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How I’m Learning to Pray Better

by | Jun 28, 2018 | Articles, Church, Faith and Work, Resources

Nothing solidifies your belief in prayer like being way over your head.

That’s where I’ve found myself the past few years. Way over my head. With my family. With my health. With my work. And so most mornings, it doesn’t take much prodding to get me pacing the floor in the basement of our office, turning my worries into prayers, my frustrations into petitions, and my anxiety into intercession.

One morning recently, I audibly heard myself ask God for an interesting assist. (This is just one reason I recommend finding a place you can pray out loud. When you can actually hear the longings of your heart verbalized, it gives them a whole new perspective).

“Lord, please help me get everyone aligned with what I’m seeing here.”

Pause.

Stop.

Whoa.

What did I just ask?

“No wait. Lord, please bring us all into alignment with what You’re seeing here.”

Prayer is this weird, cosmic, supernatural, transformative thing. We’re naturally inclined to think of prayer as more or less asking God for the things we want. We refer to them as prayer requests, after all. We’re told by the Apostle Paul to present our petitions to God (Phil. 4:6). This is good. This is right. But it’s not the complete story.

I firmly believe that prayer can change things, but I am 100% certain that prayer always changes me.

Prayer is powerful, not so much because it bends God’s will toward mine, but because it shapes my desires into His. It’s humility in action. The act itself is an admission that not only can I not get what I want without God’s help, but that I don’t even know what it is that I really want in the first place. At its core, prayer is treating God as God. It puts me in my place and God in His. Jesus at the center and me at the periphery.

And as this supernatural juxtaposition begins to take place, our prayers become answerable. As Tim Keller says so beautifully, “Prayer MAKES IT SAFE for God to give us the many gifts He has in store for us.”

Lord, make me a safe depository for your good gifts.

The more we pray, the more our desires are shaped by God’s Spirit. The more our desires are shaped by God’s Spirit, the more our requests align with His will. The more our requests align with His will, the more we will see God answer when we call.

Erik Cooper

After starting his career in the business world, Erik spent 12 years in full-time ministry, both on staff at a large suburban church and as a church planter in a downtown urban context. In addition to his role at The Stone Table, he also serves as the Vice President of Community Reinvestment Foundation, a nonprofit real estate company that provides high-quality affordable housing all over Indiana while investing its profits into missions through The Stone Table.

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