I’ve noticed something about prayer, prayer life, prayer habits and prayer posture lately. Something new, different, deeper… better. I don’t yet fully understand it, but I know it is good, and right. It is blessing me – and so I want to share it with you.
I’ve noticed that as I go deeper into Jesus, my prayers look and sound and are offered differently. Namely, I am asking for far less of God, and I am thanking Him for far more.
I can think back on my conversations with the Lord, and certainly recall that giving thanks has generally always been an element of prayer. But often, those thanksgivings would be checklist items.
Thank You God for:
- Mommy and Daddy
- My brothers and my sister
- Our house
- My food
- Our health
- My new (fill in the blank toy or other thing I was loving…)
- Forgiving me of my sins
- For guiding, guarding and directing me
Maybe you get the idea, and can relate. In so many ways, these prayers of my youth became the script of my prayers into adulthood.
There was no maturation there. The conversation never went deeper. Hold up, conversation? Haha. Really, it was just my side of the talking that I was acknowledging.
I’m not certain exactly when things started to change. It was organic and progressive. But I know that the change correlated to seeking the Lord, drawing near, surrendering to Him my life, receiving His nature and character as Good, learning to hear His Voice, walking with Him in relationship, having conversation (real conversation with Him), becoming comfortable being naked with Him, and dying to myself and my life so that He could Live and express His in me.
Not only did prayer expand from a set apart time in a quiet place into an ongoing dialogue whenever and wherever I was – I noticed that the posture and the words shifted too.
Now you have every spiritual gift you need… – 1 Corinthians 1:7
We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything. – 2 Corinthians 6:10
All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. – Ephesians 1:3
I read these and things shift for me. The Psalms are rich with thanksgiving throughout (Psalm 100 and Psalm 136 come to mind for emphasis). And Jesus Himself promises that in seeking the Kingdom first, we have everything we need. (Matthew 6:33)
The Christian Life is about receiving and becoming who you already are. In this way, conversing with the Lord in prayer will begin to look like much more recognition of, receiving of and thanking for what is already ours in Christ.
Does this mean we should never approach God with a need, or a request, or to ask Him for anything? I am not suggesting that at all. We are to pray about everything (Philippians 4:6). Because God is Good, He wants to hear from us on anything and everything. He desires for us to be in dialogue with Him (even the us-to-Him one-way dialogue), because He loves us, and loves to hear us speak to Him. You know what? This is even true when we are mad at Him, or tell God we hate Him.
God loves any communication and fellowship with His children.
Parents – imagine your young child. You likely delight in them coming to you in all things. Sure, there are times when this can be exasperating and you just want to lock yourself in a closet. But you love your children, and you delight when they come to you, ask you for things, have conversation with you. You love when they crawl up in your lap, look into your eyes and make requests of you.
God is the same way. So ask of Him. Anything, and often.
But also, as you mature in knowing Him, and more importantly, knowing who you are in Him – learn to approach prayer in the posture of thanks for what is already yours. This is Worship. This is testimony. This is Victory. This is Faith. This is Belief.
- Need provision? You have it. You can ask God to provide. You can also thank Him for having provided. You can come in thanks and praise for provision in advance. You can worship Jesus as Provision Himself.
- Need wisdom? You have it. You can ask God for it. You can also thank Him for having bestowed it. You can come in thanks for access to His mind and will. You can worship Jesus as Wisdom Himself.
- Need rest and strength? You have it. You can ask God for it. You can also thank Him for having given it. You can come in thanks for Him being the Vine on which you abide, receiving nourishment; for being the Rock on which you are planted, receiving strength. You can worship Jesus as Rest and Sabbath and Strength Himself.
- Need protection? You have it. You can ask God for it. You can also thank Him for protecting you. You can come in thanks for Him having His Wing and His Shield about you; for being your Fortress. You can Worship Jesus as the Protector Himself.
Do you see the difference? For almost anything we come to the Lord for, in an asking posture – we can come to Him also in a thanking posture – one that acknowledges in faith who He is, and what we already have in Him.
We indeed love our young children to come to us for anything they need – but we desire to see them mature into a place of contentment, receipt, acknowledgement, confidence, wisdom and thanks for what they already have. The Lord desires the same for His children. To see from His perspective. To Live from His Life.
And to converse with Him in prayer accordingly.
What do you think? Do you agree or disagree? Has your dialogue with the Lord in prayer shifted or changed? In what way? How do you see the distinction between asking and thanking?