How hard can it be? I have friends who excel in prayer. They inhale heaven and exhale God. They would rather pray than sleep. I sleep when I should pray. They belong to the PGA: Prayer Giants Association.
Not me. I’m a card-carrying member of the PWA: Prayer Wimps Anonymous.
Hello, my name is Max. I’m a recovering prayer wimp.
It’s true. I doze off when I pray. My thoughts zig, then zag, then zig again. If attention deficit disorder applies to prayer, I am afflicted. When I pray, I think of a thousand things I need to do, and I forget the one thing I set out to do: pray.
Sure. We all pray some
But wouldn’t we like to pray More? Better?
Prayer is not a privilege for the pious, not the art of a chosen few. Prayer is simply a heartfelt conversation between God and his child. My friend, he wants to talk with you. Even now, as you read these words, he taps at the door. Open it. Welcome him in. Let the conversation begin.
Prayer really is that simple. Resist the urge to complicate it. Don’t take pride in well-crafted prayers. Don’t apologize for incoherent prayers. No games. No cover-ups. Just be honest honest to God. Tell him everything that’s on your heart. Your worries, your fears, your unfixable fixes.
But here’s the thing about prayer. If it depends on how I pray, I’m sunk. But if the power of prayer depends on the One who hears the prayer, then I have hope.
And if the power of prayer comes from the One who hears it, then I don’t have to be timid.
You heard me right. Our prayers shouldn’t be bashful or half-hearted. They should be bold.
Boldness in prayer is an uncomfortable thought for many. We think of speaking softly to God, humbling ourselves before God, or having a chat with God but agonizing before God? Storming heaven with prayers? Wrestling with God? Isn’t such prayer irreverent? Presumptuous?
It would be had God not invited us to pray as such. “So let us come boldly to the very throne of God and stay there to receive his mercy and to find grace to help us in our times of need” (Hebrews 4:16 tlb).
So how do we go from prayer wimps to audacious prayers like that?
We start by consulting God in everything. Always. Immediately. Quickly. Live with one ear toward heaven. Keep the line open to God.
At every decision. At each crossroads. Acknowledge him, heed him, ask him, “Do I turn right or left?”
A relationship with God is exactly that, a relationship. His invitation is clear and simple: “Come and talk with me, O my people” (Ps. 27:8).
We abide with him, and he abides with us. He grants wisdom as we need it.
I once tried giving my wife, Denalyn, this level of guidance. We were using the GPS on my smartphone to locate a particular destination. Denalyn was driving, and I was reading the map. Just for the fun of it, I muted the volume on the voice and told her that I would share the direction at the moment she needed it, not before.
She did not like that plan. She wanted to know the entire itinerary at once. She preferred to have all the information rather than bits and pieces of it.
But I insisted. I told her, “This is good spiritual training. God works this way.”
“But you’re not God.”
Good point. I told her the entire itinerary.
But God doesn’t. He will help us in our trials and give us wisdom along the way. But we must regularly consult him. In everything. His word is a “lamp unto [our] feet” (Psalm 119:105), not a spotlight into the future. He gives enough light to take the next step.
Once we’re living like that, we’ll more easily call on God for great things.
That’s what my friend Greg Pruett does. He is trained as an engineer, linguist, and Bible translator. But his most significant contribution might be in the area of “extreme prayer.”
In 2008 he assumed the role as president of Pioneer Bible Translators. The great recession was sucking dollars out of the economy and confidence out of the public. The ministry’s financial chart indicated a free fall toward insolvency. Greg had no experience in leading such an organization, and he had no tangible place to cut expenses. Resources were few, and the donors were disappearing.
Greg knew of only one response: prayer. He says, “That’s when I began to learn not to pray about my strategies, but to make prayer the strategy.” He called on his board members to pray boldly and specifically.
And the next year he described the result. “When I saw the end-of-the-year report, I knew God had heard our prayers. I searched in vain for a tangible explanation. I wanted to find trends to explain how it worked, so we could do it again. I never could … I just know [God] provided. All I had was God and prayer.”
Maybe God and prayer are all you have too. Discouragement, deception, defeat, destruction, death. They roar into your world like a Hells Angels motorcycle gang.
Don’t give an inch. Respond in prayer honest, continual, and audacious prayer.
There’s power in even the simplest prayer. So if you’re looking for a seat at the next Prayer Wimps Anonymous meeting, you might find one next to this Texas preacher. I’ll be there, and I’ll be asking God for great things.
Pastor Max Lucado is a bestselling author of more than 32 books, including Glory Days: Living Your Promised Land Life Now and Before Amen: The Power of a Simple Prayer. He serves the people of Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas. (www.MaxLucado.com)
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