Friday, July 5, 2013

Grown-up Prayer Requests, Part 1

The last few months of fatherhood have been exciting and rewarding.  As my wife and I count down to our daughter Jael's 2nd birthday next Wednesday, its only natural to reflect on the milestones we've seen over the last 51 weeks.  One of the many milestones is the beginning of clear speech.

For sure, Jael has learned ways of getting her point across before she discovered words.  But its exciting to witness how she makes the connection between words/names and the objects and persons they describe or refer to.  I have also taken note of the first word that I have heard her use with extreme emphasis and intentional regularity.  That word?


She knows what shoes are and if I ask her to go get her shoes, she'll gladly get them.  But she won't say "shoe".  She knows what brushing her teeth means, but she won't say "brush" or "teeth".  She's aware of other words too, but she hardly uses them.  But when it comes to food and eating, she's got that locked.

It makes sense, of course, because it's an immediate need.  It's also a legitimate need.  Not to mention the fact that it also brings her great pleasure to eat just about anything that her mother lovingly provides.   Since hunger comes suddenly and is both imperative and pleasurable to address, it is all important to learn how to attain the answer for all three.  We can see then, how a child is motivated to learn how to communicate with the goal of satisfying these three things.

All this was coming to mind during the month of June for me since our church was in the midst of a month-long prayer vigil that coincides with weekly guest preachers each Wednesday to create what we call "June Jubilee", a month-long revival at the year's mid-point.  We gather every morning at 6AM to corporately embrace God's invitation to "come boldly to the throne of grace" with a unified theme each day from a provided devotional thought.  The hour-long session goes something like this: 3-4 individuals lead in prayer for the first 30 minutes, then we break up into groups of three (triads) where each person takes a few moments to pray for the other two triad members, then one big circle with a final prayer given by one person.

I learned a lot about prayer as I listened to different persons lead.  Without being overly critical of any particular style, approach, pattern, or even choice of wording, I was at times amused, appalled and even convicted by a kind of prayer that reminded me of Jael's limited verbal expression/interests. In other words, how many prayers are only concerned with the immediate, self-indulgent needs of the individual praying?

So here are the questions I'm asking:

Do my prayers reflect or gauge my spiritual maturity?

Does my praying mindset reflect a growing biblical perspective of God, myself, and my world?

Is God waiting for me to grow up in prayer with requests that go beyond immediate needs in the same way that I can't wait for Jael to start telling me about something other than her cravings?

What would my prayers sound like if they reflected the priorities of someone OTHER than myself... like maybe God's priorities?

Hmm... sounds like a good blog series coming up.

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