Some Thoughts on Prayer
I've recently been thinking a lot about prayer. As is probably true for most of us, I desire to see a miraculous, supernatural move of God that surpasses "all that we could ask or think..." (Ephesians 3:20). I want to experience something so far beyond my natural understanding that there is no longer any room in my mind to doubt the reality of God's love for me and His personal interest in my life. I want to encounter the "God of the impossible". Inherently, I know that He wants to demonstrate that miracle working power in my life, but I sometimes wonder why I'm not seeing much of it. I pray, I ask for it, I do what I know to experience Him, yet this depth of relationship with the Most High still remains elusive.
As I've been thinking and praying about this, I've found myself asking a simple question. Could the answer lie, not in what I'm praying for, but in the way I pray? Could there be an underlying principle that I'm not applying to my prayer life that might be hindering God's hand?
As Ive pondered that question, I've begun to see a very basic principle that we apply in most of our Christian lives. In short, it is "you reap what you sow" (Galatians 6:7. We know that we are judged with the same measure that we judge (Matthew 7:1-2). We receive with the same measure that we give (Luke 6:38; 2 Corinthians 9:6). If we sow to the flesh, we reap the corruption of the flesh, but if we sow to the spirit we reap everlasting life (Galatians 6:8). We are admonished to treat others the way we want them to treat us (Matthew 7:12; Luke 6:31). If we live by the sword, we die by the sword (Matthew 26:52). In other words, what we receive is directly proportional to the way we invest our lives. There are probably dozens more examples in the Scriptures that underscore this simple principle.
When I examine the way I "sow" my time in prayer, I discover that the vast majority of my prayer time is spent petitioning God for the things I believe He wants for myself and for others. While this is not a bad thing, my prayer life may lack an extremely important element if I really desire to see His will and a move of His supernatural power. I've already hinted at that missing ingredient when I stated in the opening paragraph that, "I do what I know to experience Him...".
Paul tells us in Romans 8:26 that we don't know how to pray as we should! As convinced as I am that I know all I need to know about how God would have me pray, the Scripture states otherwise. And if the Scripture states otherwise, one of us is in error! As much as I hate to admit it, every time I have discovered a conflict of opinion between what I think and what the Scripture reveals, it has been me that was mistaken, not the Bible, so I'm guessing it's no different in this case!
Paul goes on to teach us that the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Could this kind of supernatural intercession be the missing ingredient in my prayer life? Paul said in 1 Corinthians 14 that he didn't limit His prayer life to only those things He understood. He shares in verse 14 that when he prays in an unknown tongue, it is his spirit praying - his understanding is unfruitful. Paul's solution in verse 15 was to pray both with the spirit and with the understanding. And he carries this principle into his song to the Lord as well. When I contrast that with my normal prayer life, I realize that, though I've been filled with the Holy Spirit and can pray in tongues, I seldom do pray in the Spirit. Somehow, since the day I first began practicing my prayer language, I've gradually let my understanding take control of my prayer life. In short, I'm sowing natural prayer, but still expecting a supernatural response from God.
The irony, of course, is that while I'm crying out, "God, take control...", and knowing that He wants to do so, I'm doing it in a way that ensures that I maintain control! Maybe for Him to really be in control of my life, I need to go back to the place where I give Him full control of my tongue in my prayer life once again.