Prayer: Being Humble
Prayer. The Master of the universe invites us to come into His presence, to bring our worries and concerns, to bring our longings, to bring our brokenness, to bring our questions, our frustrations, our hopes and dreams.
He welcomes us to approach the foot of the throne, the throne where He sits on high, the Sovereign of all creation, the King of kings, the Lord of lords. He welcomes us to come boldly as His children, knowing He listens and cares and loves and acts.
Many have twisted prayer into a kind of cosmic, mystical, God-on-demand, ask-what-you-want, He’s-obliged-to-deliver, call-in-process. Some say (and even go so far as to teach) that God can be manipulated through prayer—what we say, how we say it, and how often we say it. Follow that theology and He’s no ‘God’ at all. With this thinking, their god is only one of their own construction without any power and really only part of their imagination.
No. That’s not prayer. And that’s not God. Prayer is a conversation, an ongoing conversation. It’s between the Creator and His created ones, His people, the sheep of His pasture, His beloved. Prayer is our fellowship with Him. It’s where we tell Him all He already knows. Prayer is about bowing our knees and laying it down and out.
What is Prayer?
Through prayer God offers us a place to lay our burdens, those things that weigh us down, those things that distract us, those things that overwhelm us, those things that confuse us. It’s a place where we can lay it all out—our plans and strategies, our hopes and dreams, our fears and challenges. At the foot of the throne we can lay it all down, lay it all out. Humbly kneel at His feet and ask Him for His wisdom, His discernment, His strength, His will.
Prayer is not magical or mystical. It’s not a formula or a fancy. Prayer is not a waste of time or a mere ritual. It is humble communication with God. It means we realize His authority, His position, His power, His glory. It is an acknowledgment of our need for Him, our realization that we can’t and it’s okay. It’s the place where we trade in our wants for His will, our pursuits for His praise, our goals for His glory.
We don’t come merely to ask His blessing for what we want to do, but for His direction regarding all that He wants us to do. We come seeking Him.
The one true God, the God of the Bible, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of David, the God of the prophets, He is able. He is big enough to allow us to wrestle through it. He knows our understanding is limited, He knows we cannot fully comprehend. He realizes our perspectives are obstructed. He can handle our questions, our doubting, out pain.
It’s how we come to Him that matters. Coming to Him in humility is key. He knows our hearts. He knows if we are coming with a broken and contrite heart. We cannot fool Him. Prayer is an avenue He offers us to come and know Him.
Here are six ways to engage in prayer:
1. The ACTS method.
Using an acrostic to order your prayers is a tried and true way to pray. One of my favorites employs the word ACTS, where each letter stands for a different aspect of prayer:
C-Confession=admitting my sin
T-Thankfulness=expressing gratitude to Him
S-Supplication=laying it all out before Him
This method of prayer helps to keep first things first and helps set the proper context for prayer. It is a simple and memorable way to organize your prayer time. It is a great way to help children develop their prayer time because even though it is simple, it is powerful. Beginning our time of prayer praising and confessing, then moving to thankfulness and requests helps our hearts to stay focused on the right object in prayer: God.
2. Be still and know.
David wrote about this discipline in Psalm 46:10. This is not an easy habit to practice in our busy, rushing culture, but it is a necessary one. Being still and knowing means we stop and sit in silence before Him. It means that we unplug and unwind and unload.
3. Prayers in the Bible.
Depending on your definition, there are over 600 prayers in the Bible. Some of them are only a single verse. Others are an entire chapter. Throughout Scripture, the prayers of God’s people have been recorded for our encouragement. Noah, Abraham, David, Hannah, Elijah, Anna, Mary, and Paul prayed. When the disciples asked, Jesus Himself taught them saying: “Pray then in this way:
‘Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’
4. Written prayers.
There are several denominational traditions regarding prayer. Some do not practice reading prayers, but others recognize the depth and power in written and recited prayers. There are several books filled with such prayers for our encouragement. One of my favorites is Valley of Vision. It is a collection of Puritan prayers, which were written in worship of the King and are meant to bring the worshiper into close, focused communion with God. Here is an example:
Longings after God
“My dear Lord, I can but tell You that You know I long for nothing but Yourself, nothing but holiness, nothing but union with Your will.
You have given me these desires, and You alone canst give me the thing desired. My soul longs for communion with You, for mortification of indwelling corruption, especially spiritual pride.
How precious it is to have a tender sense and clear apprehension of the mystery of godliness, of true holiness! What a blessedness to be like You as much as it is possible for a creature to be like its creator! Lord, give me more of Your likeness; enlarge my soul to contain fullness of holiness; engage me to live more for You.
Help me to be less pleased with my spiritual experiences, and when I feel at ease after sweet communings, teach me it is far too little I know and do.
Blessed Lord, let me climb up near to You, and love, and long, and plead, and wrestle with You, and pant for deliverance from the body of sin, for my heart is wandering and lifeless, and my soul mourns to think it should ever lose sight of its beloved.
Wrap my life in divine love, and keep me ever desiring You, always humble and resigned to Your will, more fixed on Yourself, that I may be more fitted for doing and-suffering.”
Other prayer books for your edification include: The Prayer that Changes Everything, Prayers that Avail Much, and The Book of Common Prayer. As you read these prayers allow them to wash over your heart, soul, and mind. Allow them to penetrate your thoughts. Meditate on their truths. Allow them to sink down into your bones, to change you from the inside out. These prayers will grant you peace and comfort. They will challenge you and affirm you.
5. Prayer cards.
This is something I have done for years. I posted about them a while back. Prayer cards are a way to help you organize your prayers for each day. It is hard to get everything prayed for in a day. Although we must continue to remember that prayer isn’t a formula, it is an ongoing conversation. Sometimes we allow little issues to rattle around in our minds, which just continually distract or discourage us. Sometimes it’s bigger issues, things like jobs, or relationships, or money, or disease.
We carry things around that God invites us to set at His feet and prayer cards give us a way to organize our prayers each day so that we can pray it all through. They are handy to keep with you in your Bible, on a cork board, on a counter tip, or in your purse. They are an excellent way to ‘set your mind on things above.’
This is a tool which can be incorporated no matter what other resources or approaches you might use. Whether you prefer the written prayers, the prayer cards, the ACTS method, or something else, make sure you record what God is doing by keeping a prayer journal.
This doesn’t have to be fancy or neat or artsy, it’s just for you! A prayer journal is where you record His goodness to you, His answered prayers, His praises. In your prayer journal you can write about how He wows and amazes you, how He does ‘beyond what we can ask or imagine’, how His ways are ‘higher than our ways.’
Your prayer journal is intensely personal. It’s like a secret diary full of both tear-stained pages and praise pages. When you start one, write in it often. No one checks grammar, spelling, or the frequency. It’s all for your personal encouragement. Make it yours—plain, colorful, chronological, or random, big, small, ruled, or not.
Pray for Him to show off and glorify Himself. That is what He is always doing—glorifying Himself. Ask Him to open your eyes so you can see what He is doing all around you. Then take it all in, write it down, and marvel at Him who alone is Worthy!