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Jan 18, 2020 08:00am
Prayer is Much More Than You Think it is
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“God is Great

God is Good

Let us thank him for our food.

Amen”

When my brother and I were little, we traded off saying this prayer at suppertime. It didn’t mean much, but I still understood it to be for God to hear and be pleased.

My prayers sound very different now, and they are mostly soundLESS, actually. More often than not, they have felt hollow, demanding and meaningless throughout the decades of my life even though I have vowed to “do it better.”

How to “do” prayer better is the topic of countless books, and there are even more daily devotional books that can help inspire you. But apparently it is the most neglected Christian discipline of them all, and this Christian can relate . . . 

So if prayer is just a conversation with God, why is it so difficult? 

Recently I read the most comprehensive and enlightening explanation of prayer, and it has changed my perspective immensely. In his daily devotional book New Morning Mercies Paul David Tripp explains prayer in list form, making clear that first and foremost prayer is an act of worship, then listing the seven reasons why:

  1. Prayer acknowledges God’s existence. We should assent to his Creator- and Sovereign-ship, and his power, wisdom and rule in our lives.
  2. Prayer bows to God’s glory. We agree that there is a greater glory in the universe than our own, and that our hearts can only be content when we live for his glory.
  3. Prayer submits to God’s plan. Instead of asking him to endorse and resource our own life plans then asking God to sign on the dotted line, we agree that he knows best.
  4. Prayer confesses allegiance to God’s kingdom. The kingdom of self in which we are most comfortable will crumble to the ground and yield to God’s work.
  5. Prayer rests in God’s provision. Panicky, rushed prayers should be replaced by trusting, restful ones to a faithful, nearby Father.
  6. Prayer celebrates God’s grace. True prayer is caused by the grace that gives us the desire to pray and the promise that God will answer it.
  7. Prayer commits to God’s work. Because we live in the “already” and the “not yet” we need wisdom and strength to do God’s work. It is our calling.

I love the verbs in this list: acknowledge, bow, submit, confess, rest, celebrate, and commit. Ironically, they are some of the most difficult actions for all humans! Then he adds more action verbs. At that end of his list, Tripp says we must “lay down our idols and kneel before God in humble and joyful worship.” More hard things . . .

Since it is not mere conversation, prayer requires submission and selflessness. It must acknowledge the gift of grace and the reason for our transformed lives: the gift of Jesus and the salvation of our souls.

The fact that worship is a part of prayer is not a completely foreign concept for the Christian, and neither is the requisite humility, but I needed the reminder to destroy my little kingdom of self and remember who God is and who I am:

Prayer is an act of worship between . . .

The Creator and the created

The Supplier and the supplicant

The Power and the powerless

The Love and the loved

The Comfort and the comforted

The Deliverer and the delivered

The Way and the wayfarer

The Refuge and the rescued

The Sinless and the sinner

The Savior and the saved

The Redeemer and the redeemed

The Father and the child

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