There is a mystery to prayer—a way God works in it that we don’t fully understand. But God persistently invites us to pray, showing us through His word and Spirit how and why we should turn our voices to Him, exhorting us to never give it up. Even so, many of us only pray when we’re troubled.
Such a tendency may reveal a one-dimensional view of God and prayer. Our view of prayer both impacts and is changed by our view of God. Here are desperately needed reminders for how and why we pray, followed by 7 prayers to help you open up your heart to God.
Prayer is central to relationship with God.
When God tells us to pray without ceasing (Thessalonians 5:17), He reveals to us a part of the nature and purpose of prayer. Prayer is a function of our relationship with the Almighty, not just an obligatory part of serving God. In a marriage, spouses communicate with each other often. Sometimes it’s noisy banter, sometimes deep conversation. If we don’t communicate, we grow apart.
In the same vein, when we talk to God it is known as prayer. As we would in conversation with a friend, we use words to articulate our thoughts when we pray. If the words don’t come, he intercedes for us, better than any human relationship. But when we don’t pray, our relationship is stunted.
Prayer helps us practice tuning out distraction .
In prayer, some of us can focus and can talk with God for hours, while some of us struggle with attention as we talk to our Heavenly Father. It might seem sometimes that only when we pray we remember that one item on our To Do list that didn’t get done. But as we blurt out those distractions, through God’s amazing grace, we can release them to God and then continue our sweet fellowship with Him.
Prayer is meant for every mood, moment, or circumstance.
Prayer is a way for us to give expression to the state of our hearts before God. We can sing or pray the words of the Bible to send thoughts in heaven’s direction. We may also pray when we aren’t in the mood, when we are down, depressed, dismal or angry. When we pray without ceasing, it implies that our feelings do not always cooperate with us. We are often led to pray when times are tough, often lamenting our circumstances.
Maybe it’s why we have tough times so that we can draw closer to Him, magnifying the reality of our relationship with him. But we also pray and praise like David did with abandon when we see His hand at work in our lives. In the book of Psalms, every emotion is expressed as the psalmist talks to God, so we know that we can do the same.
Prayer is for remembering “God with Us.”
We pray when we feel alone, for the very act of praying changes us. When we are lonely here on earth, when it feels like not another living soul understands us, when we don’t have the comfort of earthly friendship and fellowship, it is this loneliness that drives us to our knees. In our loneliness, as we talk to him, we are comforted because we know he hears and cares, that he is Emmanuel and always with us.
Miraculously God opens our hearts, changing us so we are willing to connect with the people in our path, for God promises us that we are never alone. Pray in the knowledge that God is with you, although you may not feel His presence.
As we learn to pray regardless of circumstances, we begin to know the heart of who we pray to on a different level. The more we pray, the more we see its effects, for prayer not only changes circumstances, but it also changes us. It works through and builds on our faith. Cast your cares on someone greater than you.
Let these 7 prayers inspire you and open your heart in new ways as you approach your time with God.
1. A Thankful Heart
“Lord with a grateful heart I humbly approach you. You made me, this world and everything in it. Thank you Lord for my life; I’m breathing, and I can praise you. My life may not be what I envisioned, but I’m here, and I’m grateful. Even more, Lord, thank you for thinking of me, for having precious thoughts toward me and for dying for me. Thank you for the sacrificial love you have towards me. With the love you have shown me, may I love as you have loved.”
2. Thy Will Be Done
“Your son prayed that you would take the cup from Him so that he wouldn’t have to go through the pain and humiliation of death by crucifixion. We see now that, had he not died, there would not be a way for us to know you. Sometimes our circumstances seem unbearable, and we’d rather not go through them. Teach us in our tough circumstances to lean on you; open our eyes, so we begin to see things from a heavenly perspective and have a peace and confidence that you are working all things for our good.”
3. Redeem My Circumstances
“Lord I have not been perfect. I have not lived a perfect, sinless life; only you did that. In my imperfections I have made bad decisions; I have mistreated others. Lord, I ask for forgiveness, and then I ask for restoration. I know Lord that you are a Redeemer and a Restorer and that you can restore the years the locusts have stolen. I know that friendships can be restored, finances can thrive again, and sickness can be removed. We know our hope is not wasted when it is in you.”
4. Give Us Strength as We Persist in Prayer
“Lord many of us have prayed for a specific thing for what seems a long time. We forget that our time is not your time and so it seems like an eternity to us. Help us to persist in prayer as we increase our faith. Help us to trust that you are working and that in your time, the right time, there will be an answer. Help us not to grow weary as we wait.”
5. I Believe, Help Thou My Unbelief
“Oh God, I know that you are greater than any unbelief in my heart and that you care. Forgive me for doubting what you can do. Instead, Lord, change my heart so that I have an unwavering belief in Who you are. As I spend time in your presence and your word, impart knowledge that reassures me of who you are. As we pray and spend time with you, may our faith grow and our unbelief dwindle.”
6. Be Strong and of Good Courage
“Dear God, it is often our natural inclination to be fearful and to cover that fear with logic and intellect. But you have told us to be strong and of good courage. May our faith in you ignite our courage. May we know that you are ever-present and that you have given us what we need to navigate this life. As your fruit is developed in us may it yield boldness to do what you have called us to do; may you produce in us peace and righteousness. Then may we have the courage to go against the grain because we know that you are with us.”
7. A Humble Heart
“Lord, with humble hearts we approach you. We deserve nothing yet you shower us with unmerited grace and favor. As we draw near to you, we know that you will draw near to us and show up in many ways. As we go through the day, may we be peacemakers, wise influencers, and doers of good. May you shine through in all our actions. Keep me humble as I do what you have purposed for me to do. Amen.”
There is no formula to praying, to knowing God, to being intimate with Him. What you will need to do is simply make an effort to spend time with him, the same way you would in any relationship that you value. If prayer worked according to a fixed formula – used to win our hearts’ desires – Job would have avoided much suffering, Paul’s thorn in the flesh would have been removed, and Jesus would not have been crucified (excerpt from Philip Yancey – Prayer Does it Make a Difference).
God hears us; his heart is touched by ours, for He is a God of relationship. As we pray, cling to God’s faithfulness. He hears, and He cares.
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