So it’s that time of night again, where I’m tucking my kids into bed and it’s time to pray. As I prayed with them I began to hear a pattern of “rehearsed” prayer that I could hear was not really about communion with God, but was more about making mom happy.
Their prayer started with the same words, and now was being said in a fast & lifeless way, “God, thank you for this day, please help me….”
The verse from Matthew 15:8 (NIV) jumped in my mind that says, “‘These people honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.“ Where were their hearts? Hmmm…then I had to ask myself, "Where is my heart when I’m praying?” (Don’t you love how kids do that?… make you examine yourself also!)
So much of their prayer time (and sometimes my own!) is on what they want God to DO for them… the “making their requests known to God!” 'God help me with this’; ‘God make me better at that’; 'God please give me (fill in the blank)’.
As a mom I knew that while it is good and right to make our requests made known to God, I also know it is a detriment if we miss out on all the other aspects of prayer time with God. If my children only talk to God to “get stuff,” they will be missing the greatest blessing of prayer– spending time with God and truly knowing Him! Plus, it begs the question, “How will they feel when God doesn’t answer their prayers the way they prayed for Him to?” If the purpose of their prayer is to get stuff, then what will keep them coming back to God if He in His infinite wisdom determines to not answer their prayer the way they asked?
It is my desire that my children fall deeply in love with God and that they learn to “pray without ceasing”. I want them to communicate with Him regularly and to focus on HIM…not just on what they want from Him. How could I help them with this?
Well, Julie Van Gorp (my ministry partner) shared with me something she’d heard and applied in prayer to keep the focus on God. It’s called, ’ The ABC’s of Prayer.’
So here’s what I asked them to do: When you begin your prayer I want you to focus on WHO God IS and go through the ABC’s in your mind and come up with a character trait of God for each letter of the alphabet. For example:
A- God is All powerful/Almighty
B- God is beautiful
C- Creator of all things
G- Good Shepherd
It wasn’t long before my children and I began to spend far more time focusing on WHO God is and praising Him for His Character and Nature than on our requests. Then, when they were making their requests they had already been reminded of WHO He is, which makes WHAT He decides to DO with our request all the more acceptable and filtered through His loving, perfect nature.
I want them to love God for WHO He is and not just for WHAT He can do for them. His character never changes; however you never know what he’s going to DO next!
Focus on the ABC’s the next time you pray and let us know how it helps you to focus on God!
Written by: Jamie Shaver