Our prayer life has a tendency to reflect a heart condition. When a consistent, meditative time of prayer is lacking in our lives, it can expose an untrusting or distracted soul. Perhaps it’s not necessarily a heart matter, but where we place our focus.
Business management experts tell people it’s far more important for a company to be proactive rather than reactive to stave off challenges and position their company for better results. The same could be said for the Christian life. Too often, our prayers tend to be reactionary. When problems, worries, or concerns arise, we shoot a quick prayer to God. That’s okay, but that doesn’t necessarily cultivate a meaningful prayer life. Should prayers be prompted by a crisis or a request? Does not God already know about the ongoing trials, concerns over loved ones, and our future?
When overcome by anxiety or worry — when distracted by a busy schedule – we miss out on receiving something far greater from God than answered prayers. We miss the peace, confidence, and assurance of simply being in His presence.
Mary Magdalene understood this when she brought perfume to the dinner. Mary understood this while Martha was busy in the kitchen. Maybe even Zacchaeus understood this when he climbed up a sycamore tree to see Jesus. In contemplative prayer, we accept the invitation when Jesus calls out, “I must stay at your house today!”
A meaningful prayer requires courage and trust. It means learning how to climb a tree, pour expensive perfume, setting aside our to-do list and be at the feet of Jesus and appreciating His presence. It takes courage to let go of our worries and distractions. It takes trust to follow God’s timetable. At Jesus’ feet, we are no longer the master, but the servant. We are not there to counsel, but be counseled. We are not there to take orders, nor give them.
A meaningful prayerful begins with being rather than doing. The thought is being in God’s presence rather submitting our requests. By doing so, we receive the blessing of a good memory of how God always provides.
I like to tell the story when I was in graduate school. Newly married, without kids, I have fond memories of taking classes, teaching, and enjoying the desert climate of Albuquerque. Years later, I found a journal I kept during our brief stay. Expecting to find joyful and fond remembrances, I was shocked to read entries of crying and pleading for God to provide direction and to uncover His will for my life. I was embarrassed at my lack of faith. God ended up providing direction. God ultimately blessed me far more than I could have delivered for myself.
God can be trusted and this assurance does have a great effect on our prayers.
Here are three suggestions to cultivate a more meaningful prayer life:
#1 The Christian life is not about us.
Ask God for help. Even the disciples asked Jesus on how to pray. And he provided us with the Lord’s Prayer. The Christian life is more about accepting rather than understanding. Our faith grows by being in Christ and trusting His power, strength, and purpose rather than our own.
#2 Pray for the lost sheep.
In a sinful world, there will always be problems. Relationships. Jobs. Health. The Lord encourages us to be mindful of heavenly treasures rather than earthly treasures. Perhaps we ought to focus more on heavenly concerns rather than earthly ones. What is more important than a person’s salvation? Quite often, it’s the problems in life that lead people to Christ rather than the comforts of life.
#3 Allow God’s Word to prompt our prayers.
Do feelings prompt most of our prayers? Is our primary motivation for prayer prompted by events or circumstances? Instead, use God’s Word as a means to lead and direct our prayer life. Slow, contemplative reading of the Bible can absorb our mind and soul around God’s love and will. Instead of reading prayers from others, we can allow our heart to reflect and rejoice. The presence of the Holy Spirit rests in His Word. Let’s invite Him into our life and into our homes.