(By Theanna Joyce)
Have you ever fallen asleep during a prayer meeting? Mumbled an amen though you didn’t quite catch the prayer; your mind was half asleep or busy planning tomorrow’s to-do list?
I’ll be the first to admit that this is me sometimes. And it frustrates me! Why can’t I be alert enough, dedicated enough, passionate enough to pray to God as I’d like to? I want to pray and be excited about prayer, but find myself falling short.
While studying prayer, I’ve learned a good principle that I’m trying to apply in my own life: we need to base our prayer in worship.
This seems simple. Fundamental. What Christian wouldn’t agree? And yet our own prayer lives belie the fact that we struggle to pray on a foundation of worship. I challenge you to try to pray for 10 minutes without asking God for anything. I tried — and lasted about 2.5 minutes before I caught myself in a request and had to refocus my mind.
I’m not saying that asking for things or help is wrong — Jesus Himself models it in His prayer in Matthew 6 by asking for daily bread, forgiveness, and help to overcome evil. Laying our requests at His feet is important, but it cannot be our only expression of prayer. When we make it the only expression — or foundation — of our prayer, we quickly become disheartened because we are focusing on our needs and forgetting the Sovereign God; our minds and hearts begin to doubt that he’s there, that He hears us, that He’ll ever answer.
However, when we ground ourselves in worship, we are uplifted and our prayers come from a place of honest trust.
We were made to worship and He is altogether worthy. This principle of founding our prayer in worship is not something that I’ve mastered, but I’m working at spending more time in worship when I pray because this is where our hearts are changed.
If we make worship the foundation of our prayers, then we won’t get stuck in empty words or bland repetition that lead us to sleep rather than burst with love and appreciation for our God. I challenge you this week (and myself as well) to set aside time just to worship, and to let worship permeate all of your dialogue with God.
"May my prayer be set before you as incense, the raising of my hands as the evening offering" (Psalm 141:2).