P is for pumpkin! Actually, I tricked you, I want to talk about how P is for prayer. Prayer grants us perspective, prevention, and participation.
Prayer is for Perspective. I desperately need perspective; I get severe tunnel vision. When I start to fixate and ruminate on things, prayer lifts me out of that rut and helps me move forward. The original meaning of the word theology is “union with God in prayer”. I couldn’t love this anymore! Theology, the study of the nature of God starts with conversation with God. You can’t know a person you don’t talk to. Prayer aligns our heart with God because we see Him in relationship. Through conversation in prayer I can gain His perspective.
Prayer is for Prevention. Stay with me here. Most of us prayer in reaction. Instead of using prayer as a guide we use it as 911. God designed it for much more than that. It’s a hotline for help. We just don’t often access it in time. Prayer as a habit sets us up to prevent us from sinning. God will totally answer our 911 prayers, but wouldn’t it be crazy more efficient if we were listening so He could just direct us away from the situation. Even though we sometimes label prayer as a last resort, it’s actually a preparation.
(Did anyone else notice that is another P word for my theme?)
When we pray in preparation, God can shed light on things in our own hearts and keep us from sin. When we offer God preparation time, there is so much He can spare us from.
Prayer is for Participation. This one has meant so much to me lately. There are so many things. You know the things. I don’t want to list them here and depress us all for the day. We have been surrounded by heavy situations. There have been so many losses lately in the lives of people I love. I just want to do something, and I have felt so helpless. Ever feel like that?
I’ve felt that deeply about Afghani Christians, and the reality is that there is much more suffering that we simply don’t see on our horizon. The fact that I can participate, that I can help the body of Christ through prayer had been a gift that God has been comforting me with. There are people I love that I just can’t reach, and even if I could reach them today, my comfort would fall short. I desperately want to do something. Anyone feel like that? Prayer is an action, it’s not wishful thinking. It has teeth that sink into Satan’s plans.
If we could actually see the spiritual world around us, I’m convinced we would never label prayer as inaction again.
I love that I get to participate in God’s plans, because He doesn’t really need me, but He chooses me. When we share in the battle for the kingdom of God, we will share that much more deeply in the celebration of heaven. Being on the team is always more meaningful than watching them play. It might be easier to be a spectator, but that isn’t why God keeps us on earth. He wants us to know the joy of building and anticipation of the kingdom coming.
Prayer is for Perseverance. Prayer connects me to what feels distant. Notice I said feels. It anchors me to eternity, and I just need to tug on that rope to feel steady and remember God is right here. I can persevere because prayer is my reminder. I can go forward because my eyes are open to God before me, behind me, and beside me.
I know you have loved my alliteration for today. I literally just thought of another P in closing. Practice. Prayer is for Practice. So many of us don’t pray because we don’t know where to start. Prayer is simply practicing the presence of God.
You cannot get it wrong. God’s word tells us that His Spirit actively works to interpret our prayers, even when we don't know how or what to pray.
“Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside us, helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayers out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans.”
Romans 8:26 MSG
There is no wrong way to do it. The only incorrect prayer is the one you haven't prayed.