I don't know about you, but those questions are convicting! I know prayer works and it changes things. I also believe it is one of the keys to building my relationship with Christ and strengthening my faith, but yet I'm guilty of not doing it more. Those feelings of guilt are convicting, but thankfully through my study they haven't been condemning. Instead God is encouraging me and reminding of the purpose for prayer, the power in it and the preciousness of it.
Can I ask you another question? How do you know prayers are precious and valuable? Please don't say because I just said so in the paragraph above! I'm sure we could all give examples of how prayer has personally been precious in our lives...just recently I learned of God's answer to a long awaited prayer. The news was precious!!
But friend, we don't have to rely on our experiences, which is good if you've yet to experience this!! We can look to God's Word and in Revelation 5:8 we read, "And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people."
I've read this verse numerous times before, but never really stopped to think about it. Now that I have, it's made me realize even more that prayers, your prayers and mine, are valuable to God. Friends, He keeps them...in golden bowls!! As I thought about this I was struck with the fact that it's our prayers He keeps, not our good deeds or religious works. Our prayers connect our heart to His, change us and matter for eternity!!
The next thought that flowed from this was...if God finds our prayers valuable enough to keep perhaps I should too!! I'm grateful that over 10 years ago God put it on my heart to journal my prayers because now I have some of my favorite books...ones no one else can buy!!
Friend, these books wouldn't mean much to you, but if I'm in need of encouragement or need to be reminded of God's faithfulness I simply pull one off the shelf and can literally read about God's goodness. I say that and don't want you to think my life is perfect or I only pray about the good stuff. Last night as I flipped through I read about our miscarriage and the death of loved ones, there were also many words about relationship struggles and parenting frustrations. Life is hard, but prayer is powerful and God has a plan.
Keeping a prayer journal is a way I keep myself focused as I pray, writing keeps me from being distracted and has proven powerful over the years. These books not only help me see God's work in my life but they also open my eyes to the growth in my spiritual life. Early on at times I had one entry every few months and some of my prayers were very self-focused and simply a time of asking. I'm so grateful for how God has strengthened my faith and increased my ability to pray.
As I reflect I'm also grateful for all God has done and for the reminder of His timing. In 2006, I read my prayers about something God put on my heart - Titus24U - it was a name and at the time I knew He was giving me a passion to connect one generation of women to another, but it was all beyond me and didn't make a lot of sense. But God was stirring and as I flipped through I see that continued in all the years that followed. In each prayer, I see how He'd revealed more and more and increased my confidence and desire to obey. And last night I was able to add a prayer...this time it was one of thankfulness - in May of 2013, Titus24U was held for the first time and over the last 12 months God has blessed the women who've joined together to pray, praise and study His Word.
One last thing I've found as I've gone through some of my old journals are prayers others have prayed for me. These two are encouraging...some of them came at a time when I was struggling to pray for myself - I truly believe they carried me through. Others are prayers that have strengthened my faith and shown me the importance of praying for others. While some bring a smile to face as I read prayers I may have been afraid to pray for myself, but others lifted them and God answered.
May my prayer be set before you like incense;
may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.