But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
Jesus taught His disciples that men (and, of course, women) ought to always pray and never give up (Luke 18:1). There is no doubt we are commanded to pray, to not give up praying, and to pray in the Spirit on all occasions (Eph. 6:18). But prayer can quickly turn into a ritual and not be about a relationship with God the Father. Growing up, I have seen a few prayers where the blessing is given before meals, but they seemed to say the same thing over and over again. I do not mean to judge them, and if I am, please forgive me, but it’s a little like repeating the Lord’s Prayer and not putting our hearts into it. I have been just as guilty, but how can we stop prayer from being or becoming a routine or ritual instead of the preferred conversation with God, which it should be?
What do I mean by praying intentionally? I mean that you have a prayer list and pray for specific things or people. A prayer journal is a great way to put names and requests of those people and things, for which you pray. Write down the date, the person’s name, and/or what it is you’re praying for. Go back in your prayer journal at times to see just how faithful God has been or how His answer is even better than what you asked for. I love the acronym ACTS for praying: Adoration (of God, praise Him for His greatness, His power and His glory), Confession of your sins and to be forgiven (1 John 1:9), Thanksgiving for all He has done for you already, and Supplication or praying finally for others, God’s will, Jesus to be glorified, and for your own needs last.
Relationship Over Ritual
I know how easy it is to be locked into routines or rituals. We get so used to doing things that they become automatic or unfeeling. I get into the habits or routines of doing things that I don’t even think about them, and there is a risk of me doing this when I pray. Imagine in your mind that you are approaching the throne of grace in heaven. Jesus, of course, is our Mediator. We can talk with God as a friend talks to another. It should be in reverence, yes, but we can openly talk to God as if we were talking to our friend. Unload all your cares and concerns. Tell Him what you’re thinking and feeling. Ask for His help in even knowing how to pray because the Spirit can help us do that (Rom. 8:26). Honestly, sometimes I don’t even know what to pray for or how to put it into words and can’t always find the right words to say, but God’s Spirit can help (Rom. 8:27).
A Closing Prayer
Father God, as I pray, please send me Your Spirit to help me know how to pray and what to pray for when I can’t find the words. Even in this request I pray in the Mighty Name of our Great Mediator, Jesus Christ.
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