Instead of long, loud, and fancy, the prayers that move God are simple, authentic, and heartfelt. But simple is not the same as safe. And that’s the reason I’m compelled to write this. The biggest mistake I made in my prayer life, the reason my prayers were so lame, is because I prayed too safely. I was in a comfort zone with God. I wasn’t on fire and I wasn’t cold. My prayers were tepid. But safe, lukewarm prayers don’t draw us closer to God or help us reveal his love to this world.
Prayers are inherently dangerous. This idea about prayer dawned on me while reading about Jesus talking to his Father in the garden of Gethsemane, just a short time before he gave his life on the cross. Knowing what was ahead, Jesus asked God if there was any other way. Then Jesus, not just a regular disciple or a person in the Bible, but J-E-S-U-S, the Son of God, prayed a vulnerable and dangerous prayer of submission: “Yet I want your will to be done, not mine” (Luke 22:42).
Jesus never asks us to do something he wouldn’t do himself. He calls us to a life of faith, not a life of comfort. Instead of coming to him for a safer, easier, stress-free lifestyle, the Son of God challenges us to risk loving others more than ourselves. Instead of indulging our daily desires, he calls us to deny them for something eternal. Instead of living by what we want, he tells us to pick up our crosses daily and follow his example.
I worry that for a lot of people, prayer is like buying a lottery ticket, a chance at a life here on earth that’s problem-free, stress-free, pain-free. For others, prayer is merely a sentimental routine, like reciting favorite song lyrics or a beloved nursery rhyme from childhood. Yet others pray only because they feel even guiltier if they don’t.
But none of these prayers reflect the life Jesus came to give us.
Instead, he called us to leave everything to follow him.
Jesus didn’t just challenge others to leave their own wills behind. He too lived a dangerous faith. He touched lepers. Showed grace to prostitutes. And stood bravely in the face of danger. Then he told us we could do what he did—and more.
And that’s why we can’t settle for simply asking God to bless our food or “be with us today.”
We’re told in the Bible that we can “come boldly to the throne of our gracious God” (Heb. 4:16a NLT). We don’t have to approach timidly or feel awkward—we can come before him with confidence, assurance, and boldness. When we pray this way, then “we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most” (Heb. 4:16b NLT).
Your prayers matter.
How you pray matters.
What you pray matters.
Your. Prayers. Move. God.
By pastor Craig Groeschel of Life Church www.craiggroeschel.com