We've recently been thinking about prayer at Redeemer. Matthew 6 has a whole load of challenging things to say about how we approach prayer and about our priorities in approaching God. I guess the most challenging thing for me is just thinking about the amount of time and quality I give to talking to God. It's not that I don't THINK it's important, in my head I really do. I have many moments in the day when I send up arrow prayers. There are moments of desperation when the twins are fighting constantly or being deliberately disobedient when I sit down and pray with them - I do want them to understand that the only way we can be changed is through God's grace. BUT when I think of the quality time I spend in prayer with God, in talking to Him, contemplating His goodness and grace towards me and getting to know Him - I am ashamed to say that most of my prayer life consists of a brief list of thank you's and a whole list of 'help me here!' 'help her there!'.
I'm sure that God does want us to rely on Him and ask Him for things. He loves to give us good things and provide for our needs. But so often for me these come first. I have to conclude that actually the time and quality of my prayer life reveals more about my approach to God and my relationship with Him than I care to admit. No matter what my head THINKS - it is the actual working out in my life of prayer that shows where my true heart lies. I spend more time in activities serving God than I do talking to Him. I spend more time checking my email and sending texts to friends than in talking with Him. I want the good things that God gives, rather than God himself. In the end do I think being a Christian is about doing stuff - serving others and carrying out church activities or do I believe that being a Christian is about a relationship with God and being shown continual grace through Jesus?
If I do believe the latter then the time and quality that I give to prayer should be radically different. I should rejoice in praising God for who He is and what He has done in Jesus to save me. I should be amazed at his glory (v9) I should be praying for God's Kingdom to come here on earth as it is in heaven - not a list of requests - but a real consideration and desire to see how relationships and situations would be if they were renewed as God wants them to be.
Do I believe in earning my way into God's favour through works of service? Or do I believe in a relationship with Him through grace? My prayer life reveals this about me!