7: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
- As we spend more time in prayer we move from praying for our wants to wanting God’s will for our lives – Matt 6:9-10 “This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
- The more we sit at His feet, the more we pray to Him, and the more we pray with His Spirit, the more we become like our Lord Jesus – 2 Corinthians 3:17-18 “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
Eugenia Brown, a history instructor at Edgewood College, has this great perspective on prayer. “Prayer is not so much as a grocery list of wants or a way to change God’s mind, but rather as a way to regain perspective in our relationship with God. We pray to deepen our relationship with God. We pray to remind ourselves of our place of humility, to remind ourselves that God is God, and we are not. To submit to God in prayer changes us. God loves us enough to want to transform us into all that He created us to be, but we must cooperate in that transformation. Every time we pray, we cooperate just a little bit more.”
I don’t know about you but I cannot be the person God wants me to be unless I have this perspective on prayer. I cannot be the person God wants me to be unless I spend a considerable amount of time in prayer becoming transformed – otherwise the flesh takes over and I squelch the Holy Spirit.
I will leave you with this quote from the Red Letter Prayer series: “Do we really want a god that we can bend towards our will?”
In His Service,