We have come to the end of our prayer series. We’ve talked about prayer motives, prayer prioritization, and persevering in prayer. Now we are going to conclude with three prayers we sometimes forget to pray–I know I have, at least.
There are many different kinds of prayers and very many things we can pray about. Just look at how big Psalms is–each of those 150 chapters is a unique prayer! Prayers can express worship or confession or thanksgiving. In addition, you can pray for anything from salvation to shoes! You can pray absolutely any day of the year, any time of day, and any place on earth! And your prayer can be as long or short as you want, and God will still listen (if you are a Christian).
Here are three ways that are easy to not quite pray enough:
#1: Praying According to God’s Will
All too often, we get caught up in praying what we want and it never even crosses our minds to pray what God wants. Praying what God wants might seem like an odd idea. After all, we are listening to what God wants when we read the Bible, but when we fold our hands that’s our chance to tell God what we want.
But when Jesus was teaching his disciples how to pray, he didn’t tuck in this part just because it sounds nice:
Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. – Matthew 6:10 (ESV)
It does have a nice rhythm (in English at least, I don’t know about the Greek), but I believe there is more significance to it than that. It is a prayer that wants what God wants and trusts that His way is good.
And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him. – 1 John 5:14-15 (ESV)
If I were to pray for God to do ill to someone or to help me sin more, He wouldn’t grant that. On the other hand, prayers for souls to be saved, fruit to be produced, hearts to be encouraged, those are the prayers God finds pleasure in granting. Those are prayers we need to pray more.
One great way to pray God’s will is to base your prayers on your Bible reading. Did you just read that God wants you to love your neighbor? Pray that you would. Read a passage that asks for people to repent and be saved? Pray that.
#2: Praying Our Hearts Out
We also often neglect to pray out of our hearts. Our prayers aren’t as genuine as David’s. We don’t pray as passionately as Jesus.
One reason for this might be we just don’t take the time to pause our non-stop life and have a deep conversation with our God. We don’t slow down and pray when we need to. (I talked about this a bit more in “Prioritizing Prayer.”)
Other times, we don’t pray out of our hearts because we’re afraid. We claim that we have faith that God will answer, but we neglect to pray boldly, and we take matters into our own hands instead. There’s an article called “Why I’m Afraid to Pray Big Prayers” on the Rebelution. I recommend you check it out.
Either way, I would encourage you with these verses:
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. – 1 Peter 5:6-7 (ESV, emphasis added)
Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Selah. – Psalm 62:8 (ESV, emphasis added)
And this verse is so good to remember when it is hard to find words:
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. – Romans 8:26-27 (ESV)
#3: Praying Before Making Tough Decisions
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. – James 1:5 (ESV)
Another thing we often forget to pray is for wisdom before decision making. Most Christians probably pray before they get married and make similar life-altering decisions. But what about the other tough judgment calls we face?
It doesn’t have to be a huge decision in order to be a tough one. In fact, we face tough decisions every day! Will I snap and say something I’ll regret, or will I be patient with him? Will I be loving to her, or will I ignore her?
When we face hard choices, we need to stop and pray. In these kinds of cases, it makes it so much easier not to make a foolish decision when you’ve just prayed for wisdom. God really does answer.
But at least for me, it can be quite a struggle to pray because I fail to connect my day-to-day life with my “spiritual life.” Often I make foolish choices because I’m kneeling to the desires of the flesh and not thinking about God at all. If you think about it though, it is silly to even say we have a day-to-day life and a “spiritual life” because the gospel changes your actual, physical life. “Spiritual stuff” like prayer isn’t limited to any particular time of day. This “spiritual stuff” is your life now, yo.
“Lord, please help me to address my sibling who spilled my pens everywhere with patience and kindness. Amen.”
Dear Christian, you have your own wants, but make sure you pray God’s wants. But still, take the time to pray your heart out–God cares for you. And pray before tough decisions because you need wisdom from God. These are prayers we can neglect to pray, but they are so worth praying.
This series has now come to an end, but our prayer lives, Lord-willing, won’t end until we go to heaven and can talk with God face to face. I hope this series encouraged you in your walk, and you’ll take away a nugget or two. If you’ve been prayer journaling, let me know how this month has gone for you in the comments. Have a lovely spring, everyone! =)
What do you think?
Which type of prayer do you neglect the most? What did you think of the series? Should I do another topic for a month in the future, and if so, do you have any suggestions?