I recently launched this series of blogs distilling some of my thoughts on prayer.
I began with the following assertion: if we want to experience a deeply-rooted relationship with God in prayer, then we need to cultivate the prayerful language found in the Scriptures. A language that is also tethered to Christian tradition.
Today I will offer a glimpse beneath the hood of my prayer life and explore a few of the reasons I want to pray and why I enjoy praying.
Consider these my personal whys.
Five Reasons Why I Wake Up and Want to Pray.
Being personal, they are entirely subjective, but they do motivate me to continue my journey and develop or cultivate an active and engaged prayer life with the Lord.
I think that knowing someone’s why is important.
If you try to sell me something, I will usually ask you one basic question that helps me identify if you even have a why.
Have you Considered Your Why?
The question is this: “Are you smoking what you’re selling.”
I want to know if they believe in the product. If they do, then the why is always stated within the answer.
I often wonder if many of us have a fully developed why that motivates our life with Christ – particularly our prayer life.
If you show me a pastor who isn’t intentionally cultivating his/her prayer life, I will show you a church that is not worth attending.
What is prayer?
I loosely define prayer as enjoying communion with God.
To pray is, in other words, to enter into a preexisting, ongoing and interactive relationship with the Father, Son, and Spirit.
Dallas Willard, in The Divine Conspiracy, beautifully pictures prayer as an ongoing and interactive relationship when he writes,
“Accordingly, I believe the most adequate description of prayer is simply, ‘Talking to God about what we are doing together.’ That immediately focuses the activity where we are but at the same time drives the egotism out of it. Requests will naturally be made in the course of this conversational walk. Prayer is a matter of explicitly sharing with God my concerns about what he too is concerned about in my life. And of course he is concerned about my concerns and, in particular, that which my concerns should coincide with his. This is our walk together. Out of it I pray.”
Today, I offer you Five Reasons Why I Wake Up and Want to Pray.
Or, why do I continue to desire an ongoing and interactive With-God-Life today?
Five Reasons Why I Wake Up and Want to Pray
- First, God is good! He is a loving, just, and merciful heavenly Father (Zephaniah 3:17, I John 3:1).
God is love, period. As such, He is fundamentally good.
You’ve probably been told false stories about His wrath being most essential to His character. Those stories are not aligned with the full biblical account. His wrath (and yes, he does execute judgment against all that’s unholy) is tethered to and stems from His love. His wrath is neither distinct from His love nor is it a central component of His being.
By way of analogy consider mariiage and parenting. We all fulfill many different vocations (callings) in life. Two of mine are being a husband and a father.
I know my wife well. I know my children well. Much of my life’s energy and resources are and have been poured into them. They are among my, if not my, greatest investments in life.
Should someone seek to harm them or some harm come their way, then my anger or wrath toward those who are causing harm begins to stir.
I seek to take action. Even so, my wrath is not arbitrary or capricious (though, as a frail human – it can be). It is not necessarily even trained on the person or situation imposing the harm as much as the realities around the harm.
A Love Trained to Protect, Preserve, and Prevent
In other words, I seek to act by protecting my loved ones and helping them find safety as I seek justice and strive for resolution.
While every analogy breaks down at some point, it’s helpful for me to perceive God’s wrath, justice, and anger in a similar way.
His love is – as is all true love – a jealous love.
If you are questioning His love, follow this link to some of my favorite passages regarding His love (a few of them are contextualized with His justice – it’s imperative we do not rip these two apart).
Simply put: God is good.
He is love. Love is His essence. I can trust Him. I want to be around people who are good – who express love as an essential quality of their being.
God’s Divine Conspiracy and The Eternal Invitation
- Secondly, God invites us into an ongoing and interactive relationship with Him. He desires an active relationship with His people (John 14:23 – 26, Ro. 8:23; 34, Hebrews 7:25, Matthew 6:5-13, Luke 11:1-13).
If you read anything I write, then you know this truth is woven into the fabric of the patchwork quilt that makes me, me.
Even so, allow me to offer my absolute and unquestionably favorite verse in this regard, John 14:23-26:
“23 Jesus answered him, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words, and the word that you hear is not mine but is from the Father who sent me. 25 “I have said these things to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I have said to you.”
I love the phrasing of this passage! Jesus says – to me, to you – He and His Father come to me – they move toward me, toward us. They then make their home with me. They reside in this little old ordinary life of mine.
Of course, this is a reciprocal relationship. I love Jesus and seek to be open and responsive to His will and His way. This is how I get to know Him. He takes up residence in my life. His life lives through me.
As Lewis, in Mere Christianity, says, “Being a Christian is to become a little Christ.”
To know someone is to love them. When you love someone you listen to them. As you listen, you learn to respond. This is the natural rhythm of healthy, life-giving, and meaningful realtionships
Responsiveness to Christ’s will and ways in this world and for one’s life is the logical outcome of a well-loved soul immersed in a healty life-giving relationship with Him.
Know the Father Through the Son
- Third, God’s invitation is made most beautifully through His Son, Christ – our Messiah. Christ makes it possible for us to live in a relationship with God and shows us the way to experience the With-God-Life (Matthew 6:5-13, Luke 11:1-13)!
A moving account of this biblical truth is located in Matthew 1.
Toward the latter half of chapter 1, the angel of the Lord invades Joseph’s dreams – proclaiming a truth that must have been as alarming to Joseph then as it is encouraging to us now: God is coming, in the form of his child and through the womb of Mary, his betrothed!
“All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: ‘Look, the virgin shall become pregnant and give birth to a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,’ which means, ‘God with us.’ Matthew 1:22-23
Jesus didn’t come to get you into heaven when you die.
He came to get God into you now and bring you back to life. The truth is that when we are alive apart from Jesus, we are dead to the life we could be living right now!
Yes, heaven is the eternal reward for those who persevere, but he didn’t come to offer a transaction to us. He came, rather, to re-establish a relationship with us.
This reality should inform our evangelistic zeal today and guide us regarding how to present or make a case for the goodness of God revealed in the life of His son.
Asking a Better Question Leads to A More Biblical Truth
I grew up with people asking me, “Do you know for certain that you will go to heaven when you die?” Not a great question.
Jesus never asked it.
The Scriptures don’t record it.
The apostles didn’t indulge it.
No, a better question is this: “What will you do tomorrow if you don’t die today?” Such a question helps one explore the ramifications of living one’s entire life apart from God. Ramifications Jesus and Jesus alone can fully and finally resolve.
Okay. I have two other reasons why I Wake UP and Want to Pray.
They are coming next week!
Until then, Grace and Peace.