To Truly Pray
by Anna Wood
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What makes prayer effective?
Is it beautiful words? Setting a mood?
Is it a detailed prayer list? Aloneness?
Perhaps it is gathering with like-minded brethren?
Is it fasting? Self-denial?
Those things are, in fact, side issues. Effective prayer comes when one knows God well, aligns his will with Godís and then puts himself at Godís disposal.
God delights in the heart that seeks Him, not only above all else, but, instead of all else.
We frequently say that God is first in our lives (but we seldom really mean it). But is that the right order? Is God really supposed to be first among many? No, Heís not.
God is supposed to be the Only.
If God is the Only One in our lives, then everything else will fall into place. For Him to truly be Only means that we know God intimately, trust Him without reserve and have put our lives at His disposal. He never turns His back on such devotion.
If He is Only, everything else makes sense. If He is Only, we will know how to pray.
God loves bold prayers and responds to bold faith. When He is Only, there is nothing to risk by praying and living boldly for we are His to do with as He pleases. Having given up everything else, we wonít then worry if the answer to bold praying might cost us something. We know it will.
Deep praying costs us something. It cost Jesus everything to enable us to pray. We had better believe that prayer will cost us something, too. Time, tears and comfort are but some of the things real prayer costs. More importantly, it cost us ourselves.
God doesnít want our leftovers. God isnít interested in being second among manyĖor even first. If He is first, that means that there might be some areas of our lives and our hearts that we have not yet given to Him (and may never be ready to). When He is first, we are saying that He gets this much of our affection, time and effortsÖbut the second, third and twenty-fifth places get some, too.
When God is Only, everything is about Him. Our devotion to our husbands and our children will be stronger for releasing them into Godís hands. Our devotion to our churches will be greater when we arenít so busy doing for God that we forget to be with God. When God is Only in our lives, we can love our husbands and our children and be absolutely sure that we are doing so in a way that is pleasing to the Lord. If they are second and third (after the Lord, of course, Who is absolutely first), we might be tempted to hold them as an idol in our lives.
What would you do if God called your young adult child to serve Him in a war and poverty ravaged area of the world where disease was rampant and persecution of believers prevalent? Would you pray with them, help them pack and send them off knowing that you might never see them again? Or, would you try to talk them out of going? Would you seek to convince them that they had their whole lives before them and it would be a shame to waste them? Would you tell them that surely God had someone else who could go (someone who it wouldnít matter to you personally if they died?). If God is first, your husband second and your child third in your affections (the order Iíve been told is the correct one), you just might respond in this way. After all, as mom, you want to protect them. Itís natural. You also want to protect you. Think of all of the Christmases, birthdays and other holidays that would never be the same if they were gone. If, however, God is Only, you will seek only His will. If He called your child to such an area, you would pray for them, commit them to Him and send them off, glorying in the goodness of the Lord in using such a family as yours to serve Him. You would trust Him to do what was right with your childĖwhether they lived to ever come home or not.
Being able to release your family to God is no easy thing. Releasing yourself isnít, either. It is natural for us to want to hold onto our lives, our families and some degree of security and comfort. That is not Godís way, however. To truly pray is to know that.
Deep searching prayer leads us to know Godís ways. Aligning our wills with His causes us to know that He has to be our Only thing for, in the end, He truly is the only thing that matters.
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