What Is Prayer For?
I was reminded today of something I had forgotten: what prayer is for.
I think we get so caught up in what we think we need, and what we think would be best, that we easily forget what prayer is really for. Or, possibly, I could say who prayer is really for.
Now there is not one answer to the question ‘What is prayer for?’. There are probably a million answers. But I’m talking about those moments where you are almost groaning out loud in frustration. When you are wondering, is it something lacking in me? Is there something more I should be doing? When you are searching for just the right words to move God’s heart.
Recently I have been groaning in prayer, racking my brain and trying to figure out how to move God’s heart.
Silly, silly me. I had forgotten:
My soul glorifies the Lord
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
I move God’s heart. Not because of big fancy words, not because I have been good (or bad). I move His heart, because God loves me. Just like my children can move my heart when they come to me, I am God’s child, and I move his heart.
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! ~1 John 3:1
And while prayer is for praising God, for presenting our petitions to the Lord, for others, for ourselves- the one thing I forgot was that when I pray, something in my heart changes. I was so focused on trying to move God’s heart, I forgot that my heart is healed when I am connected to God. It’s as if the simple act of choosing to pray, turns my gaze- or even my entire being- towards God. And if I am looking at God, I am not focused on me. I am not distracted by the bad around me- instead my attention is being consumed by Him.
I’ve done it a hundred times. Ever have a situation that is so upsetting or frustrating, and then start to pray about it… and even before the situation is resolved, something in your heart begins to change? Suddenly you have more grace for those involved, suddenly you have compassion and can start to understand where the other person is coming from. When I pray, more often than not, the first thing to change is me.
Prayer is for me.
Prayer is for a million things, but first and foremost prayer is for me.
And it’s for you.
Even when walking through some of the most difficult and heart breaking situations in life- prayer is for you. When things are going well- prayer is for you. When you are heartbroken and alone- prayer is for you. When all is well- prayer is for you. When you aren’t sure you can even face the next day- prayer is for you.
If it’s a day that ends with the letter y, then prayer is for you.
I have a saying. Well, I have a few. But I have one that I say so often, my daughter picked this Coke out for me:
And when I’ve walked through some of the harder times in life, I feel like this could be my motto for prayer. Because at some point I’ve used up all my resources, worked at the problem from every angle, reached the end of my rope and come up empty handed. I’ve felt defeated, and I’ve admitted that I was facing the impossible. In those moments, what should I pray for? It might be a little late by then, but it’s as good a time as any to pray for the impossible. Because when He comes through for you, then you’ll know that He is mindful of you. And if things don’t turn out how you imagined, your eyes might be opened to what He has been doing through it all. And there is something about praying those big impossible prayers, about casting all your hopes and fears on Him who set the world spinning around the sun, about knowing that you cannot do a thing, so you are going to have to rely on Him. As soon as I turn my gaze towards Him, already my heart is changing, already He is answering my cry.
God is faithful in prayer. He is faithful to you.
And prayer is for you.
Lord, thank you that you are faithful to us. That you are mindful to us. I ask for boldness in prayer, and discernment to see what you are doing around us and in us. Help us not to give up on prayer, help us to tune out the voices that bring fear, anxiety, and anger. Instead fill our hearts with your peace, love, and understanding. And thank you for creating prayer, for making prayer multifaceted and multipurposed. You are good, amazing, and so very brilliant. Thank you, Lord! Amen