I have been listening to sermons online, lately. I heard one on Monday by Francis Chan about the power of prayer, and the ability of prayer to become a lifestyle– a way of walking in love with God. He questioned the audience: do you actually believe your prayers will be answered? Surprisingly, when I asked myself this question, the answer was a slightly embarrassed “no”.
I began to evaluate my prayer life, and found three things that I’ve started incorporating into my daily conversations with God. These three simple practices have made an immense difference in my prayer life in just one week, and I hope that they guide you also to find a deeper, more intimate walk with Christ.
Focus on other people, not just you.
God calls us to intercede on behalf of our friends, our family, and even our enemies. When we lose sight of the importance of praying for those around us, we lose sight of what prayer is really for. We are called to deeply care about everyone we come in contact with, speaking to God on their behalf because we love them too dearly not to.
Self centered prayers are easy to fall into, I know. But, when we start praying for our friends, our small groups, even the people who drive us crazy, we are invited into a truly unique part of Christianity; a genuine joy that pours out in prayer. I have started praying for my small group girls each night, my family, my friends, even big world problems, and am suddenly feeling so much more connected to the body of Christ and to my Savior.
Stop praying the grocery list, and start speaking with God.
I often get caught in the “Do this for me… Help me… I’m anxious so fix this… Give me that…” prayer without even realizing it. I realizing I’m asking for a bunch of things (relationships, grades, conquered fears), but not praising God, not speaking with Him. Prayer is meant to be an intimate discussion, an intricate knot of telling God your innermost thoughts and waiting for His answer with patience.
When we get caught in grocery list prayers, God isn’t praised and we aren’t fulfilled & nourished spiritually. When we speak with God intimately, the relationship between us grows significantly and we are invited into something beautiful and unique to Christianity: our God listens and cares deeply about everything; from the big moments to little details.
Believe your prayers will be answered (even if the answer is no).
After listening to Francis Chan speak about real belief, I started trying to pray purposefully. I began to pray as if God was listening (because He is) and planning to answer each prayer, each question, each broken sentence and each joyful thank-you. I am realizing that belief tends to yield a more powerful prayer and strengthen my faith immensely.
I am learning that God desperately wants us to know He is listening and He is answering each prayer, even if the answer isn’t what we think it is. I have found that the most beautiful answered prayers in my own life are not ones I could’ve planned, but ones only God could have orchestrated. Trust Him, and believe He will answer you.
Pray for your friends, your family, and the people in your life. Remember to seek God in every aspect of your life, and your ministry will flourish.
Callie Hyde is an honors student at Baylor University. She writes for a blog called Sincerely, Callie (www.sincerelycallie.com) and is part of Baylor Spiritual Life’s Freshman Retreat, a small group leader at Highland Baptist Church, a Green’s Scholar, and co-creator of Open Book, a group for Baylor freshmen that encourages fellowship and faith with other Christians seeking mentorship and friendship.