Prayer: A Personal Reflection4
(Eds. Note: Every once in a while, we ask a friend of Redeemer Church to write a blog post for a series we've cleverly titled "Friends of Redeemer." Today, Sarah Grace Pavelchak writes a personal reflection on what prayer means to her. Check out her last post regarding the unique challenges of being a Christian and preaching the Gospel in the military.)
I was graciously asked to write as a guest on this sweet and encouraging church's blog. I'll be explaining what I've been taught on the subject of prayer and how it relates to and can enrich our day-to-day lifestyle as Christians.
Prayer is relational; it is, first and foremost, a gift. It's a lifeline to God. It brings us hope, wisdom, comfort, forgiveness, and is a way to worship our Heavenly Father. Having communion with God, through prayer, was given to us as an integral part of being a Christian. After Christ died on the cross and bridged the divide between God and us, we were given the gift of communion with God. By communion, I mean a mutual growing relationship, one where there is a constant desire to know and hear God. Prayer and communion, in that sense, are one and the same. We all have relationships in our lives where we want to talk to that person, we want to share our highs and lows with them, and we rightfully crave their approval and love. The only thing about our earthly relationships, as wonderful as they can be, is that we're all sinners. Therefore, no earthly relationship can give us what we need. The only perfect and fulfilling relationship we can have is one with God. He has chosen us (US! Like you and I!) to be his children.
When I was younger I didn't quite understand the relational side of prayer. I thought of prayer only in the context of duty and routine. Routine, rightfully understood, is great, and we do need to be consistent. However, there is also a much deeper side to prayer that has nothing to do with obligation. Jesus endured dying on the cross, tore the curtain, and invited us into the throne-room of grace. The relational aspect of prayer is not a platitude; it acknowledges the glorious truth of reconciliation. On the basis of Jesus’s death and the reconciliation and relationship He achieved, God desires, even requires, our full attention and devotion. Similar to the desire we have for devotion from those we love.
Saying a prayer, then, does not have to be or sound perfect, Jesus already knows and covered our imperfections and is interceding on our behalf. We just need to remember that prayer is essentially a humble response and communication with God. It shows God we honor and need Him as well as giving us a reminder that it's not about us. If we truly believe that God's will matters most in our lives and we want to give Him the "glory due His name", then why wouldn't we want to express our all to Him, the major and the minor issues in our lives? I know I sometimes tend to think my problems and requests are too small for God. Yet, God always very graciously reminds me that he cares about every detail of my life.
"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven"
When I struggle to believe that He can and will take care of the minute details of my life, I'm actually doubting the credibility of God. Nothing we pray or ask for (if those prayers are Gospel-centered) is too much for God to handle. He wants to hear all we desire to bless us and to use us to set an example of being a child of God.
"What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"
C.S. Lewis has this to say on our requests to God: "If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the
unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased."
We won't find infinite Joy anywhere except in Christ. How many times a day do you check your phone or social media sites compared to how often you pray? Prayer doesn't have to be this formal speech; God wants to hear what's in our hearts and that we need Him above all, not because He otherwise wouldn’t know (He’s God, after all) but for our own good. David is a prime example of how we are to pray and express our worship and requests to God. And David was named "a man after God's own heart.” The example of David and Paul helped me, and they are two men in the Bible who are great subjects to begin to study if you are in search of how to pray.
Finally, my desire for myself and encouragement to you is to live lives characterized by prayer. I often have to repeat this mantra over and over to myself, although I'm not sure where the quote came from. It is this: "have you prayed about it as much as you've thought or talked about it today?"
"He is, of course, available any time. And he loves to help any time. But he is dishonored when we do not make time in our day to give him focused attention. All relationships suffer without regular focused attention. Paul is calling all of us to a life or regular, planned meetings with God in prayer in which we praise him for who he is, and thank for what he has done, and ask him for help, and plead the cause of those we love, including the peoples of the world." -John Piper.
More in Redeemer Blog
October 30, 2019When are the Glory Days: Lessons Learned from Heartland Part Two
October 29, 2019When are the Glory Days? Lessons Learned from Heartland, Part One
October 8, 2019The Facets of Forgiveness