“If only you would prepare your heart and lift up your hands to Him in prayer.” ~Job 11:13
I receive daily prayer texts on my phone every morning. This particular morning, I read through the prayer quickly, and walked off to do something else when the Holy Spirit gently posed a question to me. “Did you read that prayer, or did you pray that prayer?” My heart was immediately convicted because I had, in fact, read the prayer. The words that fell from my lips were not connected to my heart. I was not praying. I was reading. Therein lies the difference and the reason the Holy Spirit convicted me.
I responded to the Holy Spirit’s gentle chastisement by first asking for forgiveness. Then, with a repentant and attentive heart, I opened the text and prayed the prayer, which someone had taken the time to lovingly share with me. This humbling experience reminded me of a few things, which I’d like to share with you.
- Prayer is a holy, holy act of communion between us and God. Prayer is a privilege , which should not be taken for granted. It is because of Jesus’ sacrifice at the cross that we can go boldly to the throne of grace. So our hearts must approach prayer with the respect and reverence it deserves. When we pray we are in God’s Holy Presence, communing with the Holy Of Holies, and we must never forget it.
- God pays attention to our hearts when we pray and so should we. The brevity of the prayer didn’t matter to God, but my unattentive heart did. Before we pray, we must check the posture of our hearts. Prayer begins in the heart, and God is a heart reader. God listens to our hearts when we pray.
- Nothing is insignificant to God – That prayer was really short, and was one of many prayers I probably prayed that day. It really shouldn’t have been such a big deal, right? Wrong. Everything, and I mean everything, matters to God.
- God wants us to understand the power of prayer: Prayer is an act of power, not passivity. As Jesus modeled for us, prayer is essential to fighting the good fight of faith and to fulfill God’s will and purpose for our lives. God knows what we are up against. He knows we will need the power of prayer to triumph over the enemy. You see, prayer is a holy weapon. But if we wield this weapon carelessly, we unknowingly give an advantage to the enemy instead of using prayer to push back against the enemy’s schemes.
- God wants us to take full advantage of the gifts of prayer – Prayer reveals, revives and relieves our hearts. However, we cannot experience the fullness of God’s comfort and care when we fail to approach prayer with our hearts surrendered and willing to receive what God stands ready to provide.
Prayer is sacred, but I didn’t treat it as sacred that particular day and probably many other days I don’t remember. But this is what I know for sure. God didn’t correct me that day so I’d hang my head in shame or pray nervously, afraid that I’m not getting it right. That wasn’t the point of His loving correction. You see, God knows what lies before us. He knows that we need prayer to stay connected to Him. He knows how much it will cost us if we don’t.
Maybe, you too have prayed quickly with a mouth full of beautiful words but a disconnected heart. If so, be encouraged. God loves us too much to not to gently push us in the right direction when we stray. He is the Good Shepherd after all. But, most importantly, may my humbling experience remind us that the privilege of prayer came with great sacrifice. A sacrifice which allows us to have a personal relationship with the Ancient of Days. When God sees us not respecting the holiness of prayer or praying with unsurrendered, unattentive hearts, I can imagine Him asking us one question. Do you know how much it cost? May we be forever mindful of the cost. May we honor Jesus by praying unceasing, powerful prayers with grateful hearts, fully surrended to our magnificent God.
Father, we honor you. We praise your holy name. We thank you for the gift of prayer. Forgive us for those times we prayed with our lips and not our hearts. With the help of the Holy Spirit, may we be forever mindful that prayer is a sacred, powerful and divine gift you gave because you love us so, so much. Help us to remember that you do not desire perfect prayers. It doesn’t matter how long, short, simple or elaborate our prayer may be. What matters most to you is the posture of our hearts. May our hearts stand at attention in your Holy Presence, open, willing and ready to receive from you. We ask all of these things in the name of your beloved Son, Jesus. Amen.