I woke up yesterday morning, brewed a fresh hot cup of aromatic coffee and sat down in my quiet place to talk to the Almighty as I have done for the past 20 years of my life. At first it felt normal, quaint, even usual. In that same moment something different was stirring. As I uttered my first few words, I felt a sense of disappointment; a rendering in my soul that quietly whispered, “there’s something missing.” My faith was seemingly taken to task. Every part of my spirit was simultaneously crushed and yet filled with anxious hope all at the same time. I was on to something. God was moving deeply. I didn’t quite know what it meant, but I craved for understanding.
Most of the time, I follow my very articulate prayer list to the tee. It has served me well for two long decades, but somehow it looked old and dusty. I stared at this long list of requests and thought, “Why? Why am I doing this over and over and over.” Of course I reasoned with myself. “Because you care about people, you care about God.” That made sense, so I started in again with my prayers. Prayers for my amazing wife, my struggling kids, my hurting family and my lost friends. Prayers that can take quite some time to get through if I fervently seek out God. All this is good, but like I said, something was missing. Let me first make something very clear here…
There was absolutely nothing wrong with what I was praying, it was how I was praying that gave me great pause.
Discipline and routine are wonderfully needed. It can take years before we realize how much we need a good sense of structure in our lives. Most of the people I know that have significant struggles tend to be less disciplined. I know this well because that was me for many years. My point is that the very thing I was missing had nothing to do with my prayer structure but had everything to do with how I entered into God’s presence.
I love my kids and I know they love their dad. I could never count the number of times they have come to me to ask for things. When they approach me, it’s usually pretty straightforward. My kids don’t mince words, they just come out and say it.
“Dad, can you give me twenty bucks so I can go to the mall with my friends?”
“Dad, can I take the car tonight?”
“Dad, I really want that new make-up, can you get it for me?”
They ask and I answer. But I couldn’t imagine them coming to me, cowering in shame or fear, giving me those same requests. It wouldn’t even feel right.
“Dad, my friends are going out and I’d like to have some cash on me. Can I get twenty bucks from you? You don’t have to give it to me if you don’t want to. Just thought I’d ask.”
“Dad, I’d really like to use the car this afternoon. I know it’s probably stupid to ask, so if you say no, I’ll totally understand.“
“Dad, I’ve been looking at this make-up online and it’s pretty cool. Man, I’d love to have it. I know you probably think it’s too much for me, so don’t worry about it.“
Can you see the difference? The way my kids approach me is bold and real. They just ask and tell me their heart. They don’t mince words and give me an out, they just say what they want and leave it in my hands. Certainly I can answer any way I want to, and even disappoint them from time to time, but that never changes the way they ask. They simply come forward and talk to their dad.
How come I always qualify my prayers? You know what I mean? Have you ever done it yourself? You know…
“God, would you help me with this? But, not my will, your will be done.”
It’s almost a fatalist view of prayer. It isn’t bold. It isn’t sharing the depth of what you desire. And the truth is, it’s filled with fear. Check out what’s written in 1 John 5:14-15,
“And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him. And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for.”
John writes that we should have complete confidence when we make our requests to God. Don’t get me wrong here, God will not just give us anything we ask for. But what I do see Him saying is, “Ask me with boldness. Tell me your heart. Don’t hold back and don’t be afraid. Just ask.” And if our hearts are aligned with His, our prayers, as bold as they can be, will be answered in ways that may surprise us.
I began to pray differently that morning. I asked for things in a bold and fresh approach. I left the whole, “thy will be done” stuff off the table. It didn’t make it’s way into my conversation. God knows his will prevails. I don’t need to remind him. What I do need to do is “…come boldly to the throne of our gracious God” as stated in Hebrews 4:16 and let him know my requests.
Friends, God isn’t a Genie in a lamp that we need to rub the right way in order for him to appear. God is our Dad in heaven! He is waiting for you and I to come to him with boldness in our time together. Yes, routine is great, discipline is wonderful, but being fearless is even better.
If your prayer life has become dull like mine, take a fresh approach to God. Love him with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and then approach him with your requests. He’s a big boy and can handle it. Leave the decision making up to him, BUT BE BOLD! I do not believe for one second you will regret it. I’m beginning to think that when I ask for God’s will at the end of every prayer, what I’m actually professing is fear. No more fear for me and no more fear for you. Let’s go to God with boldness and be a fearless prayer warrior with a Dad that loves us more than we could ever imagine.