|February 5, 2016|
Purposeful prayer is one of the main means by which Christians can position themselves to behold God as they wait on Him. It is informed and strengthened by consistent Bible reading. In purposeful prayer, we are resolving to wait on God while paying careful attention to what we are waiting for and exactly what it means to be waiting on God.
Faith in God sustains us when we don't think we can wait on Him any longer. It shouldn't surprise us that God means to use the purposeful prayers of His people to stir up the kind of faith that sustains.
Pay Careful Attention To What We Are Waiting For
When we take things to God in prayer, we are declaring that we are waiting on Him for certain things. It is important to consider the themes that our prayers are taking. Doing this requires some effort. It's sort of like taking an inventory and we should be specific.
Andrew Murray gives some examples of what may be waiting for. Namely, for:
God to take His place as God in our prayers
God to work in us the sense of His holy presence and nearness
a special petition that we expect an answer
God's power in our inner life
the state of His Church and saints
some part of God's work that we are looking to Him to do
He goes on to say that, "it is good that we sometimes count up to ourselves exactly what the things are we are waiting for, and as we say definitely to each of them, 'On Thee do I wait,' we shall be emboldened to claim the answer, 'For on Thee do I wait.'"
Christian, taking specific things to God in prayer and then going over that list is a great way to keep yourself dedicated to this kind of praying. Exactly what are the things that you are waiting for right now?
Pay Careful Attention To What It Means To Be Waiting on God
Paying careful attention to what it means to be waiting on God is the part of keeping our prayer purposeful that helps to ensure that we truly are praying to GOD. I know that's a mouthful, but it is easy to get so caught up in either not praying at all OR in the things that we are praying for that we actually forget about the God to whom we are praying. This will never do.
The very purpose of prayer is to unite us with God in Christ. We take our needs to Him and turn them over to Him. Prayer leads us to trust Him and to KEEP trusting Him. While we pray, we are turning our attention away from everything else in order to direct our gaze to God.
Murray reminds us that we are waiting on "the living God, such as He really is..." In all His:
"It is the presence of God, as He can in Christ by His Holy Spirit make Himself known, and keep the soul under its covering and shadow, that will waken and strengthen the true waiting spirit." Christian, you must guard against the tendency to turn away from God as He presents Himself in Scripture.
You see, purposeful prayer goes hand in hand with consistent Bible reading. You cannot be purposeful in your prayers without being impacted by your time in God's Word. This Word shapes our prayers and our view of God in a way that binds these two means together so that we may truly be waiting on God as we go about the business of beholding Him. What do you know of God and what role does this knowledge play in your praying?
What It Means To "Pray In The Spirit"
Before I close, I would like to go over what it means to "pray in the Spirit". This is where the "purposeful" part comes in. We must not be careless about HOW we pray.
Packer describes "prayer in the Spirit" as, "prayer from the heart, springing from awareness of God, of self, of others, of needs, and of Christ." He goes on to say that, "he (or she) whose heart seeks God through Christ prays in the Spirit." Praying in the Spirit is a means God grants His people to keep themselves in His love and as such, it is a means by which He keeps them in His love.
Just in case you missed it, praying in the Spirit requires a heart that is truly seeking God and His will. Have you been praying in the Spirit?
If you know your heart isn't seeking God, take it straight to Him and ask Him to teach it to. If that seems odd, read over the first few books in the Old Testament (especially Deuteronomy) and watch for the ways that God taught and instructed His people even before He gave them commandments. He is the best Teacher you'll ever have.
The Place of Purposeful Prayer
Though many of us struggle with keeping up with purposeful prayer, it is a true gift of God. If we doubt the power or place of prayer, we ought to look at the life of Christ who modeled it so perfectly. He was always meeting with God. It was something He could not neglect if He was to carry on with the work He came to earth to do.
The very fact that we are looking to and waiting on God will stir up in us natural utterances of prayer, just like it did for Christ. Murray puts it this way, "It is a great thing for a soul not only to wait upon God, but to be filled with such a consciousness that its whole spirit and position is that of a waiting one..."
If we are struggling to carry on or to keep our resolve to behold God, it could be that our lack of purposeful praying is playing a big part in that. May God grant us grace to employ this means by which our souls are kept in His love and may our prayerlessness be one more thing that makes us aware of our need to go to God.
To those of you who are purposeful prayer warriors, may your dedication of this means of grace remind you daily of God's work in your heart! May you remain strong in this area and may it accomplish much in your life as well as in the lives your prayers are touching.
How are you planning to devote yourself to purposeful prayer in 2016?
Where are you when it comes to this area of the Christian life?
Packer quotes taken from p. 79-80 of "Keep In Step With the Spirit".
Murray quotes taken from chapter 7 of "Waiting on God".
If you would like more on the topic of prayer here's a very helpful sermon.