Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Prayer Wimp vs. Prayer Warrior

I've never been one to be at a loss for words. All of those quotes like, "she can talk to a brick wall..and probably get it to talk back" have been said to me. I try to make friends wherever I go, whether that be the barista at Starbucks or the woman running on the treadmill next to me at the gym. Talking to total strangers is always an adventure.

That being said, would you find it funny that I used to have a problem communicating with God? I mean, here I am chatting it up with the guy who's making my X-tra Hot Grande Non-fat Sugar-Free Cinnamon Dulce Latte (yeah, yeah, the ultimate "diva drink," I know!) and I don't know what to say to the One to knows me better and loves me more than anyone. You do the math - it doesn't make sense.

But it's true! I mean, what can I say to Him that He doesn't already know? Isn't he too busy with things that really matter to spend time listening to me go on about my life? Is there a time that's more convenient for Him? Do I need to make an appointment? Does he understand little words, or do I have to use big ones? These were all things that were very confusing to me. I was undoubtably a prayer wimp - infact, I may have even been the best prayer wimp. (Not that it's anything to brag about, but when you're as ridiculously competitive as I am, if you're going to be bad at something, in some warped way, it's better to be worse than everyone else.)

But I'm NOT a wimp, so I refused to let my prayer life label me as one. I began asking prayer warriors for their advice. Mostly, I got some kind of response that resembled: "I just pray." Okay, so that's like Mariah Carey saying, "I just sing." That doesn't help me any! Or did it? Because in order to leave my prayer wimp status, I decided to take their advice...and just pray. Slowly, I am learning the difference between prayer wimps and prayer warriors.

* Prayer WIMPS are spontaneous with their prayers, while Prayer WARRIORS are intentional in their prayer life. Choose a specific place to pray away from distractions so you can concentrate. Do you ever get annoyed when you are talking to someone, and they're text messaging someone else as you're telling your story? Or maybe they're captivated by the TV. Why would God feel any different? Technology, while sometimes fabulous, will ruin any conversation before it even starts, so eliminate these distractions while praying. I've also found it helpful to pray at the same time every day. Make it part of your regular routine so it will becomes habit. Write it into your schedule and then treat it just like you would schedule lunch with a friend.

* Prayer WIMPS pray under their breath or in their minds, while Prayer WARRIORS pray out loud. I can do quick prayers throughout my day in silence, but if I'm seriously talking to God, my words get jumbled in the mix of all my other thoughts. When I pray out loud, I'm forced to form intelligent sentences, and I'm able to focus on what I'm saying to the Most High. (If you were writing a letter to the Preisdent of the United States, would you scribble notes on a scratch sheet of doodle paper, or would you make it look as polished as possible?) If talking out loud freaks you out, you might like the next one better....

* Prayer WIMPS pray for whatever requests they can remember, while Prayer WARRIORS have a list of prayer concerns in front of them so they can address everything to our Daddy. I had two closets in my room growing up. Well, okay, so one was a closet and the other one was a storage space that my parents just didn't need to use, so I adopted it as a second closet. But instead of putting my things in there, I kept all of my Bibles, my devotional books, pens and paper, a Sharpie, and lots of pillows and blankets. This was the place I went to pray and study His Word, away from all of the distractions. Because this closet was "mine," I decided to keep track of all of my prayer requests by writing them on the wall. When God would answer the prayer, I would scribble a date next to the request with the Sharpie. It was amazing to be able to go in that closet and look to see how faithful God had been in answering my prayers! (Note, the answer was not always yes, but He always answered!) Find a way that works for you to journal your prayer life so you can remember God's faithfulness and remember the things that you need to bring before Him.

* Prayer WIMPS make "I'm too busy" excuses for not spending time in prayer, while Prayer WARIIORS redeem time for praying out of unused corners of their schedule. Instead of picking up your cell phone or screaming about traffic when you drive, spend that time talking with the Lord. (Contrary to popular belief, your eyes DON'T have to be shut while praying.) I already told you that I combine my running time with my prayer - and some of my best times with the Lord have been when I was pounding the pavement.

* Prayer WIMPS only bring forth their requests, while Prayer WARRIORS make time to praise Him. thank Him, and meditate on Scripture. Don't let your prayers be consumed with "Do this" and "Give me." Reflect on what God has revealed to you in Scripture, and thank Him for what He is doing in your life. Don't ever miss the chance to praise Him for who He is, what He has done, and what He will do.

* Prayer WIMPS are petrified at the thought of letting someone else in on their conversations with God, while Prayer Warriors know the strength that can come from praying with someone else. Some prayers may be between just you and the Lord, but there will also be times when praying with another believer can make a huge impact. Plus, if you commit to meet with someone else on a regular basis to prayer, the accountability can help build consistency in your own prayer life. In Matthew 18:20, Jesus says, "For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst."

* Prayer WIMPS pray for comfort, while Prayer WARRIORS pray for challenge. How many times have you heard the words, "God, be with me in all that I do today." It's habit, right? It's comforting to know that you can take Jesus with you wherever you go. But when was the last time you let Him drive? When was the last time you asked God to give you an opportunity to share the gospel or to take you out of your comfort zone? Many of Paul's letters were written from jail, and He consistently prayed for more opportunities to share the Gospel...while he was already in chains!

* Prayer WIMPS only pray for their friends, while Prayer WARRIORS also pray for their enemies. And no, this does not include the prayer that they will fall off the face of the Earth or be transferred to work at his company site in Siberia. Luke 6:28 says, "Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you." As much as I like to think that prayer changes people, I've now learned that prayer changes ME. God has softened my heart towards people that I never thought I would be able to be in the same room with, restoring relationships or creatine new ones. He is so faithful.

* Prayer WIMPS simply ask for forgiveness for sin, while Prayer WARRIORS ask to be delivered from all evil and temptation. Do you know those people who continually ask for forgiveness for the same thing? Maybe a roommate who always borrows your clothes and leaves them on the wet bathroom floor? Or a friend who always slips and spills something you've said in confidence? After a while, you learn your lesson - no more borrowing clothes and no more private info for them! Be responsible in your walk with the Lord so that He will give you His work to do. Living a sinless life is an impossible task worth striving for.

* Prayer WIMPS are vague in their prayers, while Prayer WARRIORS are specific. If you were God, how would you answer the prayer request, "Bless all of the missionaries." Don't generalize God. Realize that He is a BIG God and can accomplish any task. You're not going to be too specific for Him - he knows every person and every situation that you will pray for BETTER than you do!

Most important, we should lean on Jesus' advice in how to pray. I know I memorized the Lord's Prayer as a child, but it wasn't until college that I carefully examined Jesus' instruction that precedes the Lord's prayer.

Matthew 6:5-8
"When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door, and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him."


Pat Cooper said...

love this

Gabs said...

Right on.
Exactly what I needed today. I talked about you in my blog (see note: best friend).

Anonymous said...

I Love it Michelle, especially the part about Siberia, I know a few people who are still there =)...