Trying to understand prayer is one of the great challenges of being a Christian. Sometimes I think of prayer as a Star Trek of sorts...like a prayer beamed to Jesus who then beams it up to God on my behalf. Sometimes I think I just talk to the Lord and leave it there like a grocery list that He can choose to fill or not. And other times I feel like a big mess blubbering my heart out to God and it's more like a counseling session where I'm laying on the couch and He's quietly taking notes in the chair.
So you see, I don't really have the whole process of prayer figured out. But what I do know is this:
1. I feel better after I pray. There is a peace that passes understanding when you leave your life in the hands of God.
2. I forgive easier after I pray. When I realize the great patience and grace and long-suffering it must take God to manage my own life, I find it easier to give those things to others. I want to be forgiven easily so why would I withhold forgiveness to those who want it from me. I want God to give me grace when I've had a bad day or when I've slipped up or when I've been grumpy (AKA..sinned)....so why would I withhold that same grace towards others in my life.
3. I sin differently after I pray. I still sin, but it's different. I am more aware, hopefully more careful of the way I walk and talk and live. I still sin but it's usually less intentionally. I am more aware of God's presence when I am consistently in prayer with Him. His nearness helps me make wiser decisions, better and clearer choices. Am I perfect....obviously no...just more aware...walking in closer communion.
4. I worship differently after I pray. When I am drawn into God's presence in prayer there is no way that I can be the same. When I acknowledge His greatness, His majesty and His sovereignty, humility and awe easily take over and my worship of Him is changed from what He can do for me...to who HE is.
5. I am more thankful after I pray. How can I not be? I have a Savior who intercedes on my behalf. Unconditional love oozing from a Heavenly Father. A God who cares for me enough to correct me and guide me. A never sleeping always available ear to hear my heartaches and my requests and my petition for others....I mean truly....how can I not be more thankful each time I pray!
While this is not an exhaustive list of the process of prayer...it is surely a starting place to recognize the pleasure and the privilege of a prayer relationship with our Lord. I'm thankful that He designed this process and desires to hear my voice in worship and confession and prayers and petition.