Approaching Prayer as a Privilege

Published on 1 September 2023 at 10:28

Faith is like a muscle that needs to be trained and continually built up. Doubt is inevitable for every broken believer, and without habitually and intentionally strengthening our hope for and belief in the things unseen, whatever faith we have can be snuffed out all too easily if we don't know how to return back to that solid ground. 

I have recently been in a posture of reflection, specifically on what areas I could be more spiritually disciplined. I ask myself, "Where in my life am I not living up to the potential God calls me to be in the most intimate relationship with Him possible?". Instantly, as if the Holy Spirit had been most patiently and eagerly waiting to respond, I heard it. 


This came as no surprise, as I have always been self-aware enough to know that this is an area that I could be more intentional in, but hearing the Holy Spirit call it to the light was more impactful and carried a greater sense of urgency. I say urgency because God's Word makes it undeniably clear how prayer is not only necessary for our spiritual health, but is one of our greatest weapons against spiritual attack. Colossians 4:2 instructs, "Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful." Watchful and thankful to what? Actively waiting for God to reveal Himself, to reveal the Holy Spirit working in plain sight where we might glance over; to reveal our next step to take, and to reveal where the enemy is attacking. And thankful to God that not only can we trust in Him to provide for our needs and heavenly desires, but that we even have the privilege of having a conversation with Him in the first place. Further, Philippians 4:6 tells us how and when to approach prayer; "In every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." Paul reminds us that the Lord wants us to come to Him in EVERY situation. Critical financial decisions, job movements, family matters all warrant fervent prayer, but so does sitting with your morning coffee, or building Legos on the floor with your toddler. Paul doesn't tell us "When you have a big decision, present your requests to God." Our entire day is made up of a multitude of moments, and we are called to be in spiritual awareness and reliance in all of them. 

Our church body was recently challenged by our pastor to devote one day a week to fasting and prayer, and to my surprise, the Holy Spirit stirred an excitement in me that I was not expecting. I decided this would be the perfect opportunity to my feet to the pavement and do the work behind simply admitting I want to be better about prayer. God said I hear your heart, now let me see it. This was my first time ever fasting, and while it had its moments of difficulty, it was an incredibly enlightening experience for two reasons.

First, I was reminded how beautiful God's grace is. It is easy to forget just how freeing His grace is when we consider only those things that we are not having to go without. My fast wasn't perfect. I did cave in and enjoy dinner with my family that evening, but my heart for that dinner was like nothing I had ever experienced. When we prayed to bless the food, I could hear the shift in my prayer from blessing for the sake of blessing, to sincere and earnest gratitude for something I did not deserve, but was yearning for. Also, the freedom from punishing myself for not executing my fast perfectly. God sees the heart behind the work, not the perfection or lack of to which the work was executed. When He gives us grace for being imperfect, who are we to put ourselves down and count ourselves as less than adequate?  Our judgement is skewed, our hearts have cracks, and our will is free. No matter how inflated our egos may become, we are not wise enough to be judge and jury of ourselves according to God's perfect love. That is enemy manipulation and only leads to our own despair. 

Second, I gained a greater understanding of what a privilege prayer actually is. God's one and only desire in the garden was to be in relationship with his creation. A walking, talking relationship. I couldn't begin to imagine not being able to talk to my children, or to my husband, and those are worldly relationships. The sadness our Father must feel when we choose not to take advantage of his gift of conversation without sacrifice. He said that the days of laying down the cows and the doves and the lambs at the altar died when my son did, and yet still, I hardly hear from you. To have thousands of years of Old Testament law washed away by the blood of Jesus so that all we have to do is CHOOSE to talk to Him, I can't think of a greater privilege. During my fast, when I was hungry, I prayed for strength. When I was tired, I prayed for Holy Spirit energy. When I saw the Holy Spirit active in my home because I was abiding and looking for it, the scales fell from my eyes. I had never prayed so much in one day, and that led me to my final, most radical realization.


What if, just what if, we prayed to thank God just for being Him, without bringing any requests at all.


I say this with a touch of sarcasm, because when I listened to my prayers that day, they sounded like a child of God who had felt the glory of basking in salvation and had nothing else to give EXCEPT for praise. And honestly, it didn't sound like me! But I knew it sounded like who I want to be, and what I want my prayer life to sound each new day.

The days of laying down the cows and the doves

and the lambs at the altar died when my son did,

and yet still, I hardly hear from you.

I started practicing this more with my son as well. Involving Him in prayer has been helpful for my accountability, and for His sweet spirit. I lead Him through a list of what we thank God for that day, and with a two year old, that list is beautifully excessive. We pray for dog food, mommy's car, and sidewalk chalk. But the thing is, by the time we have rattled off all that we are thankful for, it seems silly to even ask for anything at that point. When we posture ourselves for thanksgiving first, following with requests feels significantly less crucial to our spiritual satisfaction.

Faith is not simply hoping that there is something bigger than us, or some master plan. Faith is a hope in an objective truth (the Word of God), that although we can't see what is ahead, we trust that it is good. This faith is tested when we feel lost in the wilderness, and it is doubtful when we fall victim to our own humanity or the enemy's attacks. This is why we must habitually strengthen it so that we can stand on solid ground when waters rage. Prayer is a privilege that allows us to worship God through praising Him in prayer. So let us storm the gates of hell and aggravate the fallen angel of worship by showing up in all situations, with all of the thanksgiving, to worship the God of Heaven and Earth.


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