Saturday, March 9, 2013
To become a better prayer, you have to do more than pray.
While browsing Pinterest I saw a pin that said "To become a better runner, you have to do more than run".
I thought about that. To be a good runner, you obviously do have to run. A lot. But if you want to become a great runner, you have to do more training than that. You have to stretch and keep flexible and protected against injury. You have to do different types of exercises and drills to keep your muscles in shape, your aerobic and anaerobic systems firing, and your overall fitness level high. You even have to eat and drink the right things.
I wondered - is it the same in our spiritual lives?
I think a lot of people want to be better pray-ers. How often have you sat down alone to pray and given up after a few minutes of feeling like you are talking to the air? Or have you avoided praying out loud in a group because you feel inept? Or prayed out loud but worried over every stilted word?
How often have you really seen results from your prayers?
There might be some (or many) of us who will never be great runners, but we are all built with the capacity to be great prayers. It's what we were made for.
Adam and Eve were the first great prayers - but their prayer just looked like walking and talking with God. We were made for that - to walk and talk with God as father and friend. It's meant to be the most natural thing in the world.
Sin separated us. But Jesus was sent to bring God's kingdom to us here, and we have access to that now through the Holy Spirit. We are meant to be great prayers.
So what's stopping us? Why does it sometimes seem like we barely know how to walk, let alone run, when it comes to prayer?
I think we should approach it more like a runner. An athlete competing in the Olympics doesn't just front up to the starting line after just sitting on the couch for a few months before hand. Not if they want to win. And how much more do we have to gain than a temporary prize?
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 1 Corinthians 9:24-25
And we are fighting an uphill battle. That direct connection to God through prayer is going to be the last thing the devil wants you to have - he's going to make it difficult for you. Making prayer life unsatisfying and seemingly pointless in one of the best weapons in his arsenal.
Prayer does more than just let God know about our needs and problems - he already knows all that. Prayer helps us know God. We get close to his thoughts, and get to know his plans.
So how to we 'train' to pray?
It's not just about becoming more eloquent or verbose. That's like a person putting on fancy shoes and a fashionable outfit and expecting it to win them the race.
We do all the things that God has given us to exercise our spiritual muscles. We read the Word. We fellowship with others. We pour out love.
We continue to pray, even when it hurts. Even if it's just a few words of, "God, I don't even know what to say."
The closer we get to God, the more we hear Him, the better prayer will get. It will never be what it was designed to be until we see Jesus again, but it doesn't have to be the stale, painful exercise that many feel it is right now.
Prayer is powerful. Prayer goes deep. Prayer brings us right to the feet of God.
Exercise your muscles and have faith that God wants you to hear him.