Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A First Step Toward Praying Deliberately


God acts, in and around us, whether we ask Him to or not.  He is a God who initiates.  He initiated all
of creation, and He initiates blessing upon blessing in our lives every day simply because He loves us.

But some of His blessings only come when we ask. James says, "You have not because you ask not." (James 4:3) This is an amazing truth.  Through prayer, we have been given the privilege of initiating blessings, for ourselves and for others. But we often (usually?) treat prayer so lightly that our prayers become ineffective.

The kinds of prayers that result in blessings are deliberate and intentional.  Too often my prayers are not that kind. I need to be constantly reminded that the great privilege He has given us in prayer calls for a consciously thoughtful approach to His throne.

When I come to God's throne deliberately and thoughtfully, He asks me questions that help me focus my prayers.  The first question He asks is, "To Whom are you praying?" Answering this question is the first step toward a more effective prayer time.

Praying With God-Awareness

The answer is obvious--so obvious that our awareness of the One we are coming to can get lost in our coming if we're not careful.  God--the reality of his presence and the beauty of his character--must be our focus in prayer.  

If I come to him with my mind full of the things I want to ask for, my head down, and my focus on myself, I'm not really praying. I'm just talking to myself.  Expecting Him to act on my requests is like expecting the caboose to push the train.  It just doesn't work.  Effective praying begins with an awareness of God's presence, His power, and His great compassion for us.

A focus on God does not come naturally.  It must be deliberately sought and deliberately maintained as we pray. Our visible surroundings will overwhelm invisible realities if we don't consciously remind ourselves of what matters when we pray, and what matters first and foremost is the One we are speaking with. 

I find praying on my knees helps to keep me focused on God.  It puts my body in the proper position before Him and it keeps me more aware of His presence.  When I'm on my knees, the rest of the world dissolves and I'm better able to visualize (in a proper way) the reality of His presence.

If you'd like an aid to becoming more God-aware in your prayers, here's a helpful one online.  Try listening to the first seven minutes of this video on Living Still.  Seven minutes is a long time!  It will be difficult to settle into this kind of listening.  But it will lead you into God's presence in a delightful way if you let it.

May we come to Him with a deliberate awareness of who He is.
May we be still, and know what it means to that He is God.
(Psalm 46:10)

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