Yesterday we asked whether our prayers really change anything, and we saw that the answer is “yes”: God really does act powerfully and make things happen in response to the requests of his children.
But there is a second way in which prayer changes things. Prayer not only changes the world; it also changes us!
Prayer is not for God’s benefit. It is for ours. We do not pray to inform God of the things that have slipped his notice. He knows much better than we do what things we should ask, and what things we would ask if only we had his wisdom! That is why his Spirit improves our requests and makes them better than we know. Paul says:
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. (Rom. 8:26-27)
Throughout this course, we have been saying that there are two aspects of prayer. It is not only about depending on God; it is also our most intimate way of delighting in God himself—learning to love him, revere him, and enjoy his love which is bigger than we can ever imagine (Eph. 3:19).
And as we spend time in the presence of our Father—both delighting in him and depending on him—he draws us closer to himself, purifies our thoughts and our motives, reminds us of who we are and what is most important, and strengthens us to live for him.
For all these reasons, our prayers fill God with delight as well (Rev. 5:8)!
In your prayer time today, look up any Psalm in your Bible, reflect on it, and think about anything that might fuel your Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, or Supplication. Use the two questions from yesterday:
- What things in the Psalm can I relate to from my experience?
- Is there anything in the Psalm that reminds me of Jesus or reminds me of what God has done through Jesus?
Alternatively, use this “Trinitarian Prayer” which John Stott used to say every morning as soon as he woke up:
Heavenly Father, I worship you as the creator and sustainer of the universe. Lord Jesus, I worship you, Savior and Lord of the world. Holy Spirit, I worship you, sanctifier of the people of God.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit.
Heavenly Father, I pray that I may live this day in your presence and please you more and more. Lord Jesus, I pray that this day I may take up my cross and follow you. Holy Spirit, I pray that this day you will fill me with yourself and cause your fruit to ripen in my life: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Holy, blessed and glorious Trinity, three persons in one God, have mercy upon me. Amen.
–John Stott, quoted in Basic Christian: The Inside Story of John Stott