In part one of this series, "God-centered Prayer", you saw a glimpse of my chaotic dinner table. The reason we make the effort it eat together is we've seen how it's improved family relationships.
But in my last post I forgot to draw the connection to prayer. . .
The reason I pause, bow my head and speak to my Lord, is the same as why we gather around a table: improved relationship.
God first loved me. And I show my love by desiring to connect with Him through prayer. So choosing to pray, before uttering a word, is God-centered.
Now on to part two of this series, based of another reader's question: "Is it selfish for me to make requests of God? "
Quick answer: No.
To dig deeper here are a few thoughts. . .
1. Ask confidently, within His will.
"And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us." 1 John 5:14
I believe God has a plan. Because He is outside of time and space, I believe He sees the whole plan all at once. He sees the beginning and end of my life at the same time. But He has also given me the opportunity to make choices within my life.
So I can pray confidently asking for things. But in order to be God-centered, my requests should first go through the filter of His Word and His Spirit (ways He reveals His plan). Asking myself, 'Is this request in line with what I know about God's desires and His character?'
Let me share how this could look in other relationships (disclaimer: I know this example pales in comparison to prayer....but going for it anyway):
Imagine I've coordinated with a friend to meet at the local pool. Then my son walks up to me and confidently asks to go swimming. I usually don't mind him asking and on that particularly day I can respond with a joy-filled "yes!" because it was already planned.
Of course, my son knew going swimming was a typical activity during our week. But if he came to me and asked, "Mom, can we fly to Italy this afternoon. Eat gelato and fly back tomorrow?" Not only would I say, "I wish," but I'd also have to say "no" because it's outside of the activity and character of our family (and outside our budget, fyi).
2. Ask to reduce anxiety and increase joy
"do not be anxious about anything, 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 your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-7
I shouldn't have favorite children or verses, but this verse is one I've spent many hours meditating on and memorizing.
Paul encourages believers to bring to God the things which are bringing us anxiety (everything making us anxious). But he slips in one little phrase, "with thanksgiving".
One of my favorite prayer recipes includes Paul's directions. It's the ACTS prayer model:
Basically you begin prayer with praise (focusing on His character), then remove any inhibition to connecting with God by asking for forgiveness for sin (which He gives freely). Then move on to thanking God for ways He has provided. And THEN make your requests.
The word "supplication" means "the action of asking or begging for something earnestly or humbly."
Humbly asking. God-centered asking.
By thanking God before asking, we remember He is good. Centering on His character and His past provision, provides peace (peace that passes understanding) and keeps our hearts & minds in Christ.
3. Ask now, for full joy
"Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full." John 16:24
If we believed the lie that in order to have God-centered prayers we can never ask God for anything, then we miss out on fullness of joy.
God is a good Father. He wants you to come to Him.
If you've ever kept a journal of prayer requests, then you know the joy which comes from seeing prayers answered.
EVEN IF. . .the answer is "no".
How many "no"s have led to even greater "yes"es?
But if we don't come to Him in faith and ask, then we will never experience the joy of joining with God in seeing His work completed.
This week I've heard of two godly women (Beth Moore & Anne Graham Lotz) moved by God to ask others to join them in prayer.
They weren't wanting people to gather and pray for lots of money or a new car. Their hearts were for others to know God's love & grace and to surrender and be saved.
Their requests were in line with God's will, prayer reduced the anxiety they felt about the evil in this world and when they do see people come to a saving knowledge of God. . . you better believe those women will celebrate with full joy.
May we confidently come to the throne, to experience peace of mind and fullness of joy.
For part one of this series, click here.