From my Desk: The Power of Prayer

Before I learned the discipline of prayer, my life was very difficult. Though prayer did not immediately change my circumstances, it changed my heart.

The last semester of college was filled with anxiety, stress and sleeplessness. The period after graduation was a time of recovery and renewal. Unsure of where I was going, I began to pray daily and asked God to reveal his path for me.

When I started praying every day, I began writing them down in bullet points. Before I got into the habit of writing my prayers, I tended to breeze through my conversations with God without taking time to think about what I was actually saying or even who I was praying to. My practice was disconnected from an actual relationship. Journaling helped me be more intentional with my words, and remember to pray for people I had promised I would.

I was also able to look back, find prayers that God had answered, and thank him. Writing my prayers helped me discern that when God said “no,” he was actually saying a bigger “yes” to something he had planned for me.

My prayer journal is organized into five categories: repentance, gratitude, personal requests, requests for others and requests for God. Occasionally, I write letters to God instead of bullet points.

Repentance reminds me that I am forgiven.

Gratitude reminds me of God’s blessing in my life.

Personal requests reminds me that I am fully dependent on God.

Requests for others prompts me to think about and love others.

Requests for God remind me of the big picture of life.

Prayer is a conversation with God. The second half of prayer is meditation — being still and knowing who God is (Psalm 46:10). In this place of peace, we quiet our thoughts so God can speak to us. We feel his love, power, wisdom and grace. In this state of being we so seldom visit, God reminds us of what’s most important and gives us clarity in our life.

“Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him.” – Psalm 62:5

We often desire more answers from God, but he gives us what we need for the moment. He wants us to grow in faith, like Peter when he stepped out of the boat and walked on the water towards Jesus (Matthew 14:22-33). As long as we focus on him, he will guide us towards where we need to go. If God answered all of our questions, we would stop looking to him for guidance and forget that he showed us the way. We would fearfully look at the troubles around us and begin to sink like Peter did when he took his eyes off Jesus.

This is not the only way to pray.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 says to “pray without ceasing.” When I engage in this practice, I say little requests or thanks to God anytime I remember this verse in my mind. This cultivates a spirit of gratitude and personal relationship with God.

The disciples themselves asked Jesus how to pray and he responded, “Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today the food we need, and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.” -Matthew 6:10-13.

The essence of prayer is a relationship. God knows what we’re going to say before it appears in our minds. More than anything else,  He desires a relationship with us. He delights when we go to him. When we pray, the Spirit transforms our desires to align with God’s and alters our perspective in life. “Let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes.” -Ephesians 4:23

I don’t always feel like praying or have the right attitude and heart. But I know the discipline of praying every day will help me find peace in my heart and mind.

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” -Philippians 4:6-7

The more I pursue God, the more I hunger for him.

“O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you;  my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water.” -Psalm 63:1

The more I hunger for God, the more he satisfies my desires.

Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” -John 6:35

(Originally Published in the newspaper The Hespirian-Beacon on 12/09/19

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