I have to do the laundry.
I have to clean the house.
Or I have to take my kids to basketball.
How amazing would it be to change our “have to” into “get to”? What would it look like to change each statement above by starting with “I get to”? This is a major mind shift for me. It also causes me to focus on joy rather than the burden.
As I look at prayer today, I find that I place the “have to” on my prayer life at times. Instead, of focusing on the privilege of praying for others I discover my mind drifting to how fast can I check it off my “to do” list.
These words from 1 Thessalonians 5 beseech us to pray continually. What stands out is that one phrase is sandwiched between “rejoice always” and “give thanks.” Hmmm! What a difference it makes to look at praying in the context of rejoicing and gratitude.
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. vs. 16-18
This is what I know about prayer…
When I begin my day in the quiet with God, I am centered for the rest of my day.
God loves when I come to Him in gratitude, supplication, and praise.
Praying for others is an honor given to me as a believer.
God hears me and answers my prayers in His perfect way and timing.
But even after writing the list above, I also know there is so much more I need to learn about prayer. It’s not so much the act of praying but the posture needed when engaged in one on one time with God. How do I sit in the stillness when asking God to join me? Am I leaning in or is my posture stiff in that moment?
God is teaching me that prayer is a patient process of being still with Him. Sometimes there is silence and other times there is living out loud worship. No matter what this time looks like, God creates a time of drawing near and deepening relationships.
Here are lessons I still need to learn about prayer…
Prayer is not easy.
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12
Prayer requires intentionality so we know what we are doing during prayer time.
Listen and hear my voice;
pay attention and hear what I say. Isaiah 28:23
Spend time in prayer even when you don’t know what to pray.
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. Romans 8:26
Prayer is not only a spiritual discipline but also a spiritual privilege. When I am tempted to check it off my daily “to do” list, I need to pause and know the truth of what a gift it is to pray. May we know the gift of prayer and engage it in daily with gratitude and faithfulness.
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