I had a teacher in high school that would use the education system in China as an example whenever we were being lazy in learning a new equation or algebraic function. She would talk about the tenacity with which they learned. How they really wanted to learn the information. She would contrast it with our attitudes towards learning, which was anything but tenacious. We didn’t want to know how to actually solve the problem, but rather what we needed to input into the calculator to get the right answer.
When we look at the topic of prayer, we tend to want to take the easy way or pray the easy prayers. We want to pray “calculator” prayers. We want to pray 2+2=4 prayers. We want to pray the prayers that come the easiest to us, the selfish prayers. We love to pray the “give me” or “bless me” prayers, and that’s understandable because we typically focus on what we need.
I know because I’ve been doing that for a long time. Sure, I might pray a “deep” prayer every so often, but lately, my prayer has mostly been like this, “God, please give me a new job. I really liked that one I interviewed for, please give it to me.” But, what if, like doing math by hand, we “showed our work”. What if we focused on progressing past the “bless this food” prayers, and we focused on following the other prayers modeled in the Bible.
I am taking a page out of Mrs. Bushley’s textbook. The American church generally has a weak prayer life. And because we have a weak prayer life, we have a weak witness. There are underground churches around the world, risking their lives to pray bold prayers. Risking their lives to affect change in their houses, communities, and countries. What if we prayed bold prayers? What if we prayed for our leaders, whether we agreed with them or not? What if we prayed for our neighbors, coworkers, and family members? What if we prayed like the early church?
Let’s changed those questions from hypothetical to real questions. Let’s change the “What if” to “Why don’t we”. I’ll be honest, for me its because I’m selfish. I don’t want to wake up any earlier than I already do. I don’t want to give up any of my “personal” time. When the truth is I could make prayer my personal time. I’m not going to die if I wake up 30 minutes earlier. I’m selfish, and if I keep being selfish I will never experience the full life that is found by communicating with the Maker of the universe.
So I am issuing a challenge to everyone reading this. Set a reminder, set an alarm, make a clear effort to increase your prayers. Don’t just fit in prayer before meals and after your head hits the pillow. Spend time telling God how awesome and wonderful He is, just like the psalmists did. Spend time praying for those who lead your work, your city, and the country, no matter if you agree with what they are doing. Spend time praying for your neighbors, coworkers, and family members. Tell God all about these people and situations with the same passion you tell your friends or your social media followers. Pray for justice. Pray for righteousness to prevail over evil. Pray for compassion to silence hatred. Just pray. If we want to see a change in our families, communities, cities, country, or the world, it starts with us spending time in prayer.