A question has popped into my head recently that I can’t seem to shake, are my prayers important? Now, before getting angry and commenting about how all prayers are important and God hears everything we say and longs to listen to us, please understand that I know all of that and have made those same arguments myself. Even considering that truth the question remains the same, are my prayers important? Or maybe a better way of saying it is, am I praying about important things?
Admittedly I have to confess that many of my prayers seem like Christmas lists given to God with all of my wishes and wants for a happy and healthy year. I pray for things that I need; safe travel, good sleep, money to pay all the bills. I also pray for others; the sick to become well, those out of work to get jobs, students to pass tests, my children to be safe… It’s not just that my prayers are all about me because they aren’t. I spend much more time praying for others than I do for myself. Going before the Father and begging and pleading for friends and family and fellow Christians, but is that enough. Or better said, am I asking for the right things. While physical health is important is that the most important thing? While acquiring a job helps to provide for needs are there bigger issues at stake, monumental issues that must be dealt with? Are my prayers actually dealing with the important issues?
When Jesus prays for his disciples in John 17 he doesn’t pray for good health or for them to be successful. He prays for them to be protected from Satan, so that nothing destroys their faith. When Jesus prays for future disciples he doesn’t pray for them to pass tests and get good grades, he prays for them to be unified so that the world may see God. When Paul prays for the Christians that he is writing to in his various letters he doesn’t spend a lot of time praying about the trivial things that we pray about. He prays for their faith to be rooted and established in love. He prays for them to know God and to be formed in his image. He prays for God to be glorified through them so that the world will come to know Christ. He prays for them to be comforted so that they can comfort others. When Jesus and Paul pray for Christians they are much more concerned with God being glorified and faith remaining strong than anything else. And that truth makes me ponder, shouldn’t I be praying about the same things? Shouldn’t my prayers be more focused on God’s name being praised and protection from sin than safe travel and tests being passed? When I am presenting my requests to God, do I focus on matters that while they seem appropriate don’t actually have eternal significance?
With that being said, I’ve determined to change my prayer life. While I still plan to pray for the sick, and those who are traveling, and students taking tests, the subject matter is going to change. I am determined to start focusing on the important things, the things that will make an eternal difference. While I will still pray for the sick my prayers are going to be focused on God being glorified through them as they interact with doctors and nurses and for their faith to remain strong. While I will still pray for safe travel my prayer is going to be about God putting that individual in a position to bless someone they meet in the name of Jesus. While I will still pray for those who need jobs my focus will be more on building up their faith so they can trust God for their daily bread, even when they don’t know where it is coming from.
I want to pray for important things. Not that my prayers weren’t good or right before, that’s not the point. All prayer is good, all prayer is right. However, I want to start praying for issues that have eternal ramifications. I want to pray for others in such a way that they are taken before the throne and their faith is encouraged because of it, even if they never know it’s happening. That’s my goal. I hope you’ll join me in this new adventure in prayer.