Is Your Prayer Life Lacking?
Have you ever read through the Psalms and thought “Wow, David’s prayer life doesn’t look anything like mine?” There’s so much passion in David’s words as He calls out to God. Just look at the first verse of Psalm 63:
"O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.”
David’s use of imagery in his prayer life is far more beautiful than my own prayers. We also see many occasions where David is thrown into a physical motion because of his passion for God. We see him bowing down, dancing, and even tearing his garments while crying during prayer. And then there’s us - Sitting in our chairs with no tears in our eyes. Is there something wrong with the way we pray?
For some, comparing David’s prayer life with their own, they might be lead to believe that their prayer life is seriously lacking. While this could be true, one must first examine what prayer is before making such a hurried conclusion. Wayne Grudem states, Prayer is “personal communication with God, corporate or individual.” Another way of saying it is that prayer is simply talking with God. So how should we talk to God? The obvious response to this question is the Lord’s prayer in Matthew 6:9-13, but Jesus also gives some aspects of our prayer life in verses 5-8 that are key to having a passionate prayer life.
"“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him."
Let’s look at some key factors to what Jesus is saying here.
Jesus talks about the fake spirituality of those who would cry out to God in public. They did this so others would look at their “piety” and be impressed. For a long time I did this as a child. I would get down on my knees to pray, not because I was worshiping God, but because I liked the fact that I was different and looked more spiritual than my peers. Eventually the Lord got a hold of me and caused me to understand that I was wrong. Jesus is telling his disciples to be real with God, He says even go pray in your closet if it helps you focus on Him rather than what others are thinking.
Jesus says to pray in your closet, this is both to get away from being tempted to pray like the hypocritical Pharisees in the synogogue, but also it shows that prayer should be intimate. It’s a closed conversation between you and God. This does not mean that we should not gather with other believers in prayer, but that we should make plenty of time to have intimate moments with God. Just you and him, no distractions. And even when we get into corporate prayer, we should be focused on God not on others.
Imagine being at a concert with a group of friends. You are all focusing on the music and the musicians. What if one of your friends was on their phone dying the concert? What would you think of their love for the music? You would conclude they didn’t care about the music and you would be right. Corporate prayer is like that. All of you focusing on God, not anything else, it’s intimate but also inclusive.
Jesus says that the hypocrites were praying with empty phrases which is meaningless and repetitious non-sense. You know you’ve heard it, right? The guy who says the same four sentence opening about the magnificence of God every time he prays. Or what about the guy who says a name for God every fourth word? I know I struggle in this area. “God-Jehovah help us to rely on you God-Jehovah.” Are these real or empty phrases?
Could be either one, depending on the prayer’s heart. You see, that’s what it really comes down to - the heart. Jesus wants us to pray honestly. To use our words to communicate real burdens on our heart. Just like your spouse or friend would want you to really talk about what you are feeling, God wants us to do the same. He wants us to pray honestly.
And remember Passionate prayer Can look differently in different people.
If we keep these three factors alive in our prayer life than it will impact us and even change our prayers. If that means we change to praying on our knees or perhaps getting emotional like David than so be it. And if that means we continue to sit in our chairs, no tears in our eyes, but pray in a real, intimate, and honest way that is just as holy, reverent, and passionate as David's prayers. God created us with different personalities, some people are Davids and some people are less emotional. The point is that God knows us. We cannot fake sincerity with God. He sees right through that. So be honest in your prayer life and that will lead to having passionate prayers.
Grudem, Wayne A. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity, 1994. Print. p. 376.