Have you ever heard a child pray in that kind of singsong way of reciting something that they’ve memorized? They know the words but there isn’t a lot of understanding or meaning behind them yet. If you want a great example of this, ask a kid to say grace before a meal when they’re really hungry. Man, you’ve never heard someone pray so fast in your life! The words run together and you sense their urgency to say grace fast and get to the food!
Sometimes though, we hear the completely innocent, conversational prayer of a kid just sharing their heart with God. These are my favorite! They are usually free-flowing and can go on for indefinite periods of time, spanning everything from what happened that day to praying about grandma and the family pet, asking God’s help to find a lost toy, you name it, it’s in the mix. This kind of prayer is heartfelt and completely unaffected by pretense.
I want to suggest that for many of us, our tendency is to pray like that hungry kid, anxious to get the prayer out of the way and get on with things. Perhaps we’re in a hurry, not really comfortable with prayer or simply not “feeling it.” Before you know it, our prayers take on a stale, rote quality and we fall into patterns, saying the same things again and again.
For some adults, praying is much more affected by who we’re praying with instead of who we’re praying to. Most of the time, our subconscious focus is on the words we’re saying. We’re thinking about other people in the room and what they might think about what we’re saying or for some of us, we’re just operating on “auto pilot.” In either case, the connection that our prayers give us to God is completely missed.
In the early church the focus was not on what was said but on who they were speaking to. The emphasis was on GOD, and their prayers were unto God.
How would your prayers change if you began by recognizing that you are entering into the very presence of the Almighty God?
Try this: the next time you pray, before you utter a single syllable, take a few moments and just think about who God REALLY IS. Almighty God, all-powerful, Creator of heaven and earth and Lamb of God. Doing this will transform your prayer life. When you consciously become aware of and focus on WHO you’re speaking to, all of a sudden the size of your problems and your emotional struggles shrink because it’s like bringing pennies to a multi-billionaire. Can he change your problems? You’d better believe it!
Now I don’t know about you, but sometimes I just have a hard time “getting there” with God. I know I need to pray, but to be honest, I’m just not feeling it. Have you ever experienced that?
There’s an old phrase called “breaking through” or “praying through” that means pushing past that point. The truth is that most of us quit praying before we break through. Sometimes it can take me 10 – 15 minutes (or more) to break through. Once you DO, though, heaven opens up and the spirit of God ushers you in! God wants to do this in your prayer life on a daily basis. If we never “get there” with God, the rest of these things don’t matter much, do they?
Over the next few weeks we’ll begin a series called “The Power of Prayer” that explores how to infuse practical, Biblical principles into your prayer in truly transformational ways. We’ll examine the Biblical framework for prayer, including the role that the Holy Spirit plays in helping us “pray though” and really meet God.
What areas of your life do you long for an “extreme makeover?” Maybe it’s your relationships, your finances, or something you’d like to change about yourself. Transformation may feel so far beyond your reach that the situation seems downright impossible.
Here’s the thing: God wants to move in on that impossible situation. Learn how to “pray through” and pray unto Him, and you’ll tap into a genuine connection with your Heavenly Father unlike anything you’ve experienced. Are you ready to breakthrough?
Founder & Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge
Chip Ingram is the CEO and teaching pastor of Living on the Edge, an international teaching and discipleship ministry. A pastor for over thirty years, Chip has a unique ability to communicate truth and challenge people to live out their faith. He is the author of many books, including The Real God, Culture Shock and The Real Heaven. Chip and his wife, Theresa, have four grown children and twelve grandchildren and live in California.More Articles by Chip