Blog 365 · Whispers of Faith

5 Ways to a More Captivating Prayer Life {Part 2 of 5}

Continued from yesterday … if you didn’t get a chance to read yesterday’s post, you can click on it over in the side bar.

II. Changing Our Attitudes and Motivations
Yesterday, I wrote about how the first step to a more captivating prayer life is choosing the discipline of prayer. If we want to grow in any area, we must discipline ourselves to actually get better – instead of just “hoping” that it will happen.

Once we start disciplining ourselves to specific and regular prayer times, though – what comes next? Do we continue on with simply repeating the same requests over and over again for the same people and needs in our lives? Or is there something that needs to change in our approach to prayer?

In a lovely little book by John MacArthur called Lord, Teach Me to Pray, he says this:

“The passions of the heart will come out in prayers. If we examine what we pray for and find we are praying only for our own needs, problems, questions, and struggles, that is an indication of where our heart is … If we pray infrequently, briefly, and in a shallow manner, we need to do a spiritual inventory to see if the problem is a cold heart.”

Now, clearly we should pray about our struggles and needs – that is a command in Scripture. However, we need to ask ourselves, “Is that all I ever pray about? Do my prayers center around my day, my problems, my desires, etc.?”

At the beginning of the year, I became convicted that my prayers had become very me-centered – and that not only was I spending most of my time praying about my struggles and needs, sometimes I wasn’t really even praying. I’d tack on a “Dear God” to the beginning, but then I’d start ruminating on my problems and trying to figure them out on my own instead of genuinely submitting them to the Lord and actively praying for God’s wisdom and guidance.

Jesus sets the perfect example of how all of our prayers should start – and where our ultimate attitude toward prayer should be – “Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

Our ultimate motivation in prayer should not be about feeling better about ourselves, but it should be to knit our hearts to our Father – by richly putting Him on display.

Arthur Pink said this about prayer in his book The Sovereignty of God:

“Prayer, real prayer, is a coming into the Presence of God, and a sense of His awful majesty produces a realization of our nothingness and unworthiness.”

Just try it – spend at least two or three minutes extoling the greatness of the God who cannot be contained, and you will not feel the need to complain to God about your problems. They instantly become reduced in size when compared to the God who has no problems whatsoever.

This takes some time getting used to. As needy human beings who are surrounded by sin, we’re naturally thinking about ourselves all the time. Yet when we feel that urge to feed our selfish flesh, and we re-direct our attention and focus to our Creator, He begins to change our hearts.

Every time we come to a need or a struggle and we put our eyes on that need or struggle – forming our prayers like, “God, please help me to conquer this sin” or “God, just give me the strength to get through the day,” we are not going to the root of what will ultimately conquer in our hearts.

Instead, we need to form our prayers so that they focus on the One stronger than our struggles and our needs – “God, thank you that you have canceled sin on the cross. Thank you that Your Word says that I will not be tempted beyond what I am able to bear. You are mighty to save and I believe that you will demonstrate that in my life today.”

That right there is re-shaping our attitudes and our motivations to pray. We are needy people – we need constant reliance on God. But that reliance truly comes when we start dwelling on who God is – instead of dwelling on our own insufficiencies (pretty sure God already knows how insufficient we are!).

If you stubbornly keep trying to cling to your selfish methods of prayer – thinking that you need to focus more on yourself than on God – you will never grow as God intended you to. Prayer is an opportunity for us to publicly and privately magnify our Creator – and when we do, our hearts are radically changed in ways we never expected.

Need some ideas for how to magnify your Creator in your prayers? Read on tomorrow for “Cherishing the One to Whom We Pray” and an easy-to-remember method for doing just that!

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