Last night I started writing my post for today, but I was going to discuss prayer and fasting (I will, at a later time). After researching these two topics, I began to think about my own prayer life and wonder if it could be better (yes, it can). Don't get me wrong, I pray. I pray a lot throughout the day, but they are short prayers ("texting God" as my friend Melyssa calls it. Mine are more like tweets on Twitter - 140 characters or less). How can I develop a strong relationship with the Lord if I'm only tweeting Him?
As I reveiwed the Scriptures last night regarding prayer, I noticed how seriously the Biblical heroes took prayer. Moses, Daniel, Jesus, and many more, would go to a quiet place or rise before the sun to pray. Some prayed for 40 days and nights, some fasted during their prayers, some wore sackcloth and ashes as a sign of true mourning and repentance. Pleading for mercy, praying for their nations, for protection, for a child - these prayers were offered from the heart. They prayed without ceasing (1 Thessolonians 5:17).
How can I improve my prayer life? I can't necessarily go away for 40 days and nights, but I might be able to find 40 minutes (keep in mind there are no time limits on prayer, I'm using this as an example). I can go to bed earlier so I can get up earlier and use the quiet time of the early morning for prayer.
I can also watch what I pray. James 4:2b - 3 says "You do not have, because you do not ask. 3You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions." (ESV)
What are the motives for my prayers? Am I praying for God's will to be done or am I praying for material possessions that will bring no glory to God?
How am I praying? Am I like the hypocrite and the pharisee - praying where others see me (Matthew 6:5) and bragging to God how great and pious I am (Luke 18:11)? Or like the tax collector who hung his head, beat his chest and begged for mercy (Luke 18:1) realizing my great sin and His great grace?
The benefits of prayer are endless. I will draw closer to the Lord as I relay my most intimate thoughts to Him. My relationship with Him will grow stronger meaning my faith will grow as well. It's also a chance to check my thoughts and motivations and pray for forgiveness. I can't do this though in short prayers, just like I can't build a relationship with someone with short phrases.
How's your prayer life? What are your thoughts on prayer? I would love to read your comments.