What’s something that matters a lot to you? Maybe it’s your job, family, or a hobby. Now, considering that, do you usually do ‘just enough to get by’ with it? Or do you find so much joy and importance in it that you devote more of yourself to it than you ‘have to?’
Now, switching our focus, how important is prayer in your life? How often do you talk to God? Lately, I’ve been convicted that my morning prayers alone aren’t enough. Because my belief in God is a relationship and not simply a self-serving program, it invites and requires more of me than ‘just enough to get by.’
Last week, I wrote about the importance of ordinary days. You can read it HERE. Together, we discovered that we can transform the shakable, worldly things in our lives with the unshakable things of God. I also gave us the sweet, much-needed reminder that God is not bored with our everyday lives: He finds great beauty and purpose in them.
Now, we’ll be going deeper into the most significant way we can capture the importance of the ordinary: prayer. This week we’ll study four aspects of prayer, and next week we’ll focus on constant prayer. Let’s start with the first aspect:
#1: Prayer is our DUTY.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
bring an offering and come into his courts.
In his pride the wicked man does not seek him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God. -Psalm 10:4
God is completely worthy of our steady focus and praise. We are to humble ourselves by dwelling in his presence, not just setting meeting times with him throughout our weeks. Are we doing a good job of giving him “the glory due his name?” That’s a tough question. How could we ever fulfil that lofty calling? The verse clarifies: “bring an offering and come into his courts.” His desire is simple: to have us approach him, come to him.
#2: Prayer is GOD’S JOY and HEAVEN’S FRAGRANCE.
Just a warning, the two passages we’re about to read might give you goosebumps and an overwhelming, humbling desire to pray. When I was first studying them, they blew my mind. So, let’s jump in! First, Hebrews 7:25:
[Jesus] is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.
-Hebrews 7:25, emphasis added
Ever since Jesus died on earth to allow us to come to God, he has been actively interceding for us before God in heaven. His advocacy for us continues beyond the cross! He shields us from condemnation, instead inviting us into relationship (Ro. 8:34). God hears every single one of our prayers because of Jesus!
Jesus died to save us, and he lives to intercede for us. How humbling! Our prayers are not individual, casual acts. They are offerings, actively received in heaven because a great price has been paid. Now let’s look at a passage that describes heaven in more detail:
Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. He went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people.
-Revelation 7:6-8, emphasis added
In this royal, strange, worshipful scene I can’t fully comprehend, one thing is sure: Prayer is the fragrance, the sweet aroma, of heaven. Picture it: the elders and creatures of heaven are falling at Jesus’ feet right now, offering him our prayers! Chew on that for a moment. Read it again. Let it sink in.
Our prayers, no matter how unimpressive they seem, are impacting heaven. Studying this has given me a deeper, more thankful perspective. In heaven, prayer is no offhand ritual. It is vastly important, celebrated, desired, and welcomed as fragrant offering.
#3: Prayer is OUR JOY, too.
Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!
Seek the Lord and his strength;
seek his presence continually!
-1 Chronicles 16:10-11
After learning about prayer’s role in heaven, it’s safe to assume that you’re feeling compelled to pray. The verses you just read deepen this desire with a well-worded reminder that seeking God is a joyful act for us, too! Prayer is not simply a duty, but a gift: something we’re allowed to do. Let’s not let our excitement be dullened by time or familiarity. The ability to enter God’s presence is always, always a joyous gift we could never earn and should never disregard.
#4: Prayer is POWER for us and others.
Prayer is direct communication with God, so it’s not a surprise that it holds vast power: the power of forgiveness, wisdom, healing, heart change, supplication, connection with God, a correct perspective, and the gift of peace- to name a few. This passage from Ephesians showcases quite a few of these. As you read, try to pick out specific things prayer can do.
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
I hope that studying these four aspects of prayer has been powerful for you—I know it has been for me! Prayer is our duty, God’s joy, heaven’s fragrance, our joy, and power for us and others.
