The word prayer has become so diluted by popular culture that we have lost the power of prayer. Even in the church we rarely pray bold prayers. In the back of our minds, we are thinking that if God does not come through we can probably figure it out.
I believe God is calling us to pray bold prayers. In John 14-16 we see Jesus repeatedly telling us to ASK, and he promises to answer. Prayer is work. God does not magically respond to formulas; he responds to relationships. He longs for us to enter into his presence.
Through prayer we can be made into what God has always had in mind for us. Through our relationship with God–praying without ceasing, which is an ongoing conversation with God–we are renewed and transformed daily.
In his classic, Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home, Richard Foster talks about the “prayer of relinquishment.” This is not an easy prayer because we give up control. “Lord, I am at my end, I can do no more, so here it is. I look forward to what you will do.” The key is faith to look forward. With open hands, eyes, and heart we relinquish control to God and wait upon his plan.
I have personal stories about the prayer of relinquishment. Perhaps the most dramatic is one involving our childlessness. For ten years Wayne and I had no children. We went through all the medical routes to no avail. I became angry with God. Then, after a baby dedication in an inner-city church in Kansas City, Mo., I repented to God for my resentment and literally prayed, “Lord, I no longer hold onto this and I will look forward to what you are going to do.” This cannot be a “magic” prayer or a selfish prayer that now you are going to get what you desire. It is truly emptying yourself (kenosis) to God.
Little did I know what God had in mind. Within a few weeks we had the opportunity to adopt a beautiful six-month-old daughter. In another seven months, we adopted a newborn boy. Three years later we welcomed a biological son and just sixteen months after that another biological son.
Prayer–living in constant communion with our Lord.