PRAYER–UNDERUSED, NEGLECTED, and IGNORED: 3 Attitude Changes
What’s the hardest thing about prayer for you? I once took an informal survey of about 25 friends on this very question. I got a variety of answers. But as most of my friends explained their answers, it really boiled down to one main thing: I’m just too busy to pray.
No matter how you might struggle with prayer, the net result is that Church-wide, nationwide, and worldwide, prayer is underused, neglected, and ignored. So what’s up with that? I’m being serious. Why don’t we practice the privilege of prayer more? Is it a lack of education? A lack of understanding? A lack of time? A lack of effort? A lack of faith? A lack of confidence? Why, oh why, do we blow it off?
I assure you, if I knew the tried, tested, and true answer, I would package it, sell it, and be the richest woman around. (You think I’m kidding…..) Most pastors would tell you that a lack of prayer in their church is a perpetual problem. And I would agree wholeheartedly!
Now, I could tell you about several keys or essentials to follow when we pray. But I’m not gonna do that. You see, prayer is far less about the rules we follow and far more about Who we follow. So instead, I’d like to share with you three attitudes toward prayer that just may invite you pray a little more frequently than you do.
Attitude #1: When you pray, EXPERIENCE GOD.
- How many times do you dive right into your quiet times of prayer and bible study and do not even acknowledge the presence of God? All too frequently, during our daily quiet times or even at our worship services, we come into God’s presence flippantly, not really aware of Who we’re talking to and how awesome He truly is. We are so guilty of this as we pray “on the fly.” (In the shower, on the drive to work, etc.) I am not discounting those times of prayer at all. Those are vital times we spend in conversation with our Creator. But all too often, we miss out on the whole “God experience,” the whole encounter with the Almighty because we pray so quickly and flippantly…limiting our prayers to a long laundry list of concerns we want God to fix for us.
- When we slow down, pay attention, and when God is our initial, immediate focus we are able to release those things that concern us so that we can become altogether lost in the majesty of His presence and the joy of His ministry to us.
Attitude #2: When you pray, EXPRESS YOUR HEART.
- Have you ever been around a brand new Christian when they pray? Or perhaps a child or young person? There is this incredible freedom…there’s an uninhibited abandon that just flows out of their mouths and you know that what they’re saying is coming directly from their hearts. They haven’t been around long enough to know that we Christians ridiculously impose all kinds of “rules” about prayer. Somewhere we (as grown up Christians) have lost the creativity… the spontaneity… We’ve lost the ability to just express our hearts because we’ve gotten so caught up in doing it “correctly.”
- I went to a prayer meeting once in which the leader began the meeting by praying this: “Well, God, here we are…” And I remember being taken aback and wanting to laugh out loud. Not because it was wrong or inappropriate or funny…but because it was refreshingly genuine and unlike anything I had experienced. You see, the leader was just expressing her heart.
- King David said in Psalm 62:8 “Trust in, lean on, rely on, and have confidence in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts before Him” (AMP). King David poured his heart out regularly before the Lord. If the man after God’s own heart prayed this way, shouldn’t we?
Attitude #3: When you pray, EXPECT GREAT THINGS.
- Over and over again in Scripture, we see evidence of people praying and something significant happening shortly there after. Consider Acts 4:31, “After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.” And how about 2 Chronicles 7:1, “When Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the LORD filled the temple.” Wow! After these folks prayed, the power of God was revealed in some incredible way. Can we expect the same results? Should we expect the same results? I don’t think we’re too far off the mark if we expect great things when we pray.
- We have an extraordinary, amazing, mind-blowing, remarkable, great big God who is just begging to blow us away. He longs to show us a little piece of His glory. Why not begin to expect it?
Early converts to the Christian faith in Africa had a separate spot out in the thicket where they would pour their hearts out in prayer to God. They prayed so frequently that they wore paths in the grass out to the spot where they prayed. But, if somebody began to be negligent in prayer, others would kindly remind him, “Brother, the grass grows on your path.”
Is the grass growing on your path because you are neglecting this powerful privilege called prayer? If so, perhaps it’s time to alter your attitude.
What changes in attitude toward prayer will you make beginning today?