Cultivating a Life of Prayer

Posted on Mar 23, 2012 in Faith | 69 comments

Recently I was amazed when God answered a prayer I had uttered just the night before.  To set the stage, for quite some time the number of my Facebook Friends had been hovering around 660.  I had silently been dreading that number becoming “the number of the beast” in Revelation 13… maybe not a big deal to others, but I didn’t want that number and all it represents on my Facebook page.  So upon returning home from several days away, when I checked emails and Facebook before going to bed, you can imagine my relative shock when I saw “the number.”  Immediately I wondered whom I could ask to be my “friend,” (merely to change the last of three numerals!) but it was late, I was tired, and instead I asked God if He would please “handle the situation” for me–words I find myself using more and more often in my prayers.

The next morning I admit I had completely forgotten about both the number and my prayer request when I opened my Facebook page to post a Scripture my mind had been singing all the way home from the gym.  (Interestingly, that song was “I lift my eyes up to the hills–where does my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord….” from Psalm 121, sung by Casting Crowns.)  This time I was shocked to see a new number–an okay, wonderful number!  In the midst of my amazement that God had answered my prayer literally overnight, I learned someone had “accepted my friend request.”  BUT PLEASE HEAR ME:  I did not recognize this person’s name or face, nor do I remember ever “requesting friendship.”  I am totally serious!  I laughed out loud at the miraculous power of my God… it’s as if He went into my Facebook account, made a friend request, and had that person accept–all while I was sleeping.  With a smile on my face and beaming even more from my heart, I thanked God for caring… and for acting on my behalf.

I realize this example of prayer may seem like just a little thing, but please let it serve to make several points that are huge.  First of all, not only did the God of the universe very quickly and creatively “handle my situation,” but in doing so He strengthened our relationship and my faith in Him all the more.  He showed me He is right there listening to me and has unlimited, inhuman power to do what I ask of Him.  The former grows my trust; the latter increases my confidence… both in a God I cannot see but Who makes His presence most assuredly known.  All these answers to my “little prayers” continually build on each other, giving me an ever-increasing measure of faith.  As needs arise for God to “handle” bigger situations in my life, I can remember that my Helper has heard my petitions before, come to my rescue (many times), and that He faithfully will again.  “Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage” (Psalm 84:5).  How infinitely wonderful, meaningful, and safe but exciting it is to be on a journey with God!

Secondly, we needn’t be concerned whether a request is too little or too big; rather it is the voicing of the request which cultivates a relationship with God and a life of prayer.  Who knows–maybe it was a very big deal to GOD that “the number of the beast” didn’t appear on my Facebook page!  Only He knows.  The point is that just as human relationships grow and flourish by communicating, it is VITAL to spend time talking and listening to God… to get to know each other–much the same as two people falling in love.  Have a special place you go every day to “be with” God, or spontaneously meet Him somewhere new and different.  But BE with Him, and see what He has to say to you in His Word.  “Be still, and know that I am God….” (Psalm 46:10).  In His presence is where we find strength, peace and joy–and where we are able to hear his “gentle whisper” (see 1 Kings 19:11-13).

Lastly, pray specifically.  When we ask detailed requests of God, it is easy to see His specific answers.  This not only applies to recognizing when He responds overnight in a way we like; it also proves meaningful when we’ve been praying the same prayer for months or even years, and it seems God is not answering.  But He is.  Over many years–and even more tears–I have learned His “lack of answer” is actually His current answer.  For the time being, as much as it might not be what I want (hmmm… do I think I know better than God what is good for me?), His answer is simply “no.”  Or possibly “not yet.”  But because I KNOW He listens, cares and answers, I can trust He is not granting my request for a reason… HIS perfect reason.  I like to recall when Jesus knew Lazarus was deathly ill but waited “two more days” before going to see him (John 11:6).  Jesus had a reason for His timing:  “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” (John 11:40).  The more we grow in our relationship with our triune God, the more we will trust His love, goodness and will for our life.

Now when I think about the miraculous way God answered my “Facebook prayer,” I am struck that maybe the craziest part of the story is not what He did, but that I was amazed He did it.  Why wouldn’t He want to answer our prayers?  Why wouldn’t He perform miracles in our life?!  He is GOD… that’s what He does!

Indeed, as I type these words, I lift my eyes up to the Rocky Mountains right outside my windows, and no matter the situation–where does my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth…. Oh, God is good.  He is so, so good!

Thank You, my amazing Lord.  I LOVE YOU, “my strength and my song….” (Isaiah 12:2)!

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