I’ve always kind of had a problem, and a bone (or 4) to pick, with prayer.
It’s usually comforting, yes. We do it when we don’t know what else to do, or if you were raised in certain churches, before you do virtually anything else. And I actually do pray all the time. They’re usually around 4 seconds long, but yes, I pray. Lots.
However, I’ve never felt completely okay with prayer, and I wasn’t sure why.
First of all, why do I need to do it if Jesus already knows my every thought and want before I speak it?
And what about the passages that talk about praying privately, and behind closed doors. Come on, we rarely do that. In fact, evangelicals like to make a big scene out of praying in public places… So how does it all match up?
Also, I feel like I’m talking to a brick wall sometimes. Not all the time…but sometimes. I don’t know what to do with the silence.
And then there’s the whole “unanswered prayer” thing. I’ve prayed for a lot of people who weren’t healed in the way we desired and prayed for. And I’ve prayed for a lot of things to go right…when they ended up going left.
Praying is hard sometimes.
I was lying in bed thinking about this love/hate relationship with prayer and decided to listen to a teaching by Graham Cooke. What I heard was a whole new take on prayer that I’d never really thought of before.
Did you know that Jesus prays for you?
You may have heard that verse before, but do you understand what that really means? Praying in its simplest (and awesomest) form is listening to what Jesus is praying for you, and lining your prayers up with His. He certainly knows what’s best. Trust me, you don’t want to be praying on the opposite spectrum from Jesus. Because when it comes down to it… Guess which one of you is going to get their prayer answered 😉 If you ever start to pray something and it feels like God isn’t listening to you… It’s probably because He’s not! (This is slightly tongue in cheek… But in all seriousness, God wants what’s best for you. Always. And Jesus is praying exactly that… So He’s definitely going to hear Jesus out first and foremost.) Your wildest imagination is nowhere near God’s dream for you. He’s listening to Jesus and then listening to you, and saying “hold on…I don’t want to answer that prayer. Jesus is praying for you right now and you should hear HIS prayer. It’s soooooo much better. I promise!” This doesn’t mean we stop praying, or we start praying less. This means we start praying WAY more. God’s just saying “I love you way too much to answer that prayer, Carlee. But keep trying! Ask again, and again, and again. You’ll get it eventually.”
There’s only one prayer God wants to answer for you, and that’s the one that Jesus is praying.
Prayer is not about praying towards God, it’s about praying with God.
And prayer is not about praying to find an answer, it’s about praying with the answer.
I get to pray with Jesus! That blows me away!! So now when I feel like God isn’t listening to my prayers, I know the answer is not to stop praying. The answer is to keep praying, and to ask Jesus what He’s praying. It’s all about becoming more like Him.
We are made in His image. There’s no double standard to that. We are made to become more like God. Every situation we encounter- good or bad- is to make us more like Him. That’s the whole purpose of our lives, of the Bible, of praying, of everything. To make us more Christlike.
We have to see ourselves as God sees us if we are to be everything He wants us to be. I try to remind myself often that I am IN God and I am OF God. And what is God? Love. And what is love? Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)
That means, since you are IN God and God is love, you also have all of these qualities in you. So when you’re having a hard time being patient and kind, remember what you’re made of- love. And remember what love is. (Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.) That’s YOU! That’s me! Love.
We need these reminders daily. I forget what I’m made of all the time. But God never gets tired of reminding me. He’ll remind you all day if you want Him to. Jesus literally wants to hang out with us all day. I was having this conversation recently with my amazing friend, Farryn. Jesus likes hanging out with us! And I was reminded of this thrilling revelation that Jesus LIKES me. Yes, He loves me… I know, and I know the song. But also, Jesus LIKES me. And Jesus likes you, too! Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, Jesus loves you and He also likes you. We have got to understand that! JESUS LIKES US! He likes spending time with us, we’re His best friends! I’ve never thought of it that way before. I’ve always heard “Jesus is your friend” but I’ve never realized that I can flip that around- I’m His friend! And He’s never going to tell me He doesn’t have time to hang out, or that He’s busy, or that He found a new best friend. We’re best friends with one another, and we’re in it for the long haul. We can actually pray all day together, and never stop. How amazing does that sound? A life-long prayer with Jesus. Since He loves praying for you, imagine how much He’ll love praying with you. This is really what our conversations are with Him, right? Prayer IS conversation, and conversation IS prayer. And once you get to know God, you never want the conversation to stop!
It is so much easier to pray what Jesus is praying when I realize I just have to copy my best friend! And I get much bigger responses when I pray out of identity and inheritance, instead of need. Because I know that I’m IN God, I know my circumstances are in God. I’m not worried about them, and neither is He. And since I understand this now, I can deal with the frustrating silence from God in regard to my prayers. And actually, it doesn’t frustrate me at all anymore. Graham Cooke also says that “God is often silent. This silence doesn’t mean disapproval; in fact, when God is quiet it is generally an indication that He is happy with us. He doesn’t need to constantly reassure His mature sons and daughters when they are doing well; He just lets us be until we look like we’re heading off track.”
Prayer is all about knowing who you are and Whose you are. Beyond your wildest imagination you are wanted, you are loved, and you are liked. When we understand that, everything else falls into its place, and praying becomes a lot more fun. I promise!
So, prayer: Are you doing it wrong?