I believe prayer is an important part of our spiritual life. During this season of preparation, which we call Advent, prayer can become a central part of our celebrations. Prayer can be as complex as we want or as simple as we need, but sometimes we need a little help getting started. In Simply Prayer you’ll discover the basics of: what prayer is, why we pray, how to pray, and how to know your prayers are answered.
The following are two excerpts from the chapter on why we pray. To receive your free copy of the Simply Prayer eBook, follow the instructions at the end of this post.
Why do we pray?
In scripture we are told that God already knows our needs1, so, then, why pray? That’s a very good question. If prayer is only about giving God a “grocery list” of wants, there is no reason to pray. But, if prayer is much more than that, then prayer becomes a very important part of our life. Imagine for a moment that you love the person you’re living with. (I know you may, at times, have to imagine very hard, but stay with me.)
Imagine that person means the world to you. How would you talk to that person? Would you only tell that person what you wanted or complain about not having a perfect situation? I hope not. If you really love someone you tell that person – often.2
Now, turn the tables and imagine the one you love does nothing but complain about what they don’t have and only speaks to you when they want to give you a list of “to-do’s.” This person doesn’t say thank you and treats you, more or less, as his or her own personal genie in a bottle. How would you feel? I imagine you would be very hurt. Perhaps you would even leave that person to search for someone who would appreciate your love.
In a good relationship, your love is expressed back to you. In a bad one it often feels like all give and no take. Prayer is part of having a relationship with God. No matter how much you complain or beg for things, no matter if you remember to say “thank you” or not, God will never leave you. However, God does want a better relationship than the “genie in a bottle” one we tend toward.
Ask, Seek, Knock
That is not to say we can’t ask for what we want. In fact, Jesus tells his listeners to “ask, seek, knock.”3 God wants to hear from us. He wants us to ask for what we want, what we need. He wants us to engage him in conversation about how we would like our life to go because in the asking we seek to know God better. Of course, we need to be aware of how we ask so we don’t fall back into the “grocery list” way of praying.
When we ask for our needs and wants in a way that doesn’t make God into our personal genie, prayer becomes more about building a good relationship than getting exactly what we want all the time.
All Bible texts are from World English Bible
1 Matthew 6:31 “Therefore don’t be anxious, saying, ‘What will we eat?’, ‘What will we drink?’ or, ‘With what will we be clothed?’ 6:32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
2 If you’re unsure how to express your love in a way your signifi cant other will understand, I highly recommend The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts by Gary Chapman. (see appendix of Simply Prayer)
3 There are two texts for this: Matthew 7:7 “Ask, and it will be given you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and it will be opened for you. 7:8 For everyone who asks receives. He who seeks fi nds. To him who knocks it will be opened. 7:9 Or who is there among you, who, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 7:10 Or if he asks for a fi sh, who will give him a serpent? 7:11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father
Want a free copy of the eBook?
Here’s how to get it:
Leave a brief comment on this post before Dec. 27 telling what prayer means to you and I’ll email you a free copy of Simply Prayer. Please specify your format preference (epub, kindle or .pdf). It’s that easy.
Prefer hard copy or audio book format?
I’ll be giving away one hard copy and one audio book this season. To enter the drawing, just tweet this link (http://virginiaripple.com/?p=640) with the hashtag #SimplyPrayer for the hard copy or #SimplyPrayerAudio. You can also link to this post on your blog. (If you link back, please be sure to let me know either in a comment or with a tweet to @virginiaripple, which drawing you would like to be entered into.)
Your name will be added as many times as you tweet/link back.