Suggestion number two is harder for me than the previous one. Digging in the Word is never boring. There’s always something unexpected waiting. The more you know, the more you want to know. But my words to Him, on the other hand, are not inspired. They are not perfect. They are often more of what I need to say–confession, regret, pleadings for mercy–than what I want to say. Maybe that’s just it, though. We need to say what he already knows but wants to hear us say. That, of course, includes our praise as well as our pleas.
If you are expecting a child, you need to be praying Manoah’s plea from Judges 13:8.
“…teach us what we shall do unto the child that shall be born.”
If you are presented with a seemingly insurmountable challenge in life—a spiritual responsibility that makes you weak in the knees or an opportunity to glorify Him that takes your breath away—pray the words of Mary in Luke 1:38:
“…Behold the handmaid of the Lord…”
When you are sorely disappointed by circumstances beyond your control, pray from Romans 8:28:
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”
Ask him to help you to wait in faith for the good that will ultimately come from even this sorrow or pain as it is woven together with the other “things” in your life. Ask Him to help you cling steadfastly to the “calling”.
Another prayer that takes a lot of spiritual stamina to take to God has its roots in Matthew 16:26:
“For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”
If you thank Him for whatever part of the “whole world” he has laid at your feet (and for most of us, it’s plenty to live on and lots more), and then you add this: “But Lord, if I ever let these material blessings get in my way of serving you, then just take them on away from me,” —then you are beginning to grasp the insignificance of the physical blessings in comparison to the spiritual. You will find it increasingly difficult to allow ballgames, homework and travel to get in the way of worship. (After all, He gave you those children with healthy bodies and sharp minds and He gave you the money, health and means to travel. You’ve prayed that he will remove these blessings if they are spiritual obstacles.) You will find it increasingly difficult to take jobs or promotions that will be at the expense of valuable spiritual time with your family. You will have a hard time agreeing to spend your resources on that concert or book or movie that will put your mind in a place of moral compromise. In short, you have prayed a prayer that finds its answer in places of greater spiritual strength. Maybe the best part is that, when you are reaching new spiritual heights, your children are watching and learning exactly what (and Whom) it is that matters most to you. You are making a direct imprint on little hearts; an impression that may affect not just one generation, but multiple ones.
Perhaps most importantly and most universally we should be praying James 1:5. Just don’t do mornings without it!
“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”
Do you have crying babies that can’t always let you know what they are needing? Then you need wisdom. Do you have toddlers that are presenting behavioral challenges and yet you are not sure whether they are rebelling or misunderstanding the instruction? Then you need wisdom. Do you have children who are hearing little tidbits about sex at school or in peer groups, but you really don’t know how much is too much to share with them about this subject just yet? Then you need wisdom. Do you have pre-teens who are suddenly becoming uncomfortable in their own skin—kind of stuck in the awkward years between cuddly and cool? Then you need wisdom. Do you have teens who are being exposed to—even experimenting with– sin? Then you need wisdom? Or do you have teens who are trying hard to do the right thing among peers who are mocking—even persecuting? Then you need wisdom. Do you have parents or grandparents who are aging and needing more and more of your time? Then you need wisdom.
So, listen to this old woman. Don’t do mornings without the James 1:5 prayer. It’s a present from God all wrapped up and waiting for you. It’s for those who lack wisdom—you and me. (“If any of you lack wisdom…”) It’s accessibility is for those who ask. (“…let him ask…”) The source of this wisdom is not Dr. Phil or Oprah or even your preacher or elders. It’s God. (“…of God…”) The Giver is not stingy or selfish. (“…who gives to all men liberally…”) He does not make fun of you because you are in need of wisdom or because you do not already know what He knows. (“…and upbraids not…”) This is not a “maybe” promise. It is a happening thing. (“…and it shall be given him.”) How can you get your soul’s permission to do mornings without praying James 1:5, especially if the nurturing decisions of your day may well be influenced by getting your heart into that prayer?
In the last post, we emphasized the importance of getting into the Word. It’s true. You rob yourself of the best kind of riches during any part of your life in which you fail to study. But do you want to multiply the dividends of your study investment? Then pray the scriptures as you study them. But beware….You will be in the Word more so you can pray more deeply and you will pray that you can be in the Word more deeply!