Prayer is 90% desire and 10% words
Prayer is supposed to be deep and vibrant. Contrast "phone book prayer" with the way the apostle Paul prayed for his friends in the church at Philippi.
"I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for you, I always pray with joy, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it through to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart... I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus" (Philippians 1:3-8).Let's review how Paul prays for them:
Thankfulness. Joy. Confidence. Feeling. Heart. Longing. Affection.This is hardly "phone book praying"! I don't see Paul rattling off a list of churches to God. "And Father, I pray for the believers in Thessalonica, and Rome, and Philippi, and Corinth..." Instead, he feels his connection with his friends in Philippi, and these feelings become the vehicle that carries his prayers. It is like the difference between reading a person's name out of the phone book and getting inside that person's skin. Paul does make specific requests for the Philippians (see verses 9-11), but we learn from him that prayer is not just words. Prayer is desire expressed to God.
"Desire expressed" is vastly different from "words rattled." How can we do this? I have three simple tips.
- Take enough time to feel. It takes a few extra moments, but it's worth it.
- Get into someone's world. Pause long enough to get into someone's world, feel their situation, and then express that to God.
- Feel authentic desire for that person's wellbeing. God wants the best for people, and he conveys his feelings to us. We join him when we feel an authentic desire for someone's true wellbeing.
- Express emotions fully; use words if you need to. Sometimes the deepest prayer is a gutteral cry on someone's behalf. God knows what you are trying to get across. Let your emotions do the talking.
- Be thankful, joyful, and confident. To pray for someone is to bring his/her world to God. God holds the answers. We can be happy and confident in his faithfulness.
Next time praying feels like reading the phone book, remember. Prayer is 90% desire and 10% words.