Devote yourselves to prayer,
being watchful and thankful.
As the month of July started up, I somehow was drawn to the idea that I should focus more deeply on prayer during the month. It didn't seem like a timely focus at first, for it was the beginning of a month of family visiting us, followed by an 18-day trip to the Pacific Coast.
Why would I want to take vacation time, and family time, to focus on prayer? Prayer is hard work, really. It's easy to pray about the every day concerns, and the things I need help with. But to pray for others? Intercessory prayer has always taken a determined effort on my part. And I imagine it is because it is of most importance.
So when I was drawn to focus on prayer this month, I was being drawn to focus on something of most importance. Prayer is connecting our hearts to God; pouring our hearts out to Him, and listening to His heart, bringing all of our concerns to Him. The smaller things that concern us in our every day, and the bigger concerns involving those we know and love. There is no end to the need for prayer in this time that we live in.
"Prayer is the difference between seeing with our physical eyes and seeing with our spiritual eyes. Prayer gives us a God's eye view." (Mark Batterson)
"The plans of God are only revealed in the presence of God. We don't get our marching orders until we get on our knees!" (Mark Batterson)
"Prayer turns us into first-class noticers. It helps us see what God wants us to notice. The more you pray, the more you notice; the less you pray, the less you notice." (Mark Batterson)
So, I pulled out one of my favorite books on prayer: Draw the Circle, by Mark Batterson. Forty short devotionals on the topic of prayer, full of encouragement. I think that maybe we should be reading through a book that deals with prayer continually, or at least periodically. We need to be reminded and encouraged, for prayer is what we can most easily be distracted from.
And I pulled out my collection of verse cards on prayer. I discovered that in my collection (so far), I have 39 verses on the topic of prayer. And there will be more to add as I go through this month of focus on prayer. Sometimes it's good to read a longer passage from God's Word each day; sometimes it's good to read one verse, or a few verses. To read it slowly, to write it out into a journal, to really listen, to pray it back to God as a prayer.
But if you remain in Me
and My Words remain in you,
you may ask for anything you want,
and it will be granted.
"Prayer is planting. Each prayer is like a seed that gets planted in the ground. It disappears for a season, but it eventually bears fruit that blesses future generations. In fact, our prayers bear fruit forever." (Mark Batterson)
"Prayer is more like an investment account. Every deposit accumulates compound interest. and one day, if we keep making deposits every day, it will pay dividends beyond our wildest imagination." (Mark Batterson)