Prayer is such an essential part of the believer’s daily lifestyle. But to be honest, even eighteen years into my walk with Christ, some aspects of prayer still puzzle me. Don’t get me wrong, I know prayer is powerful and important, but why out of all things God could ask of us, does He specifically call us to pray?
1 Thessalonians 5:17, “Pray without ceasing.”
In Matthew 5:8 it says, “When you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”
One of the questions I struggled with a few years ago was, “If God already knows what I need, then what is the point of prayer?”
This week my pastor, Mark Ramsey, said something in a sermon that stuck with me: “We don’t pray to change God’s mind. We pray to let God change our hearts.”
The Importance of Attitude
As I was processing this statement, I thought of an illustration from my childhood.
When I was 9, the only thing I wanted in the whole world was a pink platypus Webkinz. (It seems silly now, but for some reason, this toy was REALLY important to me.) Now, my parents KNEW that I wanted this thing. Even if the constant telling them wasn’t enough, they saw me stare at it every time in the store, talk about it with my friends, and look up pictures of it.
I didn’t have to beg them over and over again (which, of course, I still did), for them to know my heart’s desire.
My parents knew what I wanted AND had the means to provide this toy for me.
However, there was a problem- my attitude. I would whine and complain every time I did not get this toy. Often, I would get angry at my parents, because I thought they were holding out on me. I didn’t trust my parents to know what was best for me. In my nine-year-old infinite understanding, I could clearly see that I knew better.
One day I finally threw an all-out fit. When I looked up after my torrent of emotion, my dad simply said, “Makiah, the problem isn’t that we want to keep something from you, but your attitude won’t allow us to give it to you.”
See my parents understood that as much as they wanted me to happy, they cared more about where my heart was. They needed to see me be patient and calm before they could entrust me with what I wanted. They wanted me to be thankful instead of entitled.
A couple of months later at Christmas, after my attitude had improved, they gave me the Webkinz. I found out that they had the stuffed animal in their closet the whole time! While I could write a whole other blog on the importance of attitude, the thing that stuck with me is- my parents already KNEW what I needed, they already HAD the thing I wanted, and they WANTED to bless me. What they needed from me was to get into a place of submission and trust, so that they could bless me.
Sometimes I catch myself praying from a place of fear, entitlement, or anger at God.
Lord, you promised me good things, but THIS isn’t good! You gave her a promotion, why not me? Have you forgotten about me? Because I don’t see this blessing in my life.
God, the patient Father He is, doesn’t mind these prayers. He still lovingly and gently reminds me that He is in control. He points back to His faithfulness and convicts me of places in my heart where I need to trust him.
When I start to use prayer as a way to shift my attitude and expectations, I position myself in a way for God to bless me. Not only does it make blessings possible in my life, but He invites me into His plan to be a part of the miracles He is working in my life! I have learned to stop praying as a way to demand things and instead ask God to align my heart with His heart.
When I believe that God already KNOWS what I need and HAS my answer in the palm of His hand, I learn to trust His timing. I trust that His plan is higher even if the answer is no.
Yes, God knows everything you need. Yet still, He longs for us to ask Him and allow Him to do a work in our heart. Prayer changes our heart and teaches us to trust God’s heart for us.