The more daring the request, the more glory accrues to God when the answer comes. ~ A.W. Tozier

For the last 6-8 weeks, I’ve been thinking a lot about prayer.  I say that I’ve been “thinking” about prayer because that’s the best way I can describe what’s been going on, although it’s really been so much more than that.

In October, my church went through a series on prayer that involved writing prayers down, reviewing them, watching for answers, and sharing those answers with others.  The purpose of the exercise was to make prayer a priority, to become more disciplined in prayer and to “practice the presence of God” (great book, btw – you should definitely get your hands on a copy at some point).

In addition to sitting under some great teaching on prayer, my Life Group worked through Bill Hybels’ Too Busyprayer NOT to Pray (yeah, go ahead and get that one too).  It ended up being a very needed opportunity for me to be vulnerable and honest about how and why I pray.

And because that all wasn’t enough, I also delved into Ray Stedman’s book, Talking With My Father (yup, that one too), and started listening to every sermon about prayer by every pastor I follow on Twitter that I could find. (Wow! You people talk about prayer a lot! Thanks!)

So why have I been doing so much research on prayer?  Why has this been where my spiritual energies have been spent?  The answer is simple: Prayer is our most powerful tool, and I wasn’t wielding it.

I have this nasty habit of intellectualizing spiritual principles.  One of the reasons I like Beth Moore’s studies and the reason I love listening to people like John Piper and other high-minded thinkers is because I love the academics of Scripture study.  However, it’s easy for me to get caught up in said academics, and fail to make any personal application from what I’m hearing.

So, for my benefit, and hopefully yours, here are five things I’m working on committing to heart, and not just to mind:

  1. Prayer that starts out focused on God, rather than on my needs and wants, tends to make my needs and wants less urgent.
  2. The Lord’s Prayer was not meant to be chanted. It was meant to be an outline for our conversations with God.
  3. Yes, we can pray anywhere, anytime, but it is critical to spend dedicated, intentional time in prayer every single day, and some of that time should be spent sitting quietly, not saying anything.
  4. The most effective catalyst for prayer is answered prayer.
  5. The bigger our prayers, the more opportunity we have to see God do great things.  The smaller our prayers, the more opportunity we have to be disappointed.

I love the quote at the top of this post.  The purpose of everything we do, and of our very being (!), is to bring glory to God (Isaiah 43:7).  Basically what Tozier is saying is that our bold, daring prayers not only allow us to see God do truly amazing things, but they fulfill the purpose for which we were created.  Our requests, made with audacious faith, allow others to witness the glory of God, and often strengthen others’ faith just as our own faith is strengthened through seeing affirmative and powerful answers to prayer.

All this reading and listening and thinking about prayer really has changed the way I pray in the last few weeks, as much as it has changed my consistency in prayer.  The last two weeks in particular have been a time of incredible blessing in every way possible:

  • I’ve seen God open doors I didn’t even know existed.
  • I’ve seen God provide in ways I never imagined.
  • I’ve seen God build and strengthen some key relationships in my life.
  • I’ve seen God give me opportunities to bless others in ways I wouldn’t have come up with on my own.

our-father-in-heaven-matt-6So I write this post today not only to encourage you, but as a memorial to God’s faithfulness, His character and His blessing.  There will be darker days ahead when I will need to remember what He has taught me.  There will be days when I will need to speak words of truth into a friend’s heart.  There will be days when I’ll need to remember why I pray in the first place.

I am in awe that the God of creation, the omnipotent, omniscient God listens to me, and more than that, wants to listen to me.  That’s just crazy! Why would I ever shy away from that?

What has been the most powerful influence on your prayer life lately?