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.
[Tweet “Prayer is a privilege. It’s a posture of leaning in & hearing from God.”]
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.
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash
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What a difference changing that one little word (have to get) can make in our lives. I couldn’t agree more, Mary. The lessons you’re learning about prayer are so important for all of us. I’m really focusing on the one about praying even when I don’t know what to pray. My mind gets so overwhelmed at times that I literally can’t think straight. Just getting quiet, trying to still my mind, and letting the Holy Spirit drive my prayers has been a beautiful gift lately. Thanks for your always inspiring words, my friend.
It is a perspective changer. I understand what you are saying about an overwhelmed mind. The distractions I have in my head take me off track too often. I pray you find your quiet time with God to be truly quiet – a time of leaning in and hearing from the One who loves you dearly. Thank you for being here and encouraging me.
I am navigating a way of doing differently that is not about checking off tasks lists. I’m not sure what that looks like yet, however I do love your words how prayer time is stillness with Him. And listening! I’ve noticed if I have the list, it doesn’t allow me to be still to listen. And thank you for the encouragement to still pray we are not sure how, reminding me that we have intercessor that does, and will for us.
One of the things I am trying to do is just sit quietly with God. It is a discipline and one that I need to work on. I am interested in knowing what you learn as begin to do things differently with prayer. I hope you will share. May we all believe prayer is a privilege and a gift.
Thank you for these thoughts! I needed to be reminded of this today: “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” What a sweet gift from Him, to know that He accepts and even prays through our groaning when it is offered to Him. Blessings to you!
Romans 8:26 is such a beautifully stated verse. The image of the Spirit interceding for us knocks me on my knees. It is a sweet gift. I pray we find the time to be with God even if we don’t know what to say. He knows! Blessings, Bettie!
Good points, Mary! One thing I’ve learned about prayer and my relationship with God this last year is that it is unique. It’s not necessarily going to look like anyone else’s experience. And that’s okay! I love what you said at the beginning of the post about replacing “I have to” with “I get to” – so much of what we do is a privilege. Prayer definitely tops that list. Blessings on your Sabbath, my friend!
What a great reminder to know that prayer is unique to each person. It’s because we are each a beautiful creation of God. Prayer is not only a privilege but a gift that God gives to us as a way to deepen our relationship with Him. I always love when you stop by.
I do the same thing!!! Try to rush through my prayer time. I read your note before church in during the sermon something hit and made me realize I needed to be cognizant of this privilege of intercessory prayer. And, I need to reorganize all my different prayer lists. I have a hard time taking anyone off it! After what I prayed for is resolved, I figure they still need prayer. So thankful for the blessing of your devotions.
I am grateful you joined in the conversation, Karen! Prayer is such a gift but it is easy to rush through or check it off our list. You have always been such a prayer warrior. I love our resolve to persevere. I hope you and your husband are doing well.
I love this: “Prayer is not only a spiritual discipline but also a spiritual privilege.” I know I have so many privileges and “get to’s” that I turn into burdens. Thanks for this challenge to continually adjust my attitude!
I am thankful that God continues to challenge me. I write because God needs to teach me more and I process it by writing. I’m so glad you found these words to be helpful too. Blessings on your week!
Hi Mary! Oh my gosh, how I startled a little when I read your quote from Paul. I LOVE that quote, and have been trying to read it every day. To be thankful in all things…that’s quite a challenge!
Your thought about changing from have to into get to makes it a little easier. To see every day as a joy, each moment a gift would be the key for me. I have a bit of a way to go, but I’m trying to remember that through the Paul quote. Joy is a gift I know I have, I must find it and use it!
Yes, it is! Gratitude is not always my first thought but I am also working on it. Isn’t it a wonderful perspective changer to change our language? That has been an eye-opener for me. I pray we find the joy in each day and it becomes a beautiful habit.
Prayer definitely is a privilege. Sometimes I am to quick to respond with the “I am praying for you” and quickly move on and forget that I am supposed to be praying. Thank you for sharing these thoughts on prayer.
You’re welcome! I am guilty of telling people I will pray for them and then move on with my day. I am working on stopping and praying in the moment. It is a learning process and I am thankful for a patient God.
Perspective does change things. I love thinking of it as a “get to” rather than a have too!”
I also love knowing it’s a “get to” and not a “have to”. Love when you stop by!
Yes and Amen — and this is an area where I struggle, as well. Thanks for taking time to sift it out in this thoughtful and beautiful post.
I am quick to say I will pray for others or I list the prayer requests of others and keep them close during my quiet time but find that is all I do. I need to develop a perseverance and follow through in prayer. I was sitting in my favorite coffee shop this week ready to write and prayed for God to point me to what my focus would be for Sunday. He said “prayer”. I know I could dig into this for a long time. Happy Sunday to you and yours.