Prayer. Such a small word for such a powerful thing. It’s our opportunity to talk with someone that we are completely unworthy to even be in the presence of. But do we treat it that way? Do we pray as if the ground is about to crumble beneath our feet? As if it’s the only thing that sustains us? Do we pray as if we’re being listened to by the God of the universe? Because we are. So shouldn’t we be praying like it?
In this article we’re going to talk about a few things, we’re going to challenge ourselves in a few things, and hopefully by the time we’re done we’ll be praying like never before.
Invitation from God – from Prayer to Praise
As Christians we have a covenant with God. He desires, beyond words, for us to know him personally. He wants us to pray to him, to talk to him. This is not something to be made impossible or taken for granted. We CAN talk to God, just as simply as we talk to one another, and in turn He will LISTEN.
In Jeremiah 33:3 it says, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things.” This is our invitation. He tells us to CALL to him and he will ANSWER us. There are always times when we feel forgotten, when we feel as if his answer has been lost in the wind, but it has not. His answers aren’t always yes or no, sometimes they are WAIT. But do we even deserve a yes when he gives us one? He has always been faithful, but have we? It takes a call to get an answer. Scripture never says to think our prayers, but to SHOUT them, to CALL OUT. How often do we actually shout to God? This isn’t an invitation to keep dwelling in our shame and quietly say something to God, as if you were following a ritual. This is an invitation, a challenge even, to exert our energy towards crying out to him, unashamed… an invitation to change our timid prayers into shouts of praise.
Will you accept it?
Our Hacking Cough – Praying Always
Calling out is one thing, but doing it always is another.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Our joy, prayers, and thankfulness should not be based on circumstances or feelings. Our prayer should be constant. A hacking cough, if you will – that we can’t get rid of. Because let’s be honest, how often do we plea with God until our knees are raw? How often do we call to him until our voices are gone?
I’m not going to touch anymore on this, because a bit down the road you’ll have the opportunity to read an ENTIRE article about persistent prayer, BUT I still wanted to mention it, because it’s easier to be consistent when you’re whispering your prayers, but it’s more of a challenge when you’re shouting them, right? I mean, if our prayer is a small, timid whisper that never grows into a shout, than what does the rest of our faith look like? Is our belief, our faith, as timid and as quiet as well?
Enemies & Weapons – Flesh vs. Prayer
We just had an entire month of talking about nothing else but the armor of God. But I guess we weren’t quite done, were we?
Ephesians 6:18-20 says, “And PRAY in the spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on PRAYING for all the saints. PRAY also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. PRAY that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.”
I clearly capitalized those words for a reason. Take a wild guess at what you think might be our greatest weapon against our enemies…. that’s right! PRAYER. In case you missed it, we need to PRAY, PRAY, and… oh, yeah… PRAY. I want you to underline a word in your Bible for me, and believe it or not, that word isn’t what you think may think it is. I want you to underline “fearlessly”.
Is it possible to be fearless in our spiritual war? The answer to that is: Do you trust God?
God is faithful. He has provided us with example after example in the scriptures of times he has proved his faithfulness. One example is in Psalm 18:3, where it says: “I call to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I am saved from my enemies.” Something will always try to get in the way of us, and our prayers. But if we trust in God, that he will hear us and answer us when we call out to him, those things – those earthly hindrances…well, they just don’t stand a chance against prayer…and more specifically, God. Huge enemies of prayer are: anger, fear, doubt, selfishness, and shame. But at the same time, it’s those very things that can force us to press into God, and that’s what we need. Don’t be ashamed of those enemies, but don’t let them control you or your prayer life either. There needs to be a balance between letting them win and embracing them.
Whatever you’re struggling with, though, just remember: Prayer is the greatest weapon to defeat the flesh.
Shattered Glass – Praying in Pieces
Nobody likes the cracked vase. The splintered picture frame. The broken things that could shatter at any moment.. But you know what? It’s an amazing thing to be broken.
I used to hate it. Actually, I still do sometimes. But I was never supposed to be perfect, no one was. And I’ve slowly been learning that that’s a good thing. “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weakness, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)
Why weakness? Brokenness? Why am I talking about shattered glass? Because we need to understand something very important before we challenge ourselves to cry out to God. We need to realize that brokenness is understanding our DESPERATE NEED for God. We need to understand that needing God means needing the relationship we have with him, which means that we need to be willing to kneel down in our own mess, our shattered glass, and cry out to him with every fiber in us.
We cannot do this on our own. And it’s about time that we faced that truth. “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” (Psalm 51:17)
He wants it all. He wants every piece of us. And more than that, he wants us to rejoice in our weakness. Because ONLY then are we STRONG. Because of Christ Jesus. Because his power is made PERFECT in every mess of ours, every mistake, everything that makes us weak, and every broken piece. We need to embrace that knowledge, so that in those times, of frustration and anger, we can know that God’s power is being made perfect. And so that in those times, we know that when we talk to God it is no longer just a whisper, it is a shout into an endless void, a call into a desert, a cry unto God. A cry made by using every part of us, EVEN the broken parts. We MUST learn to PRAY IN PIECES.
Psalm 51:15: “Oh Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.”
Rescue – Trusting God as we Pray
Trust. Easier said than done, right? But what would be the point of calling out to God, if we didn’t trust he’d answer? It’s not going to be easy. But we must patiently trust and patiently wait for God.
He is faithful.
Psalm 40:1-3 says, “I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in God.”
I believe we have seen, and I believe we trust. Even if that trust falters at times, and we know it will. This is something you need to remember as you call out to God, that he IS our rock. God IS our rescue.
Whispers and Shouts – The Side Note
I need to make something very clear before we finish up. A few times I mentioned whispering prayers versus shouting them, and I need you to understand that I in no way meant you cannot whisper your prayers. A quiet plea into the night is just as powerful as a shout. But something that we are struggling with, more often than we realize, is learning to call to God, to pour out our hearts to him and use all our energy in doing so. We are trapped in this ritual of saying what we need to, even if we’ve prayed that prayer a million times, or being timid and shameful as we pray, as if talking to our Savior embarrasses us. And we so desperately need to change that. So my little side note to you, is whether you pray in whispers or shouts, call out to God.
The Call to Cry Out – My Challenge to You
We need to focus on HOW we’re praying, not HOW MUCH we are. So here’s my challenge to you:
Accept that invitation. Your relationship with Jesus Christ is SO incredibly important, and he desires for you to call out to him. I urge you to abandon yourself in every moment and let your shame fall off your weary shoulders. Be fearless. Declare where you stand, on the Rock of Ages. Hold your ground. Let your prayer be the rock in a raging river, the constant in your life. Embrace your weakness. Let your brokenness drive you to Christ. Let it drive you to your knees in prayer, until you’re too weak and you fall to your face, and even then, don’t let anything stop you. Scream your praise, shout your thanks, and call out with your entire being. Think of Joan of Arc as she burned at the stake. The last word to leave her lips was “JESUS”…and she cried it out for the entire crowd to hear, she made it her final shout. Even in death, she called out to God. So like her, use all your energy, everything in you, to cry out to him. Always. You see, we’ve been missing it. We haven’t been able to grasp what prayer really is. We haven’t realized the urgency of the word call and what it should mean. It should mean you laying everything you are and everything you’ve done, abandoning it all – all the fear, and anger, and shame – to call out to God.
This is the challenge. This is the call to cry out.