A Summer Rest: Pray
Guest Post by Trisha Kirkland
In this third part of our 4-part series: “A Summer Rest”, Trisha Kirkland discusses prayer as an essential component of God-centered soul rest. Much of the content is taken from Tim Keller’s book entitled “Prayer”.
Prayer is something that has always been a bit of a struggle for me. For one, I tend to enjoy activity during my personal time with God. What I mean is I enjoy reading or writing or studying. For some reason, prayer doesn’t seem as productive or compelling as other ways of enjoying God. Thus, it has been on the back burner, relied upon during times of emergency or enjoyed throughout the day in quick prayers for needs or thankfulness for dinner. But deep down, I knew I was missing out on something. I knew there was more for me in my relationship with God, and the obstacle of enjoying God through prayer wasn’t anything but myself.
In an effort to overcome the obstacle, I began a journey of sorts to understand prayer and its practice. And I can say that it has been joyful and difficult endeavor. Sometimes, I can’t wait for the time I have set aside for prayer. Other times, I’d rather be doing something else. But throughout the process I have been encouraged and am learning the pleasures that come from being intentional in this discipline, and am excited to share some of those practices with you.
Simply put, prayer is responding to the knowledge of God. It is continuing the conversation God has begun with us through His word, the Bible. Through His word, we listen to what God has to say, we respond to His words in faith, and we enjoy intimacy with our Creator.
Many of us enter into prayer with our eyes focused on ourselves. We have problems. We have needs. And it is good to bring our requests to God. He wants us to. The problem arises when our prayer life is reduced to prayers for easy living. This is because we center prayer on ourselves, not God. In many cases, we would be wise to ask ourselves if we are responding to the God found in Scripture or if we are we merely talking to a God we have carved in our own image based off our needs.
If prayer is responding to our knowledge of God, then how do we begin to pray if our knowledge of Him is marginal? We begin in Scripture. And as slowly as a child learns to speak, we learn the language of Scripture, absorbing the truth of who God is. We listen to what God teaches about Himself and we respond accordingly in faith through prayer.
Below is a guideline meant to usher us into the conversation God has begun with us through His Word. I was a bit reluctant at first to follow a prescribed formula, but did so nevertheless, as it is a tried and true method that has been practiced by our church fathers over the course of centuries. I have grown a great deal in my prayer life by using this method. With this said, remain mindful that there is no magic in this format. No promises of health, wealth, and prosperity. In fact formula prayers can be dangerous due to our tendency toward legalism. So please engage this approach with an open heart and humility.
- Carve out time. Prayer on the run isn’t wrong per se. However, if this is the only way you pray, then it is doubtful you are doing any listening. Thus you will miss out on the deep soul rest that God invites you to enjoy through truly knowing Him through His word.
- Listen (focus on a Bible verse). Choose a verse or group of verses and read through them several times. Listen to them. These are, in fact, God’s words!
- Respond. Use the verses to guide you through the following:
- Free prayer. Lift up specific prayer concerns
Worship—Take note of something the verse says about who God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) is. Adore Him for who He is.
Confession—Confess sin (false attitudes, behaviors, emotions, idols, etc) that have been exposed in light of these verses.
Petition—What do these verses reveal about a need you may have? Ask God for His help with this need. Ask Him what you need to do or become to implement answers to this prayer?
Thanksgiving—Thank God for Jesus Christ, for His forgiveness of sin, for His grace to help in your petition.
This process need not take an hour. It could, if you wish. But it can also take place in 15 minutes. The point is that you are intentional in taking a next step toward your Creator through prayer. So this summer as you relax, make sure your rest is not an aimless one; draw near to God in prayer and He will draw near to you!