A few days earlier in the week, I was praying to the Lord about something I was deeply troubled about. I knew that my own mental energies for this problem were running thin and needed to take it to the Lord. It was one of the most enjoyable, mind-easing prayer sessions I’ve had in a long time. I truly knew that it had been handed over to God – that I had the petitions I’ve asked of Him (see 1 John 5:14-15).
But you see, I’ve taken this very issue to the Lord in the past, and I’ve found some solace, but nothing like I did that morning. I was curious as to what exactly made it better this time around.
Perhaps it was my location. I was on the campus of Oral Roberts University at the time (and currently still am as I write this article from the desk in my dorm room). If you are unfamiliar with the university, ORU boasts a wonderfully odd-looking, space-esque, quiet, lovely, and peaceful prayer tower. It is a two hundred foot tall pinnacle with glass and windows of blue and gold, an “eternally lit” flame, and spikes jutting out all around its circular disk, which sits about three-fifths up its slender structure. If this odd description proves confusing, perhaps you could just “Google it.” Nonetheless, inside this tower is a very charming prayer room, which further contains four smaller prayer closets, each no more than 5x8ft. These quant little rooms are great places to shut oneself in and pray. It was in one of these rooms that I prayed this week when I felt my burden truly taken.
I suspect that this room, lovely as it is, was not the reason for my fruitful prayer time. If it were, I would’ve experienced this “blessed assurance” every time that I prayed in one of those closets, and that is not the case. I’ve prayed there many times in the past and there have been prayer sessions that I felt were rather dry. Thus, it couldn’t be the location alone that made for the great prayer.
Perhaps it was the length of my prayer. However, I am very hesitant to agree with this, for, in all, my prayer time was no more than half an hour in length. Now I am not going to suggest, as some do, that time spent in prayer is irrelevant. Surely time alone is not what makes for fervency in prayer, but we are humans and it often takes dedication in minutes and hours before our minds “catch on” to the Divine and truly experience fulfilling prayer. Like any relationship, one may grow deeper with a friend after an intense and quick conversation with him than a long, yet shallow, conversation with another. But still the truth remains that the more time that is spent with someone, the more the two hearts will converge and grow in harmony. Thus, I will still express my awe and amazement for those who can spend several hours a day in prayer – not because the mere time alone, but because of their dedication and spiritual ability to endure through the ups and downs of prayer as one does with a friend.
Perhaps it was the language of my prayer. Many, even in today’s contemporary church, promote lengthy, archaic, and carefully constructed prayers to sound beautiful to the ear. More traditional churches even have scripted prayers that members are required to memorize and recite with the congregation. It is in my opinion that such prayers often succeed in their attempt to grant a sense of the beautiful to the hearer. So I cannot disvalue the appeal for prayers to be carefully constructed. In addition to simply causing the hearer to get a sense of awe and wonder, word choice helps those who pray to better sit in a more humble, receptive state of mind before God. Words have power and when we use certain words they help to settle our hearts and better understand what we ourselves are asking of our King. All of this aside, the prayer I prayed this week was not beautifully constructed or carefully crafted by any means. Like always, I try to best articulate my prayers, not so that God will understand it, but so that I better understand it. But, as I said, this was time was not anything out of the blue. So it must not have been my word choice even though I value prayerful articulation.
To be honest, in this article I ran through some of the things that one typically associates with great prayers. But in reality I knew all along, even without thinking about it, what made this time of prayer so great. On the very day of my prayer, the Lord put it on my heart – He revealed the secret right there to me. He showed me that what made that prayer great was my attitude in approaching His throne. I came from a place of sincere trust and contentment in God’s ability and willingness to do what is right on behalf of my life. In short, I came with a genuine, trusting faith in God.
Now this may seem like Christianity 101, but to me it was such a fresh reminder of how one ought to approach God. I was quickly reminded of all the scriptural proofs for my newfound revelation: “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him,” (Heb. 11:6) “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus,” (Phil. 4:6-7) and “Commit your works to the Lord, and your thoughts will be established” (Prov. 16:3).
Clearly it would benefit the believer to come before God with a spiritual confidence, one that says, “Lord, here is what troubles me, I give it unto you. I’ve said what I needed, now it’s in your hands. Lead me from this point on.” This is sometimes difficult as we like to talk and talk and talk some more about our problems with an insecurity that God is not listening or perhaps doesn’t want to act. Now, as I’ve previously stated, there is nothing wrong with hours of prayer and much talking on behalf of the believer. But the talking must not stem from fear that God isn’t listening, from that internal pit of hopelessness. Such a feeling is of the enemy and may even be sinful in that it poisons our hearts to be untrusting before God. Each person of prayer will likely have experienced this sense of a need to talk in hopes that God will at some point “get it.” The quicker we put our fears away and genuinely and openly talk to God with a spiritual confidence and trust, the quicker our troubles will slide from our weary shoulders.
Looking back, perhaps I was able to have this attitude in prayer simply because I was tired of the situation. I didn’t and couldn’t continue with the quick, cheesy, half-insincere prayers. I came before God, told him my ailments, and trusted Him with the results. Not only did I leave there with a sense of God being in control, but also received confirmation later on in the conclusion of the situation I had prayed about. I already knew it was in God’s hands, so why did he confirm it in several small ways? Surely for no other reason but love. He wanted to not only let me go in peace, but even settled my heart in the culmination of the situation. Our God is good and we would be all the happier to approach Him being deeply convinced of that reality.