I once heard it said that when we pray we do not change God’s heart, but in prayer God changes ours. I believe that this is true, so often I find it to be tested and true when I pray. But if I am honest, I don’t press in this far so often. Prayer often becomes the thing which I put off when I am busy, the thing that gets neglected when I feel as though I don’t have time. But other than spending time meditation with Scripture it’s the thing which changes me the most.
In Luke 18 Jesus is teaching about the prayer. He says that prayer is like a widow who over and over again beats on the door of a judge until she gets what she asked for. Jesus says that often in prayer God the Father is telling us, ‘Ask me again.’ And the Father is not saying this in a threatening way as my pops, and I’m guessing your dad, did on long road trips. He is sincerely saying to ask and ask and ask again. But I don’t like this.
Part of the reason that I don’t like this is that the longest prayer I ever prayer, one I prayed over and again for years, God said no to. In my head I can tell myself that God is sovereign. That He will give us that which is for our good, but also withhold that which will harm or hinder us. But my heart so often does not want to agree. My heart wants to sit where it is and not change. I ask myself so often, why pray. And often when I do I simply want to bring to God all my wants and all the reasons that He should listen to me. But I don’t press in.
I have found over the past few months that when I pray this way nothing seems to change. I pray for my heart, I pray for my life, if I am honest I pray that God would simply sign off on what I want for the both. But when I set my own heart aside, when I press in past myself, I see my heart begin to change. I find that in praying for others I begin to find my own heart become more like that Father’s.
Another thing that happens when I press in past praying for myself is that I see my weakness in prayer. I see that so often my mind wanders back to myself, and I see my selfishness. In these times I have to pray that God would fill me with His Spirit, that He would lead me and teach me to pray.
Though I do not pray as I should, it is when I press into the Christ. When I boldly approach the throne of grace that I find the strength to stay there. And there God does not change, He does not simply sign off on my plans but sets my heart upon His. It is in these times that I hear His Father’s voice sweetly say, ‘Ask me again.’ Though I do not know when some of my prayers will be answered, I have come to treasure the time asking.
For perhaps, prayer is less about getting something from God and more about getting God.