In Mathew 6, Jesus instructs his disciples in how to pray.
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
When we pray, we reveal what we believe to be true about the Lord. It’s our most intimate form of communication with Him, and, if we were able to write down what we prayed, we would be able to tell how we see him. Jesus is inviting us into a certain way of thinking about God.
While many of us grew up reciting these very words, we believe that this is the model that Jesus gave us. He teaches us to pray for several things in this prayer. He invites us into seeing God as our provider as we ask Him to provide our daily bread and sustenance. He invites us into seeing others as worthy of forgiveness, because of the forgiveness we have received. He invites us to trust Jesus as our protection from temptation and sin, instead of ourselves.
And here’s just a simple thought about our prayer lives:
It one of the greatest shaping tools for our hearts and minds that God has given us.
Yes, God meets us in prayer.
Yes, prayer ACTUALLY changes things.
Yes, prayer accomplishes things that we could not otherwise accomplish in our own power.
In scripture, men and women pray, and incredible things happen. Fire falls down. Lazarus comes back. Seas are parted. Forgiveness comes in unexpected places. Those things are true.
But I believe that it is also true, that as we pray in the way that Jesus called us to pray, that we are reminding ourselves of the things that actually matter.
We’re reminding ourselves of our true provider. We’re reminding ourselves that our joy and hope are found in Him. We’re reminding ourselves of where to look on our best and darkest days.
And in that, our hearts and minds are shaped.
I think there are two important questions about our prayer lives that we can ask.
1. If everything you prayed for in the last week came true, how much would the world change?
2. If everything you prayed for in the last week came true, how much would your life change?
Those are good questions because they ask this; How much do we believe God can do, and how much do we trust Him?
If we trust Him, we’ll pray to Him as our provider, our purpose-giver, and our hope. But we’ll also pray to the one who brings Heaven to earth and transforms it all for His glory.
As we pray that way, He’ll meet us there, and he’ll work on our hearts.
Prayer has been talked about as one of the great spiritual practices, or disciplines.
Like any practice, you’re shaping something. A stronger weight lifter. A faster runner. A quicker mind. A more gifted musician. Prayer is a practice that shapes the heart to look more like Jesus.
Prayer is the chisel that slowly wears down the pieces of us that don’t look like Him, and replaces those pieces with attitudes, affections, and hopes that are shaped by His love for us.
So yes, you should pray and believe that God is going to do incredible things through your prayers. But as you pray, even on the days when you feel like nothing is happening, you can trust that God is shaping and molding you into the image of the Son, keeping you from conformity to the world, and renewing your heart and mind as you press into Him.
What might God be calling you towards in your prayer life? I’m praying that God would lead you to consistency, a deeper relationship with Him, and a transformed heart as you push into His presence.
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