Consider, once again, the nature of relationships, like your friends or spouse. Granted, for some this varies, but having done quite a bit of marital work with many couples, I find the following to be generally true easily 90% of the time. Imagine you’re on a date with someone and you talk about the weather, sports, your favorite colors, and foods you like. Now early on in a relationship, that’s a pretty good date, particularly if neither one of you say nothing wrong and you agree to see each other again. Now skip to later on when both of you are considering whether the other person is someone you want to marry.
When you’re seriously trying to deepen the relationship, does the weather, sports, and favorite colors do much for you? Now you can talk about those things, of course, but they don’t deepen the relationship. To deepen the relationship you must have a deeper attitude about your relationship. You should want to talk about the true you, your deepest feelings, fears, and desires. You should want to hear the other person reveal to you who they truly are. If they don’t, it’s often a red flag in a relationship.
Now fast forward five years into the marriage. Both of your are working, stressed, and tired. You haven’t had the luxury of having many dates, and the quantity of your conversation has dwindled. But, you still feel connected because at the end of each day, before you go to bed, each of you ask three questions about the other, and truly check in with one another, intentionally connecting on a deeper level than you’ve had all day if only for 5 minutes.
OK, back to now. Did you see the evolution of communication there? It started with a lot of surface level. It moved to a lot of surface and deeper levels. Then it moved to little but deep levels. This is, at least in a marriage, healthy communication. I actually work with couples & get them to try having 5 minutes of meaningful check-in conversation at the end of the day, and practicing that has literally saved & strengthened marriages. But we’re supposed to be talking about prayer, right?
A MILE WIDE BUT AN INCH DEEP
I use all that space to talk about relationship communication to illustrate a point about many peoples’ prayer lives. Many people focus on the quantity of their prayers, but don’t intentionally work towards deeper levels in their communication to God. You may be able to pray for an hour, or may pray 10 times a day, but unless your communication is deepening your relationship with God, your prayer life may have quantity but not quality.
I submit, that to develop the discipline of prayer, that we focus first on quality, and that quantity will follow naturally as it should. To do this, let’s focus on our attitudes of prayer.
ATTITUDES OF PRAYER
What do I mean by attitudes of prayer? I mean the mindset and purpose to which we enter the throne room of God (Hebrews 4:16). I mean the posture (not the physical stance we take) of our spirit. I mean how we interact with God Himself in our hearts & minds.
Literally, read this next sentence, and answer this question in your mind: in what attitude should we approach God? Take a second, look away from the computer, and answer that question in your own mind.
Today I offer five attitudes of prayer for your consideration.
Oh goodness, this could be a year’s long sermon series in itself, but let’s get some of the basics. In Mark 11:20-25 the disciples notice the fig tree Jesus cursed has withered. He responds with a lesson in faith, that if you ask a mountain could be moved without doubt it could be done, therefore whatever you ask in prayer believe you’ve received God’s answer. Out of this, comes verse 25 – And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”
That last verse says when you come to God in prayer, you must be blameless. It’s saying that you can’t possibly come to God in prayer and ask God to forgive and bless you when you won’t forgive & bless others. Doing so is a complete disrespect to the forgiveness that God gives & calls you too to others.
1st Timothy 2:8 also then tells us Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing. The object lesson of the verse, lifting holy hands, is to ask “Are these hands ones that forgive, bless, make peace, and help others, or the opposite?”
God expects us to reciprocate the attitude we want from Him. God expects that the attitudes that we seek from Him are indeed the ones we also show to others. The attitude of blamelessness is one that doesn’t excuse us from our efforts to carry out God’s will on each, but indeed demands it. It means that before you pray, “Lord, forgive me my sins and bless me as someone who has wronged you,” that you have made the effort to go and do that to those who have sinned against and wronged you in your life. It means that instead of only praying, “Lord, I forgive John for what he did to me,” you actually go and tell John you forgive him! Where prayer comes into it is asking God to help you with the attitude, the willingness, & the aftermath of actually doing the forgiving.
This goes a bit with Matthew 7:1 which exhorts us to only judge in the same way as we would want to be judged. In short, prayer doesn’t do much if you’re not willing to live out & manifest the very privilege & blessing of prayer.
This doesn’t only apply in forgiveness situations. This applies in any form in which you have done or are doing something in which is contrary to God’s will. Prayer cannot be, shouldn’t be, nor is only lip service, and to pray without doing what prayer demands makes it a mockery.
Hopefully this gave you something to think about, as will our next few posts on praying:
I’m praying for you. Grace to you.