It has come to my attention that God may have a broader perspective in mind for My Tuesday Three than I had originally planned. Although I am certain that the showcasing of three blog posts will often be what He leads me to, once again this week that is not what happened. Although I have read a few blogs in the little bit of free time I’ve managed to find (and precious little it has been), none jumped out as having a theme or subject connected to others.
I have, however, been thinking a lot about prayer and spending time with God. Not coincidentally, I received three quotes in my Quotemeal emails this week having to do with prayer. All three were terrific, and so I decided to share them and my thoughts about them.
The first quote was by Florence Allshorn, an Anglican missionary to Uganda and trainer of women missionaries who lived from 1887 to 1950.
The primary object of prayer is to know God better; we and our needs should come second.
I think this is a great and true quote. But so often all we think about in prayer is what we need to ask God for. We have our “prayer list” of all our family and friends who need healing or financial assistance or a new job. We pray for our children that they would do well in school and meet a loving spouse and develop a career they can thrive in. We pray for our pastors and elders asking that they would have wisdom and blessings. We lift up our military and ask for God’s protection for them as they serve their country.
All of these prayer concerns are important and God desires us to trust Him with the answers to those prayers. But if we do not first seek to know God in prayer, then how will we know what to pray for loved ones? If we do not seek to know God better in prayer, how will we discern His will for us and for those we love (whom He loves even more)? God is all about relationship; He knows all there is to know about us, and He wants us to learn all we can about Him. Then instead of praying, “Lord, help John to get the job he is interviewing for today,” we will learn to pray, “Lord, if it is your will for John, grant him favor in the eyes of those he interviews with today and give him wisdom to know if this is the job You have planned for him.”
The second quote was by Julian of Norwich, an English mystic who had visions of Jesus Christ and lived from c. 1342 to c. 1416.
The Elements of Prayer|Its ground: God, by whose goodness it springeth in us. |Its use: to turn our will to His will. |Its end: to be made one with Him and like to Him in all things.
I like this quote, too, because of its focus on God and our relationship with Him. Once again we see that prayer is not about giving God a laundry list of what we think we want or need. Rather, it is about seeking God and His will. I particularly like what Julian says is the ground of prayer, that it is God who allows prayer to “springeth in us” in the first place. If it were not for God, we would not even be able to pray. This reminds me of Romans 8:26 (NIV): “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 with groans that words cannot express.”
And I love what Julian says is the end of prayer, and that is to be more like Jesus in all that we think, say, and do. Prayer that is focused on our needs cannot achieve this end; prayer that is focused on knowing God can and does.
This third quote is by Dorotheus of Gaza, a Christian monk who founded his own monastery near Gaza and lived from 505 to 565.
A man who prays without ceasing, if he achieves something, knows why he achieved it, and can take no pride in it… for he cannot attribute it to his own powers, but attributes all his achievements to God, always renders thanks to him and constantly calls upon him, trembling lest he be deprived of help.
This is my favorite of these three quotes. I loved how its arrival in my email coincided with my repost of my article based on 1 Thessalonians 5:17: “pray without ceasing.” I had scheduled that article to post at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday, June 25, and this quote was in my June 25 Quotemeal email.
I think this quote illustrates the humility with which we must come before God. It reveals absolute and complete reliance on God for everything, even the ability to pray. It also reveals the appropriate reverence and awe with which we may approach God in prayer, a reverence and awe that recognizes He need not listen to us and answer at all for He is God. And yet it reveals a trust that God will answer, for if such trust were not present there would be no thanksgiving and constant calling.
As I pondered these three quotes, I could not help but conclude that what I want from my prayer life is to know God better, to trust God more, and to seek God’s will with great earnestness. I will not cease to pray for my loved ones and for everyday needs, but in praying for them I desire to seek God’s answer rather than to dictate to Him what His answer should be.