God is Good, God is Great
So many of us have been taught to pray since we were little. When I wake up, before I eat, before I go to bed, and whenever times get tough, I know to close my eyes, fold my hands, and say a prayer. I have recited the same prayers countless times because that is what I was taught to do. Looking back, I know that God was happy with my obedience, but I can't help but wonder if He got a little bored hearing the same things over and over again.
Recently, I have come across some scriptures that have really made me think about my current prayer habits. God has a way of subtly hinting to us about areas of our lives that may be in need of some revamping. Then, just a few months ago, our Bible study teacher told us that for 8 weeks, we were going to go through a Prayer Bootcamp. This was exactly the focus that I needed to get my prayer life on track.
If We Call, He Will Answer
Throughout the 8 weeks of our Prayer Bootcamp, I began looking at prayer like I never had before. Little by little, I began to compare it to a phone call from one of my children. After all, I am a child of God and prayer is my direct line of communication with Him.
As I relate this to a phone call, I am going to focus on my 14-year-old daughter, Jazelle. When I see her face pop up on my phone, I immediately feel a sense of comfort and do whatever I can to answer no matter what I may be doing. Regardless of the reason she is calling, it just makes me feel good to know that she is.
This is the exact feeling that God gets when we call on His name. Psalm 17:6 says, "I call on you, my God, for you will answer me; turn your ear to me and hear my prayer." To think about the number of prayers that God hears at any given moment is absolutely overwhelming to us. But that is not for us to understand. What we need to understand is that He is always there to listen. His phone is never on silent, and He is never too busy to answer.
And just like I get a good feeling when Jazelle is reaching out to me, God is pleased with us when we seek Him.
Share Some Good News
I don't know about you, but as a teacher, I have always been taught to lead with the positives. There is always one student that has struggled, and I am a bit worried about how parent/teacher conferences will go. Instead of just jumping into the missing assignments, disrespectful behavior, and overall struggles, I like to find (and sometimes I have to DIG for) some positives to share with the parents. This will hopefully help open the door of communication so I can begin discussing the areas that need attention.
If I began our conference on a negative note, chances are, the parents would not be as receptive of what I have to share. This may also cause a lack of support when it comes to making necessary changes for their child.
Once again, God is the same way. If we only go to Him when something is wrong, I have to think that He may get a bit turned off by the constant negativity. Now don't get me wrong, He will still be there to listen, but I know He would appreciate hearing some positives as well. Psalm 100:4 tells us, "Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name."
Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise!
As we begin our prayer time each day, we need to enter His presence with thanksgiving. Tell God what you are thankful for. Even when times feel overwhelming and terrible, there is always something to be thankful for. A roof over your head, a vehicle that runs, healthy children, a beautiful sunrise. There is always something. Instead of bombarding God with all your wants and needs, take time to thank Him for all that He has done for you. Let Him know just how amazing He is!
After all, Jazelle knows she shouldn't just call and ask for $20. She needs to ease into that part of the conversation. You know, let me know how cool I am, how nice my hair looks, and how she couldn't live without me! ☺️ As parents, we all know that handing over that $20 is much easier if our child respects us and is truly thankful for and appreciative of the things we do for them. Our Father in heaven is the same way.
He is Always There to Help
I can usually tell Jazelle's exact mood the moment I pick up the phone. As much as she tries to hide when something is wrong, my mother-instinct is able to see (or hear) right through it. And when I know she is hurting, I immediately internalize that same pain. Whether the hurt is physical or emotional, I want to do anything I can to "fix" the situation. Sadly, I am not always able to do that for her.
Thankfully, the Father that we seek when we are struggling is able to help us overcome any of our challenges. We serve a God that performs miracles everyday. And no matter what, we can have the faith and peace in knowing that He is in control of every situation. We may not understand why we are going through the things we are, but we have to know that He hears our cries. We are reassured by Psalm 107:13 that says, "Then they cried to the Lord in their troubles and He rescued them!" God is always present to rescue us. We just have to seek Him and call on His name in faith.
Get to the Point
We all know that one person that can make a 30-second story into a 6-minute performance. If any of you have family members that hunt or fish, I am sure you can relate. You know how it goes, "There, standing across the field, just on the other side of the ravine, was the biggest buck I had ever seen in my life. The wind was blowing out of the south just a bit more than I would have liked. Off to my left there were a couple squirrels gathering nuts for the winter...and so on and so on."
In the end, my husband gets the deer and I have spent precious minutes of my life hearing about wind, squirrels, and whatever else managed to get into the story. Now don't get me wrong, I love hearing these stories. It makes my smile hearing a grown man get excited and share all of his adventures.
It's time to get to the point!
But my point is, we do not want to be like that hunter or fisherman when we are seeking God in prayer. Just like when Jazelle calls to ask for $20, I don't want her going on and on about all kinds of nonsense. I want her to tell me what she needs it for, to reassure me that she will spend it wisely, and I want her to ask nicely. God wants that same thing from us. Be straightforward with Him. Let Him know what you want or need, give Him a brief explanation of why you want or need it, and then ask nicely.
He clearly tells us that He prefers simple, straightforward prayers in Matthew 6:7. It says, "And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words." We will not be heard because we have the most words to say. God will hear us because of our faith in Him and our willingness to seek Him in all situations.
You Must Listen
Just like any conversation, there is a time to talk and there is a time to listen. This is probably my biggest struggle when praying. I have a tendency to thank God for all He has done, ask Him for anything that I am currently needing, say amen, and go on my way. I can't imagine answering a phone call from Jazelle, hearing her thank me for something I recently did, asking me to pick her up after practice, hear her say goodbye, and then CLICK. Gone. She hangs up before I can even get a word in edge-wise.
It makes me sad to thing about all the times I have done that to God. How many times did I "hang up" before allowing Him to speak to me? How many amazing messages did I miss out on because I didn't take a moment to listen to what He had to say? It is time we start treating prayer like a conversation. We must talk, but we also must listen.
In your journal, take a moment to jot down areas of your prayer life that you would like to focus on. Then, put a plan in action. God, just like our earthly parents, appreciates commitment and effort and will be pleased with your actions.
I pray that the words you have read will cause a stirring within you to create a deeper connection with Your Father in heaven. I pray that your prayer life is strengthened and your faith in God continuously increases.
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