Last week I wrote about the “wide road approach” to prayer and said, “When it comes to our children’s ministries, we all know we need to pray, but there is a ‘wide road approach’ which leads to a shallow walk and a ‘narrow road approach’ which leads us to a deeper walk with God.” and shared a few “warning signs” to watch for.
This week I want to look at the “narrow road approach” and share a few “mile markers” to help us keep “on track” as we think about prayer. I also want to encourage you to take time when you pray to find at least one Scripture verse and then personalize and pray it back to God. By doing this, you will find you are able to keep your prayers focused and will learn to pray in accordance with God’s will; after all, what can be more in accordance with God’s will than Scripture?
- The first “mile marker” is one where we think about “Who” we are praying to. Consider Matthew 6:9, “Our Father who is in heaven” This is beyond amazing! We are able to pray to God and He is our Father! A good earthly father wants his children to know him and feel comfortable with talking with him. Our Heavenly Father is so much more than just good! We can know Him and we can feel comfortable with talking with Him! What could lead us to a deeper walk with God than knowing He is our Father Who we can know and talk with?!! “Dear Father, thank You for being my Father and thank You I can know and talk with You!”
- The second “mile marker” is one where we pay attention to “how” we pray. Look at what Jesus said in Matthew 6:5-8, “When you pray, don’t be like hypocrites. They love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners so that people will see them. I assure you, that’s the only reward they’ll get. But when you pray, go to your room, shut the door, and pray to your Father who is present in that secret place. Your Father who sees what you do in secret will reward you. When you pray, don’t pour out a flood of empty words, as the Gentiles do. They think that by saying many words they’ll be heard. Don’t be like them, because your Father knows what you need before you ask.” When you pray, do you think about the other people around you and what they will think of your prayers? Do you use lots of “holy-sounding words” or phrases? Do you keep saying, “Lord” or “God” or do you talk to God the way you talk to others? When I talk to people I don’t keep repeating their names; why do we do this to God when we pray? We need to be on guard so we don’t “pour out a flood of empty words” and instead spend time with just God and us, knowing our Father knows what we need even before we ask! “Dear God, thank You for being here with me when I pray. Please help me be on guard about ‘pouring out a flood of empty words’. Thank You for knowing what I need even before I ask; please give me Your heart so I know what is really important.”
- The final “mile marker” is one where we pause and think about the condition of our heart and mind. Are we anxious, angry, depressed or do we have peace and feel safe and secure? Philippians 4:6,7 tells us, “Don’t be anxious about anything; rather, bring up all of your requests to God in your prayers and petitions, along with giving thanks. Then the peace of God that exceeds all understanding will keep your hearts and minds safe in Christ Jesus.” (CEB) If we are bringing all our requests to God along with giving thanks, then we will have His peace and our hearts and minds will be safe and secure! It can be very easy to pray without thinking, certainly without giving thanks and then go on to worry about the very things we talked with God about. “Dear God, thank You I can pray with confidence and bring all my requests to You. I thank You for this privilege and I thank You for hearing my prayers! Thank You for the peach You give me and for keeping my heart and mind safe in Jesus!”
If we are going to have a deeper walk with God and be able to help the children in our ministries learn to do the same, we have to know Who we are talking to when we pray, pay attention to how we pray, be able to pray with a confidence of knowing we can bring our requests, all of them, to God and when we give thanks to Him, He will give us a peace beyond understanding so our hearts and minds will be safe and secure in Jesus!
These are just three “mile markers” . . . what “mile markers” do you pay attention to when you pray to be sure your prayers take a “narrow road approach” and result in you being able to have a deep and personal walk with God? Next week I’ll consider a few ways you can help the children in your ministry develop this type of prayer.