Sometimes I wonder about prayer. How to pray most effectively. Do my prayers make a difference? Similarly, I wonder how to deepen relationship with God. In our physical, visible, daily reality – going after invisible qualities can be hard to define. Do you ever wonder about how to deepen your relationship with God? Or do you wonder about prayer?
Scripture teaches to have child-like faith when it comes to prayer and connecting with Jesus. Mt. 28:3 says, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
These two words, change and become, seem critical to prayer and relationship with God.
Change – suggests no stagnation. A godly life will flow, which requires flexibility. It also says the quiet part out loud: it’s your decision. Unless you engage the process of change, you won’t become.
Become – is an artful word. It has the flavor of growth, the capacity to do better, a hint you never quite get there. It’s a lifetime commitment. It also suggests you choose to (or not to) participate. And it suggests there is an ideal to become like.
Whenever I find myself wondering about prayer and deeper relationship with God, I do several deliberate things. Of course, I’m definitely always learning and growing in faith. But I do them!
1. Turn To God
First, I turn by faith to God who gave me His Word and promises. He loves me (and you) deeply, sealing His love through the death and resurrection of Jesus. As I consider this wonderful reality in daily issues, something shifts inside my soul. My heart enters a kind of rest, assurance, and wonder as I step away from myself to focus on God.
Turning to God challenges me to think bigger than my own considerations. This makes it easier to slip into surrender.
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” (Gal. 2:20)
2. Abandon Everything That Gets In The Way
- Needing everything to make sense.
- Current feelings.
- Inner pain from unjust treatment.
- Sorrow from losses.
- Broken dreams.
- Desire for instant results.
- Expectation things will be different.
- Discouragement/anger over global problems.
3. Be Honest With God
For this step to be meaningful and life-changing – I must pour my soul into relationship with God by faith. Since my response back to God always comes up short to the measure God pours into relationship with me, I simply give my best. Let God be God. Simultaneously, let me be me.
- Because I’m a sinner saved by God’s grace, I need God’s mercy.
- God created me with purpose. It’s up to me to accept His purpose.
- I belong to God. I must agree with God.
- Since I often can’t see what’s next, embrace my design to live by faith.
- Life’s hurts and losses are sometimes overwhelming. I must receive His healing and peace.
- Life often feels lonely. My companion is Christ.
This authentic step into intimacy with God means baring my heart to Him. He already knows everything about me. (Ps. 139:2) As I draw near Him, I interact with His immenseness – from my humanness.
I love a short verse that captures how Jesus viewed His Heavenly Father. In fact, this verse challenges and changes me continually. “Jesus looked up and said, ‘Father, I thank You that You have heard Me.’ “ (Jn. 11:41)
This statement changes me because of several reasons:
- It puts me face to face with the incredible faith Jesus had in Father. Just knowing Father heard Him took care of everything. Jesus is my model.
- Jesus looked UP. Worship. Reverence. Placing Himself under God. I must worship.
- With what spirit did Jesus say this short sentence? With gratitude! I must be thankful.
- Knowing Jesus didn’t do what He wanted – that He didn’t do what others thought He should – and He did only what the Father told Him to – this gives me action steps.
Remembering God is worthy of my worship and hears me – changes both prayer and relationship.
5. Be Willing To Stand Alone
When His disciples didn’t understand His words about prayer and relationship with God, Jesus said to them, “. . . I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me.” (Jn. 8:28b)
Jesus always stood with God. That meant He most certainly often stood alone while on earth.
Considering He did only what God taught Him, Jesus took a position of a learner. Notice the word “taught.” Stunningly – the Creator of all things who knows everything, the Great I AM – learned from His Father. Consequently, this set Him apart from others. In a sea of humanity, Jesus was alone.
What To Carve Away As You Wonder About Prayer
Some things should not be allowed in the life of a Jesus follower. Questions and “wonderings” are understandable. But deep respect and faith in God’s goodness must accompany questions and wonderings. This keeps a person sweet like Jesus, and it represents Him well.
Because they can quickly turn into other problem things, the following has no place in a believer’s life:
- Doubting God.
- Questioning Scripture’s credibility.
- Belittling your original design or contribution in the world.
- Making God sad by doubt or lack of gratitude.
- Being a stumbling block to someone else.
- Having a negative attitude.
- Looking down on individuals and groups Jesus died to save.
These are serious issues to God. Consequently, they are dangerous for humans, even for a few minutes. So, I work to limit my time in these issues to “0” minutes! Since I know I can’t trust myself, I’ve simply decided – “0” minutes!
However, this doesn’t mean I don’t wonder or have questions. In fact, I’m pretty sure I have more questions in my older years than as a young adult. Yet, I also have more perspective now. Like –
- I’m more prone to hold things with an open hand even if I don’t understand.
- I’ve learned to accept things I “super don’t like.”
- Sometimes, I can sense the work of the enemy faster than I used to.
- And – I really don’t like the enemy’s rage against Jesus and humanity.
- Further, I continually work to implement faith despite feelings and circumstances.
- I can sense when my spirit is “off” from the grateful, hope-filled, solution-oriented spirit of Jesus.
Perspective Helps Wonder About Prayer
Well, it only takes a little consideration about God and about the enemy to figure some things out.
My enemy – the one who – –
- hates me completely,
- constantly tries to deceive me,
- takes advantage of me when I’m down,
- bugs and irritates without end,
- deliberately weaves hurt into my life,
- tempts me to be negative and not be thankful,
- and etc.!
Jesus Christ – the One who – –
- loves me perfectly,
- always tell me the truth,
- compassionately lifts me up when I’m down,
- enables and encourages my spirit,
- deliberately weaves love and intervention into my life,
- gives hope and reason to be grateful,
- and etc.!
Those bullet lists help me “keep my head in all situations.” (2 Tim. 4:5a) Or at least help me work at it. They also help me think Scripturally about prayer. Simple things –
- To pray for one another. (Ja. 5:16)
- Pray without ceasing. (1 Thess. 5:17)
- Pray about all things. (Phil. 4:6)
- Intercede for believers everywhere. (Jn. 17:20)
- Lift up leaders – my nation, the world. (1 Tim. 2:1-4)
- Respond back in relationship with God. (1 Jn. 5:20; Ps. 42:8; Heb. 5:7; Lk. 5:16)
- Remember relationship with God is eternal life. (Jn. 17:3)
After “visiting” my questions (spending “0” minutes with things that morph into doubt), I intentionally dive deeper into relationship with God by faith through prayer. I don’t understand many things. Yet, with all my heart – I desire to please God and bring joy to His great heart.
In this content of lists, I have a question list for you:
- Do you wonder about prayer?
- What can you do to connect with God at a deeper level?
- Are your thoughts purposefully filtered through Scripture?
- Do you care what God thinks and whether you please Him?
- How often do you turn to God in life details, problems, trials, needs?
- How often do you lift others in prayer?
- Do you pray over leaders around the world?
Prayer still makes a difference. And relationship with God is an incredible privilege.
Remember: “0” minutes!
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