As a child, I didn't really get it (and to be quite honest, as an adult I don't know that I understand it). There are so many elements that seem important:
- your head must be bowed,
- your eyes must be closed,
- your palms should be touching,
- your brow should be slightly furrowed,
- you must say "in Jesus' name" before closing,
- you must not be overly casual, nor should you be too formal in your speech,
- you must pray to God, through Jesus, with the help of the Holy Spirit.
Now, there are many times when I felt like my prayers came from my heart: when I prayed for discernment upon my engagement to John, when a friend asked me to pray for her anxiety, when I felt broken and ashamed. But in those moments, I didn't bow my head, I didn't close my eyes, and I didn't follow the order of "to God, through Jesus, by the Holy Spirit." I just wanted to talk to my Father.
Though I've slowly been learning more and more about the power of prayer, this morning I read a section in Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology that really struck me at the heart of my concern and helped me understand the power of the words I speak to my Father, no matter when, where, or how I speak them.
He addressed the issue of claiming each prayer "in Jesus' name," an item I have wondered about for years. If I pray without using the phrase "in Jesus' name," is my prayer invalid? Is that phrase the Holy password, without which my prayers fail to reach God? For years, I thought so, citing John 12:13-14 as evidence: "Whatever you ask in my name, I will do it." However, Grudem disagrees: "Jesus did not say, 'If you ask anything and add the words "in Jesus' name" after your prayer, I will do it.' Jesus is not merely speaking about adding certain words as if these were a kind of magical formula that would give power to our prayers" (Pg. 379).
When I read that, I felt like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. Jesus trusts us enough to use His name to authorize our requests. I've always known that He died because He loves us, but to think that he trusts us is unfathomable to me. I don't deserve His trust. I haven't earned His trust, yet He gave it to me. His death is the authorization, not three words tacked on to the end of a prayer. How amazing is that? Jesus has authorized us to come on His authority. When we pray, we represent Him and His will. Thus, the words we use to speak on Jesus' authority are not secret passwords to grant us audience with the King; rather, they are a reminder to us that we should be extremely careful about our petition to God. Is it truly in His will? Is it glorifying to God? Does it follow Scripture? Then ask Him for it.
The posture of my heart is more important that the posture of my body. A humbled heart is more important than a furrowed brow or gently-clasped palms. I love that.
These are the moments I pray for:
|Seeing my dad smile.|
"Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that your God is giving you." Exodus 20:12
|Spending time with my husband. |
"Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word." Ephesians 5:22
|Spending time with friends.|
"And day by day...breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all people." Acts 2:46-47
|Pouring into the life of someone else.|
"I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ." Philemon 6:6
|Accomplishing things I didn't think were possible.|
"I can do all things through Him who strengthens me." Philippians 4:13
|Experiencing how beautiful His creation truly is.|
"Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; yet Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these." Luke 12:27