My prayers have changed drastically in the last year. In the last six months, even. I was far from praying earnestly every day (and in full disclosure, I still have days when I don’t), and my prayers lacked any reality. If I remembered to pray, it would be a simple “God, give me a good day today” and that would be it for the next 24+ hours.
Sometime back in the winter, I was getting more and more frustrated when I prayed for a good day and then had a day where everything seemed to go wrong. Like, hello God, I asked for a good day here. Did you not hear me?
So a couple months ago, I was driving to work. It was a Saturday morning and I was heading in to work a 12-hour shift. Saturdays are notoriously wild days at work where Murphy’s Law seems to rule. We used to pray against that during our morning meetings but by the end of the first show when we’ve been cursed at by guests multiple times over, those prayers have gone mute. There’s a turn on my way to work that when I’m super disciplined, I’ll turn off my radio and spend the rest of my drive in prayer. This particular morning, I did that and I have this super vivid memory of being in the middle of my prayer and it went a little something like this.
“God, just give us a good day today and don’t let anything go wrong…you know, no. Today is going to be a crazy day. But everything that goes wrong today will be according to your will and your will is good…”
And so on. Friends, let me tell what a radical mindset shift it is when you go from praying for ease and instead face the reality of the day. Because I remember then going into work that day and it was particularly chaotic, and instead of griping over why God wasn’t answering our prayers, I felt filled with His grace to face the challenges that did arise.
There’s this super cheesy Bruce Lee quote that I feel like everyone knows and because it’s a bit of a cliche, I think it’s worth gets overlooked. “Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one.” Mr. Lee brings up a good point. Our prayers shouldn’t be for a tranquil day but for the grace and courage to tackle what comes naturally from living in a broken world. Pray for God to cover you in grace to confront the day, and then thank Him for it at the end of the day when you’re able to look back and see how His grace is enough for you in any moment.
Which brings me to my next point. Are my prayers in the morning the same as my prayers at night? Am I as thankful for the day after living it as I was in the morning when it was just starting? I’ll be honest, my nighttime prayers often get bogged down by things that came up during the day and asking for solutions and I spend very little time actually thanking God for how He answered my prayers from the morning.
It’s easy to ask God for grace to get through the day before it starts. It’s not so easy to thank him that night for the child that threw up in the aisle right before Jesus rode the donkey into Jerusalem. So in an effort to be more intentional in thanking God the day at the end and not just the beginning, I’ve stopped praying for anything to do with the next day. Even if it means stopping mid-sentence, as soon as the word “tomorrow” comes to my mind I stop myself and refocus on today.
I love revisiting the Lord’s Prayer because it is our template for how to pray. I mean, give me all of the books on prayer you want, but I’m going to go to Jesus as my authority for how to pray. Now I don’t know if present tense is a thing in the original language for the Lord’s Prayer, but I love that it is in the present tense in our translation. Because then it blankets the past, now, and future. But it also covers literally everything that we ought to praying for.
God, you are our Father and you are holy, let your kingdom come and your will be done in our lives as it is done in Heaven. Give us what we need today, and forgive us for where we fall short, as we have done for others. And give us the eyes to focus on you and not be led into temptation, and protect us from the enemy.
That’s it. Don’t over-complicate prayer, friends. Prayer is meant to be communion between you and Abba, and to be honest, the Holy Spirit does most of the work in our prayers. If God is your Father, you don’t need to dwell on presenting him with solutions to your problems or what words to use for Him to really get it. Jesus says that He knows what we need before we ask Him. Don’t get bogged down by grammar or over-asking or whether you can pray in the shower.
Go with a grateful heart. Go before Him intentionally. Go because you want to.