Saturday, May 17, 2014

Bold Prayers and Gratitude

For most of my life, I think I’ve had a skewed understanding of prayer. I think a lot of people do. We learned when we were young that prayer is how we talk to God. But somewhere along the way, prayer becomes simply requests that we present to God. “Help me with this… provide that… show me what to do…”
I’ve felt pretty needy over the past month or so. There seemed to be so many different things that I have needed help with. And I hate asking for help. But we’ve been told to submit our requests to God and to come before him with the desires of our hearts. So I’m really trying to pray boldly. And big.
Prayer, and even more so “answered prayers”, is a very complex concept to me. I know that I don’t have a full understanding of the practice and purpose of prayer. Over the past few years, I think I have grown in my understanding of how I should approach prayer. But how God handles prayer is still a mystery to me (and always will be).
A few weeks ago I had a really rough week. One of those weeks where it seems that everything that could go wrong did go wrong. So many things were up in the air and I was constantly praying to God for help.
And you know what… things began to happen. Problems were solved. Questions were answered. And my worries faded.
Oftentimes when I pray specific prayers to God, I just throw them up there and then forget about them and continue to work on solving those issues on my own. And then when those specific prayers are “answered”, I forget to give a prayer of gratitude. This is something I’m trying to be more aware of, and better at.
You know how you often have to remind young children to say thank you? I tend to be that young child when it comes to praying to God. I ask and I ask and my “please” comes out in a whinny, begging tone and I forget to say thank you.
But I’m working on being more grateful and expressing my gratitude to God more consistently; giving him the thanks and praise when prayers are “answered” and things start looking up. Thankfully our God is a gracious God and he is patient and forgiving. He doesn’t scold me or punish me when I am slow to say “thank you”, but when I do finally say those simple words I can feel him say with a fatherly smile, “You’re welcome. Use that answered prayer well.”

Praying Big
Another way I'm trying to amplify my prayer life is by praying big prayers.  I've gotten pretty good at the casual, everyday, basic prayers but I've always been a bit afraid (and even a bit skeptical) to pray really big prayers.  But I've come to realize that if I don't even pray those prayers - if I don't even speak them or actively hope for them - then there is no way that they could be answered.  So why not pray big prayers?  Go ahead, pray big!

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