Unlearning something about prayer

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Knowing that I’d forget some errand today, I started with a list. This way I simply couldn’t forget. I’m a list maker.

After multiple grocery stores, the library, a recycling station, and a bag dropped off, it was only as I turned the final corner home that I remembered I had forgotten two items on my mental list. Mayo and lemons – they were the two items that had never made it onto my written list.

Mayo and lemons may need to become my prayer reminders.

Just like my errand run, I often approach God with my prayer list. It’s full of names of loved ones with all sorts of circumstances. Some are in need of healing, both physically and emotionally, some have appeared “randomly” on the screen of my mind and so a prayer has been offered on their behalf. Sometimes the prayers move to projects and situations, my church and its leadership, other leaders and those in authority, my nation and the world I live in. None of these things are bad things to pray about. In fact, it would be wrong not to pray about these things.

Honestly, my prayer life is one sided. I’m doing all of the talking and when I finally run out of words, I pronounce the Amen and move on. I often question if God has heard me or not because I am so busy speaking that I can’t possibly hear what He has to say to me. Something else takes centre stage and prayer waits on the side line for me to fill up with words again for another session.

I need to unlearn how I pray.

Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Hebrews 7:25

It blows my mind that Jesus is interceding for me. Before God the Father, Jesus is praying on my behalf. Because Jesus is praying for me, wouldn’t it be a good idea to know what He is praying for? Wouldn’t my prayer life be more effective, less of a running out of words experience, and more of a conversation, if I knew what He was praying for me and the things on my heart? Wouldn’t I feel more like we had both heard each other if my words got quiet and my heart attuned itself to Jesus gentle still voice?

It doesn’t mean that I am stopping my prayers for others – not at all. But rather, instead of racing to the throne room and rattling off a random list of what I think the situation and individual needs, I hope to ask questions of Jesus, truly listen to what He is saying and join Him in His prayers.

Jesus, what are you praying for _____________?

This question is slowly changing my prayer life. What an amazing experience to hear God speak and then to join Jesus in His prayer for that person. There’s a lot less pressure to get the words right. It’s a lot less about guessing what a person needs. Prayer is becoming more of a conversation. Interestingly, prayer is becoming more specific. It’s become less of a list and more like remembering mayo and lemons.


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