“The Word of God represents all the possibilities of God at the disposal of true prayer.” – A.T. Pierson
“I’d rather teach one man to pray than ten to preach.” – J.H. Jowett
Confession in our personal prayers often takes the form of dredging up every possible sin to bring before God. There is a scene in the movie, Luther, where Martin Luther is spending long hours in the confessional of the monastery to the point where the other priest is getting bored with him. Now I do not think God ever gets bored of us coming to Him. But I do think God wants us to know that sin has been dealt with. The purpose of confession in our prayers is not to get our sins forgiven. They are already forgiven. The purpose of confession is to remind ourselves of this truth and to thank Jesus for the forgiveness given to us. Confession is not to rehash the shame of sin, but to annihilate shame’s very existence in our lives.
We have a choice of which voice we will follow. Will it be the voice of condemnation or the voice of life? Our prayers are an agreement with what the Son of God has already said is true about us, others, and the world around us. Listen to what His Spirit is saying to you and pray along with Him as partners in His work.
Is the purpose of prayer to get what we want? Absolutely not! We can all agree to this, but how many of us practically live this out? We come to God with our lists, then we question the significance of prayer when we don’t get what we pray for. Since we don’t see the answers, we give up. Maybe the reason that so many have had a hard time with prayer is because our focus is incorrect.
Last night as I was praying with my older daughter and putting her to bed, she was going through her list of people she wanted me to pray for. She decided to add a few new people to the list, and I started thinking how this is like our relationship with Jesus. Here was my daughter just telling me who she wanted to pray for, and I was the one who flushed this out in prayer. Now this is not a perfect analogy, but Jesus lives always to intercede for us.
We are all familiar with this, but the busyness of life becomes so great that we feel we have no choice. The tyranny of the urgent over plays the desires within our spirit to reach out to God. Unfortunately, too often this leads to self-abasement. Self-abasement is from the devil. The Holy Spirit does point out things we should change, but His way offers hope. What’s the difference between guilt and conviction? One leads to discouragement, shame, and depression; the other leads to hope, life, and change.
“All great soul-winners – men of much & mighty prayer, & all great revivals – preceded & carried out by [consistent prayer].” – Samuel Brengle