On prayer

A couple of years ago Sally Clarkson asked a question in a blog post- What five attributes do you want to characterize your life?  She exhorted her readers to come up with five qualities we want to be known for or marked by.  I made a list of five things, and I still have that list.  In fact, on the first page of each blank journal, I list again those five qualities that I want to be marked by.  I ask that God would grow me in those areas. I look at them from time to time and am reminded of who I want to be.

One of those five is that I want to be prayerful.

This morning I read this verse in Colossians:

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.  -Colossians 4:2

I did a quick search for the meaning of the word "devote",  here.  And from there I looked up a John Piper sermon on this very verse.  I read the sermon in it's entirety, but it is this that encouraged my heart the most:

(Before you get into that quote, let me just say that earlier in the sermon Piper defines "things" not as "objects or stuff, but whatever your heart desires or needs".)  Okay, here's the excerpt that encouraged me:
The essence of prayer is the expression of our dependence on God through requests.
Now think about this for a moment. God's will is that we, his creatures, ask him for things.  And it is not just his will, it is his delight. He loves to be asked for things. Proverbs 15:8 says, "The prayer of the upright is His delight." He is so eager to hear prayers and respond to them that he says in Isaiah 65:24, "It will also come to pass that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear." In fact, he takes special steps to see to it that he is constantly badgered. I say that reverently and, I think, truly on the basis of Isaiah 62:6-7 - "On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have appointed watchmen; all day and all night they will never keep silent. You who remind the LORD, take no rest for yourselves; and give Him no rest until He establishes and makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth." So God loves being asked for things so much that he appoints people to "give him no rest" but to "remind the Lord" and "never [to] keep silent."
Meditating on this is very encouraging to our faith and hope. This means that God, the Creator of the Universe, who holds our life in his hands and rules the world, is the kind of God who loves to be asked for things.   [Italics mine.  Full sermon here.]
Oh, this is an encouragement to me!  God delights in our asking.  He is eager to hear our prayers and respond to them.  He wants us to keep on asking, to keep reminding him of those requests. 

It encourages me because knowing that he delights in me asking?  --That makes me want to ask.
It encourages me because it reminds me that God does hear me and will respond.
It encourages me because there are prayers I have prayed for years.  The same ones.  Those same requests, the pleas of my heart for change in me, for growth in relationships or difficult situations, for those I love to know Jesus, and for desires of my heart that I continue to offer up to him.  He wants me to keep right on "badgering", as John Piper puts it. ;)

I love that "reminding" part, too.  I remember that is one of the things that impacted me about the life of George Muller.  He did that in prayer.  He would sit at his desk and open up his Bible and point out God's words to Him and in essence say, "God, this is what You said right here.  Make good on Your Word for the sake of Your name and glory."- and he would pray according to that promise as if to "remind" God of His own words.  Of course God already knows, and yet- that passage in Isaiah is an encouragement to me that God doesn't mind the reminding, that in fact he desires it.  I have done this in prayer, too.  Just last week I sat with Scripture before me and prayed it right back to God and reminded him-- This is what You have said.  I believe it, I trust it.  You have promised this.  Now will you ACT upon it, Lord?  And it heartens me to know that this is an acceptable way to pray.

May you be encouraged today that our God is the kind of God who loves to hear your prayers; who loves to be asked!

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