Next week, come back to read about the necessity of continual prayer, along with a few practical tips.
I am easily distracted from the things that matter. During busy days, it’s natural to get wrapped up in the ‘here and now.’ Rushing from work to classes to meetings and Bible studies, with homework filling in the gaps, I can go a full day focused on those things alone. Recently, though, I read these verses:
At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.” -Hebrews 12:26-29
There will be a day when our jobs, homes, schoolwork, meals, cars, and towns will be wiped out. The moment God decides to usher in eternity, all these ‘shakable’ things will crumble. Interestingly enough, these are the very things we invest most of ourselves into. At the basic level of time, they compose our lives.
However, only what cannot be shaken will stick around for the rest of the show: for eternity. And this is to be our focus. Be careful here, though. This does not mean that our daily lives in this world do not matter, and it certainly does not mean that they are bad or evil.
It actually points to a beautiful truth: that we can transform the shakable with the unshakable. By God’s grace, our jobs, appointments, meals, and drives to work—things that don’t seem to matter—can hold eternal weight.
“You may feel that the only time God is pleased with you is when you’re doing “spiritual” activities. . . Actually, God enjoys watching every detail of your life, whether you are working, playing, resting, or eating. He doesn’t miss a single move you make.” -The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren
Time and time again, God shows up in the unspiritual. He goes before us and behind us and promises to never leave us: which, yes, stays true even during monotonous, regular-life days! He is not bored the way we are with our schedules and routines.
You have searched me, Lord,
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
This both shocks and humbles me: that God himself delights in following along with what I do every day.
He enjoys the beauty of human life itself, but he also sees potential in it that we often miss. Because we have souls that are unshakable and eternal, everything we do has the potential to affect someone else’s unshakable soul. Only from God’s vantage point in heaven can the full effect of this be seen.
So how do we bring this all together? How do we take hold of the fact that God delights in our lives, and maximize the unshakable? This quote from Rick Warren is helpful: “How is it possible to do everything to the glory of God? By doing everything as if you were doing it for Jesus and by carrying on a continual conversation with him while you do it.”
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men -Colossians 3:23, ESV
Unshakable fruit is produced all throughout your day when you focus on glorifying God. It happens when you prepare a meal with love and share it with your family. It happens when you’re kind to a difficult coworker. It happens when you write an essay or do a math assignment to the best of your ability. It happens when you sing along to worship songs on the way to work. And it certainly happens when you pray and spend time with our Lord. Through all these everyday things, he is crafting and perfecting something unshakable in you and the people your life reaches.
Next week’s post will look at how continual prayer plays into this process! It’s a focus that can’t be replaced, but there is too much to say about it to be included in this single post. Have a great week!
Your sacrifice for me is beyond my comprehension. I do not fully grasp the magnitude of the gift, and it’s hard to picture the scene of your death: the extreme agony of it. Blood. Impossible pain. Separation. Mockery.
My mind travels even further back, to animal sacrifice. Slaying life, perfect life, by my own hands. Driven by guilt. Burning, the stench. Gore. Death. And this, day after day. Never ending: the drive to compensate steadily overwhelming. No animal’s death could be once-for-all.
I can’t imagine any of it. And yet, here I am: free and forgiven. By no work or understanding or right of my own. I’ve done nothing but sin and receive! I’ve forgotten the magnitude of the cross: growing up with it as a simple truth, just the way things are- never realizing the way things could have been. If you hadn’t come. If I didn’t know. If I had to justify myself. Father, help me see. This gift is so far beyond me.
Here are a few verses from Hebrews that inspired this blog post! I hope they bring you to extreme gratitude and joy, as they did for me:
Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest [Jesus] had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.
The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! -Hebrews 9:13-14
The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God.
Hello! I'm Anna, a college student living in the Midwest. I'm a strong believer in uncontrollable laughter, powerful words, and a morning cup of coffee. I pray these posts will encourage you to live a full life with and for God: unhindered. Follow me on social media for post updates!