Prayers That Begin By Listening

Shane Claiborne recently wrote an article on prayer for Relevant Magazine. He makes a great point regarding the slight (or drastic…depending how you view it) downward turn our prayer lives have turned. Shane points out the selfishness in most of our prayers, in that, we generally ask God to come through for us on conditional terms.

You know…the whole, “I’ll read more of Your Word God if you answer this one prayer.”

The “revolutionary” suggested we positively revert to old liturgical prayers, ultimately, so that we don’t spend most of our time interceding for ourselves. Liturgical prayers, passed down since our forefathers, allows more focus on God and less concentration on us. They help zero in on the greatness of God, rather than pouring our hearts out in hopes that God will come through for us…in hopes that God will meet our needs.

Ironically, in my times of seeking God, I was reminded that my needs were already met. God has and will provide for our needs, even before we lay them at His feet.  For me, it was discerning whether my requests were actually needs and not wants. And, nine times out of ten, they were mere wants. Now, don’t get me wrong, God can give us our heart’s desires, but when we truly seek Him first, our desires actually become more godly.

Jesus once said that who, if his son asked for bread, would give him a rock. There are two parts for that. The son asking truly desires for his needs to be met. He’s not asking his dad for a random consumer-driven product. He’s asking for food. He knows what he needs to survive. Then there’s the dad. He knows that his son is hungry, so he’ll oblige. He’s not going to give his son some random item. The dad is going to provide. Similarly, when my youngest boy reaches his hand towards me, I know he truly needs something. Whether it be a comforting touch or milk to satisfy his hunger, my boy reaches out to me and I provide.

God’s the same way.

Then, I also realized that my prayers started to become more like dramatic monologues than actual conversations with Him. I would splatter my requests into His ears and, before I’d give Him time to answer, I was already at the “in Jesus’ name” part, leaving our “conversation” altogether.

See, God is always listening. Unfortunately, the same isn’t always true for us.

What about you? How is your prayer life? And what are your thoughts on Shane’s article?

Let’s talk.

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3 thoughts on “Prayers That Begin By Listening

  1. Derrick, this is a good one!

    My thought:
    Got Prayer? If not, it’s not too late to start because it’s vital to our daily living in Christ.

    This article and blog reminds me of what we end up doing: self indulge in our prayers and forget what we are doing. At least I can admit that I notice myself doing that and even worse, stop praying at all. That’s until I came out here. God removed me from my comfortable environment of home and sent me away knowing I would do something with my isolation. I’ve been reading the Monday Morning Church again with the mind set of wanting to know what my purpose is. I wanted to know what God wants me to do while I’m here. I wanted to know what I need to do according to His will.

    His Will <– That right there.

    Before, I would always ask God to fulfill my needs (or wants…depending on what it was). I would pray continuously and be patient with the response I get. Sometimes, I even I would pray a “dry prayer.” What I mean is simply asking and telling God what I wanted and that was it.

    After I relocated to the peachy state, I realize I have so much to work that needs to be done. I was worried about my walk with Christ and if I was walking according to His will. God is exposing areas in my life that I am still trying to hold on to and [on the contrary], areas in which I need to work on, simply if I didn’t, I’ll be heading for destruction; my God is changing my heart about my understanding of life and my purpose here; the Holy Spirit is at work in me to pay attention and respond.

    Best of all, it’s starting with the foundation of what we, as followers, are to do.

    Send all prayer and petitions, with thanksgiving, to Christ Jesus.

    Read it, Internalize it, Live it:
    God’s Word

    You can’t go wrong.

    I’ve learned that I don’t need a standardize, formal format to pray. Thanking God for something good that happened is a way of worshipping and praising. Silent prayers for someone you see, in the moment, who seems they need prayer (God prearranged for you and the other person to cross paths, meaning to say it’s not an accident; all you need to do is react as Christ would). A conversation with God is praying and it can consist of sending all glory to Him AND praying for others who came to you for help or those that need it (and you don’t need to know who they are). When we humble ourselves before God and leave ourselves out of the mix, we will then see what the Holy Spirit want’s us to do and wants to do for us.

    Shane’s article:
    “We are not of this world, we just live in it.”
    I like Shane’s article because just as the quote above, as part of the body of Christ, the Holy Spirit is present when 2 or more are gathered. It’s an effective way to pray. All throughout the Bible prophets and apostles alike prayed, elders of the church and followers of Jesus prayed passionately. Who are we, today, to think that we are exempt, or could put it [praying] off? The culture around us tries to strip religion and prayer from the world, yet, it will not stop us from praying and Christians need to remember that. I like it how Shane said:

    “This [Liturgy] practice reminds us we are part of one Body. The incredible unity of liturgical prayer is that it not only joins us with Christians around the world…it also connects us to saints throughout the centuries who’ve prayed the same prayers and sang the same songs as they joined God’s movement for justice and peace.”

    Jesus fulfilled the covenant for all Jews and Gentiles alike to benefit the intimate relationship with God. It’s a beautiful and joyful relationship that can only be strengthen by prayer and obedience.

  2. Hi Derrick,
    Have been thinking of writing a blog entitled “Things I Prayed To God For, And What I Got Instead.” I have no idea what’s really good for me; I always just pray for what I want. And I want my prayers to change from “I want, I need, I think I want and need….” to “You are God.” and variations on that theme. I like the idea of returning to the liturgy for that reason; it seems to me, in my limited experience of liturgical prayer, to be much more about who God is than who or what I am not, what I have not, what I’m afraid of, what I will not tolerate and what I refuse to endure. If I’d got all I’ve ever prayed for and thought was God’s will for my life, I’d probably be even more arrogant and self-satisfied than I am now – an unbearable prospect. Perhaps I need some untraining from my charismatic ways.
    Cheers,
    Jo Hilder

  3. James – Wow! What a mouthful…good stuff. I especially like your focus regarding prayer and being thankful. We definitely need to be more thankful when we go to God…regardless of the outcome or assumed outcome.

    Jo – All too familiar. Our charismatic ways sure do get the best of us sometimes. Charisma is great. Now only if we all could transfer that passion in the way we pray and respond to God’s call, in response to our prayers, without complaining that we didn’t get what we want.

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