A Christian Prayer Guide for the Desperate but Hopeful
I am praying for you today. Really, each day I pray for those who will read these articles. I pray that God will encourage you and make His plan evident to you as you walk through it. I know some will read this today that may be struggling through some of the toughest seasons of your life. Others may be encouraging a friend through such a time. I am writing this to inspire you to begin to pray (or persevere in praying) through these moments. A vibrant connection to God changes everything. Even in the most desperate of places, God's presence can refresh your soul.
"When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men."
- Matthew 6:5a
God knows us better than anyone can know us. He knows us even better than we know ourselves. It is important when we reach out to God in prayer, that we are honest. We can be hypocritical in our prayers both internally and externally. I believe we are all very familiar with what it looks like to be externally hypocritical. It is natural for us to want to present ourselves in the best possible light. It is a wholly different thing to pretend to be something that we are not. When you pray, don't be concerned with anyone else's opinion. The main objective is to connect with God, not to impress a specific person. You don't need to worry what anyone else thinks about you.
Internal hypocrisy is more difficult to diagnose. We must go beyond being honest with other people and be honest with ourselves as well. Prayer is like an open door to your life. When you invite God in, He spends time with you. You can't hide things in the closet, He knows everything about you. The most amazing thing is that He knows every dark secret we have and He loves us anyway. Approach God honestly. If you are struggling with something, talk to Him about it. Especially in your most desperate hours, tell God what is on your heart.
"Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart."
- Luke 18:1
Once we have started the conversation, we need to continue and persevere in prayer. It is easy to lose heart when we don't see immediate results. There are times when God chooses to answer a single prayer and you see His direct intervention. Other times, we must see it through, consistently interacting with God through our time in prayer. Sometimes God changes us instead of the situation.
Prayer at its heart is relational. A consistent, persistent approach needs to be taken when engaging God. The good news is that God invites us into just such a relationship. He wants us to bring our lives, good and bad, to Him. Nothing is too important. Nothing is too trivial. He desires to be involved and has chosen the conduit of prayer as the expression of our faith in Him.
"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God."
- Philippians 4:6
This one is the hardest for me. Paul in Philippians tells us to drop our worry and anxiety and turn to God in prayer. It is so hard for us to let go and trust. Worry tends to consume us and bring all of its negative baggage with it. When we pray, we need to have faith that God will accomplish His will and that everything He does is good.
Normally, you would say thanks after something was done on your behalf. Paul tells us that thanksgiving should be part of our request. We thank Him on the front end because we know He is faithful. We can bring our request while simultaneously thanking Him for the answer. Our confidence comes from the knowledge of the character of God. He is a great God and His deeds are great.
What is the thing you struggle with most?
Our hope stems from the finished work of Christ. Trouble by nature is temporary. You will get through your darkest times. Allow God to make His presence known in your life. Speak to Him honestly, consistently and confidently and then let Him speak to you through His word, the bible.