Rethinking how we pray

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My 12 yr old son, Josh, just asked me a couple weeks ago if we could start taking him to church early on Sunday evenings, because he wants to join a couple of his friends for a little prayer meeting. I asked him to tell me about it, and he said, “We want to keep it small, because we want to pray for each other, and no one wants to tell a big group stuff about yourself that you need prayer for. We don’t want it to end up where we all just share requests for people none of us know.”

I LOVED that!! He’s right! We’ve all been in prayer meetings where everyone is mentioning requests for their neighbor, or their distant relative…and no one there can even relate to what they’re saying. I’m not saying this is wrong…I just get frustrated with it sometimes, because it seems like no one wants to actually share their OWN needs. I think Josh nailed it, though, in the fact that small groups are much better for actual transparency with this than big ones where it tends to get more non-personal.

Josh and I ended up having a great discussion about all this, and he made another observation that was interesting to me. I asked him (as I was venting my frustrations about superficial prayer meetings) if he had ever noticed how most prayer requests are for physical problems, rather than spiritual ones. I mean, aren’t spiritual problems of much greater importance…and if so, why are we so focused on the physical ones? He said, “Yeah, mom, and why do we worry so much about the physical problems anyway? It’s like we want to keep everyone right here on earth forever.” Wow…”from the mouths of babes”…

Now, I’m not saying we shouldn’t pray for physical issues, or for people who are battling serious physical problems. It’s clear in Scripture that we SHOULD pray. But I do think we tend to focus MORE attention on the physical than the spiritual… and I don’t believe that THAT is scriptural. And I do think Josh has a point here– that we tend to cling to this physical life, as if that’s all we have.

Colossians 3:1-2 tells us to “keep seeking the things above”…and to “set your mind on things above, not on the things that are on earth.” If we’re doing that, it should transform our prayer lives. I’m still learning this lesson. I still tend to beg for the health and safety of my loved ones (especially my kids!) and I have to make a conscious effort to pry my fingers off of them and rest in the fact that God loves them more than I do. It’s a growth process, for sure, but I’m trying to set my mind on things above…and I want my prayer life to reflect that!

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8 Responses to “Rethinking how we pray”

  1. Brenda C. Says:

    The bigger the group, the less I tend to share. As for large groups and lots of requests to pray for strangers … it’s hard to work up a care when the list is so long and the majority of the people are unknown to me. I mean, God knows I’m only praying for some of those out of a sense of obligation.

    Maybe the reason that physical illness, disease, and injuries are the most popular prayer requests is due to the visible answer. People either heal or they don’t. They live or they die. We are a society that loves a quick fix.

  2. Cathy Says:

    Charity…check out the book “A Praying Life” by Paul Miller…it will radically change not only your prayer life, but much more! I am almost through and can’t wait to start back again to help it all sink in. We have a standing “courtesy rule” in our Women’s Bible Study that states to please keep your requests either personal or involving your immediate family…but no one seems to be able to do it! I think that one reason we pray for our own or other’s physical healing is that we tend to ask for what we want most (our comfort) rather than first ask God what He is doing, and if He has a purpose in it. Then, once we get that answer, we can pray according to His will…and He promises to answer that one every time! I love the line in a current song that says “I tried to hear from heaven, but I talked the whole time” !! so true!!

  3. Sara Says:

    Wow…I’m amazed at Josh’s insight and his level of spiritual maturity!! I believe you both hit the nail on the head. Praying for the spiritual issues/problems in our lives and the lives of our family and friends HAS to be our # 1 priority. Prayer for relief of pain, disease, suffering, etc is important, but we should probably constantly remind ourselves to say “Thy will be done” and then ask for lots of grace for those suffering. He never promised us relief from the physical….just assurance that’d He’d be with us!

  4. Dana Says:

    Interesting blog. Our children are so much brighter than we are. Their hearts are pure and they make so much sense. My son informed me at 11:00 Tue nite that he wanted to go to Bible study/prayer time with a few guys at 6:45 the next am. I was at first saying “What”? You tell me this now!” Then a quiet nudge to my heart said ” Let him go. He desires this over all the worldly options out there. He is willing to get up early, be spiritually fed then go to school for 8 hours.” So my worldy thinking was, because his asthma is bad right now and he has ben sick, if he goes in the am then he needs to stay at home Wed nite and rest. He replied to say, ” Mom you can’t make me NOT go to church tonite. That’s crazy. It’s church, I need to go.” Wow, my teenage son desires God and I am worried about his physical being ( which God has total control over ). How sinful are we that we focus on continual worldly conflicts and neglect our spiritual souls.
    Jon’s funeral was amazing that the focus was not all on what HE did but who was his driving force behind who he was. The most important thing about that sad event was that God was glorified and the Gospel was presented to so many that may not have gotten it any other way. Jon would have liked that the most. We spend soooo much time on worldly pain and not on spiritual importance. Thank you for reminding us. God, please forgive us all for our superficial religion.

  5. Charity Says:

    Brenda, you just crack me up! “it’s hard to work up a care”…hahaha! Unfortunately, I’ve been right there with ya! I WANT to care, but really, I have no idea who these people are, and what God’s doing in their lives. How in the world am I supposed to pray? who am I to presume I know what to ask God to do? ahhh- so frustrating.

    Thanks, Cathy, for the book recommendation. Sound interesting, and I love the idea of God using it to transform my thinking on prayer…that’s something God’s been working on with me lately. Also, great thoughts on asking God about His purposes before we go spouting off our desires. Thanks for sharing that!

    And Sara, I love what you said!! You’re so right…”Thy will be done”—that’s our example and that’s what we need to constantly remind ourselves of! Jesus poured out his heart to the Father, then immediately surrendered his will. If we could just follow that example!!

    Dana, I love your son’s passion for God! Isn’t it cool when God teaches us something though our kids?! I’m so glad to hear that God was glorified through Jon’s funeral. I wish I could’ve been there, but I was praying that God would be speaking to hearts and that lives would be changed through it all. I’m continuing to pray for that. Thanks for your comments!

  6. Regina Says:

    Way to go, Josh!! Your kids are so awesome!!

  7. Charity Says:

    wow, thanks, Gina!! (I’ll tell Josh what you said!) I’m so glad you think they’re awesome–especially since they pretty much live at your house as much as they do mine!! hahaha

  8. Laura M. Says:

    Hey Charity! I somehow missed this entry in your blog! Thanks for telling me about it today! Excellent points!! I may link it or copy it to my page as you have worded things so well…

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