By Ryan Weber
I just started graduate school, and November is the time when every professor decides to assign the biggest assignment of the semester at the same stinking time! And for graduate school, the essays are not short; we’re talking 20 page essays that I need to sound smart on. And it’s difficult. And it’s changed the way that I pray:
Dear God, make the madness stop.
Dear God, help me fool the teacher into thinking I actually know what I’m talking about.
Dear God, give me an A. All I want is an A.
Prayer has a way of revealing our priorities. Do we only pray when things get super difficult and out of our control? If so, it may reveal that we are too self-sufficient and rely on our own strength. Do you pray about the things going on in your world (ie. Your job, your kids, your finances, your grades, etc.) but not about others? What may that reveal about your heart and priorities?
I’ve heard it said that if you want to know about a person’s priorities, you should look at two things: their day planner and their checkbook. How they spend their time and money reveals everything about their priorities. I believe the same thing applies to the content within our prayer life.
Prayer is about more than asking God for stuff, asking Him to intervene, asking Him to heal, asking Him to show up, asking Him to give, etc. During this time in your student’s life when finals are quickly approaching, essays are due, and they are drowning in the ocean that is homework, it’s easy to let their prayer life become restricted to the urgent.
They pray about what’s in front of them and what immediately effects them. And we do the same thing, right? We are so quick to forget the things that exist outside of the immediate blinders that we put on. And what is the result of that? The priorities that Jesus teaches that we should own (love others as I have loved you, seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, etc.) become secondary elements to my own kingdom of the now.
I love when Jesus exposed the intentions and priorities of the human heart in His conversations with people. He always found a way to steer the conversation to the main thing, regardless of how the conversation started.
He always pointed to our duty to actively love God and others and our call to proclaim the Good News. That’s the point, living Kingdom-minded and Kingdom focused. If Jesus wants us to live with blinders on, those are the blinders He wants us to use. And this is what an effective and positive prayer life looks like. How can I best align my will and desires with the will and desires of God?
Does that mean that I cannot pray about the things that are immediately effecting me? No! God wants us to pray without ceasing, and pray about everything. He wants to be the integral and driving force behind everything that you do. However, a powerful prayer life should demonstrate how our priorities are shifting to align ourselves with the character of God. How much are you legitimately concerned over the Kingdom of God above your own affairs? Have you owned the Kingdom of God like you own the Carolina Panthers? Or your business? Or even Journey Church?
Our ownership over the Kingdom of God comes when we prioritize aligning God’s will with our own. And the best way to do that is to pray. And pray. Then pray some more.