When crisis hits, our immediate instinct is to turn to praying to God as a way of escaping our difficulty. Yet God is often calling us to a way up in fresh pursuit of Him. We typically want deliverance from the pain, but God may be calling us to go deeper through the perplexity.
What are the depths to which God may be calling you today as you navigate uncertain and hard times such as these?
Praying to God: A Deeper Pursuit
Too often, we are content to simply seek God’s hand: what He can do for us. To go deeper, we must set our hearts to seek God’s face and the wonder and beauty of who He is to us. Jesus commanded us to follow a particular pattern of prayer. (See Matthew 6:9–13; Luke 11:2–4.) The first movement in that model is worship, seeking God’s face before entreating Him for our personal needs. If all we ever do is seek God’s hand, we may miss His face. But if we seek His face, He will graciously open His hand. Deeper prayer seeks God’s face first, simply because He is worthy of being sought.
Praying to God: A Deeper Purpose
When it comes to prayer, our definition tends to set our destination. Commonly, people define prayer as simply talking to God, or telling Him about their needs.
I like to define prayer as intimacy with God that leads us to the fulfillment of His purposes. This definition is truly life-changing. To experience this intimacy in prayer, we must pray with an open Bible.
Calvin Miller wrote, “Too often, we go into God’s presence with a list of pleas, trying to talk God into granting our desire. But this kind of praying makes us ‘one big mouth’ and God ‘one grand ear.’ But when we pray the Scriptures, it makes God the voice and leaves us as the ear. In short, God gets His turn at getting a word in edgewise.”
When two people are talking, the one who starts the conversation tends to guide it. The same is true in our communion with God. Over the years, I’ve known the joy of experiencing—and coached hundreds of pastors to embrace—“Scripture-fed, Spirit-led, worship-based” prayer. We go deeper when we pray with an open Bible and let God’s Word give language to our prayers.
John Piper notes, “I have seen that those whose prayers are most saturated with Scripture are generally most fervent and most effective in prayer. And where the mind isn’t brimming with the Bible, the heart is not generally brimming with prayer.”
A heart brimming with the Word and prayer is a heart that goes deeper.
Praying to God: A Deeper Reality
If you were to ask, “Which is more important, private prayer or corporate prayer?” my answer will always be, “Yes!” That is like asking which leg is more crucial to walking, the right or the left. The early church understood the value of community, meeting together daily in prayer and the other vital disciplines for spiritual growth. In Acts 2:42, we see the discipleship patterns that emerged immediately in the Jerusalem church, comprised almost entirely of new believers. It says, “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers” (nkjv).