(Day 5 in a 28-day series from First Bradenton)
In many cases, prayer is a subject that comes easy to new believers. Just like a child to his/her Father, we realize how small we are compared to the greatness of the God of the universe. Because of this, we are quick and willing to go the Lord in prayer, laying all of our burdens before Him. After all, He cares for us.
…casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7)
Something begins to happen to that childlike simplicity as we mature as a Christian. When we begin to grasp the nature of God and the fact that He is all knowing (John 16:30), that knowledge begins to affect the way we pray. Why should we pray if God already knows our need? Why should we share our heart with God if He already knows the contents of it (Matthew 6:8)? Greater still, why should we pray if God is ultimately going to work all things together according to the council of His own will?
In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will… (Ephesians 1:11).
It is at this point that we need to have our mindset reshaped as far as how we think about prayer. Prayer is less about how we get things from God and more about our relationship with God. Bluntly framed, God is not in need of our prayers. He is not frantically waiting to act until we ask Him to intervene in our lives. He is not “shook” nor can He be shaken. God is the sovereign creator and King of the universe. He is, of His own self, independent and self reliant. More specifically though, He is our God. He entered into covenant relationship with us through faith in the work of His son. This makes us His children. Childlike praying offers us an opportunity to know Him better, trust Him more, and understand deeper the vastness of His love for us.
It has been said that communication is the key to any relationship and it is never more true than with our relationship to our Heavenly Father. God uses this communication not so much to change a specific circumstance in our lives but more to change us as faith followers. Simply put, prayer is a means of grace that God uses to shape us into the image of Christ.
For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. (Romans 8:29)
This causes me to think the way Paul thought…that in every situation, my immediate circumstances are less important compared to the “surpassing value” of gaining Christ.
Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ… (Philippians 3:8).
By Doug Hull