I just read a book that has grabbed my attention, The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson. The book has me thinking about prayer in many new ways.
The author suggests that we become bold in praying for God’s promises, that we pray for our biggest dreams with boldness and confidence. We should pray long and hard and with persistence.
A little over a year ago, I decided I needed to spruce up my prayer life. I started writing down a prayer list of names, adding to it frequently. That list has grown pages long, and, trying to be obedient to God, I have read through this list in prayer every day. Unfortunately that prayer time has become just listing off those names, asking God to meet their needs and draw them closer to him. Amen.
I’m realizing that all my prayers have become that boring. Rote. Repeating tired words, sluggish words and phrases such as “become right with you,” “as you think best,” “if it’s your will,” and “be with them.” I can say these things when my mind is ten thousand miles away and when I’m more than half asleep.
Now of course, it’s the right thing to want our prayers to be according to God’s will.
James 4:15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”
However, it’s lazy if I let that be the end of my prayer.
The idea of praying boldly, with confidence—this is hard for me to swallow. How can I be sure that what I’m asking for is God’s will? Who am I to be bold to God?
Mark 10: 51: “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”
People in the crowd tried to make the man be quiet, but Jesus gave him permission to ask for what he wanted. Why shouldn’t I believe that Jesus gives me that permission too?
Psalm 37:4: Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires.
I’ve always taken that to mean that if we focus our hearts on God, he will put in them desires that are the right kind. I think there’s truth in that, but I wonder if maybe I’m not short-changing myself on what God promises.
Certainly God does not give us things that are bad for us or others. James 4:2-3. How can we know if what we desire is his will? I have no new easy answers for that. We still need to read God’s word and study it to learn better what is his will. I need to grow in my faith and belief that he will give good things to me, and it’s okay for me to ask him to help me with that too.
Mark 9:24: Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
Moses was known to be meek. But when God was so angry with the people of Israel he wanted to destroy them all, Moses begged God to fulfil his promises. Numbers 14:17-19. No, I do not mean that the consequences of our sin go away. But David was certainly bold, even though he knew and admitted his sin.
Psalm 6: 1-2: Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath. Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am faint; heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony.
Can I really be confident that God will answer my prayers?
James 5:16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
I’m certainly not righteous.
Philippians 3: 9: “And be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.”
My arguments keep running into dead ends.
Luke 18:1: Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.
The parable of the persistent widow. An unjust judge finally gave the widow what she wanted, because she kept coming to him and asking. Jesus asked the people if that judge finally helped the woman, wouldn’t God take care of those who come to him?
Luke 18:8: I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
Ephesians 3:20-21: Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
I need to be careful not to limit what God can do. My heart and mind may be small, but God’s power is so amazing.
Another thought I got from THE CIRCLE MAKER is that we can change history with our prayers. If by my prayers, I allow God to change my heart, this allows God to do things through my life that he could not have done if I hadn’t allowed him to. This is still an area where I need much growth, in faith and understanding and practice. But I am excited to learn what God will do.
Psalm 19:14: May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.