SHAPED BY PRAYER

A few years back my family took a trip to Carlsbad Caverns. The President of the United States caught wind that we were going to be there and visited to the same day. Our trip was forever changed. I had hopes of exploration, freedom, and hours of canvasing the area. Instead we received a pat down, constant surveillance, and forced guided tour. What I thought was going to be a drag ended up being an amazing experience I will never forget.

Like any good family with young children, we stuck to the back of the tour. This gave others freedom to take in the caverns, while my wife and I (mainly my wife) cared for our kids. The constant barrage of questions and noises that uncontrollably filled our ears would soon come to a halt. Why, because the guide spoke.

It was just a matter of minutes before our guided tour turned into a vivid discovery of secrets, beauty, and insight. The guide showed us crystal formations, stalactites, and stalagmites that the average visitor never saw. With the simple turn of his flashlight we gazed at beauty like we had never seen. He showed us his favorite formations, unique creations, and the exact spot famous people before us had stood to take pictures. We also got to know the guide. His heart for nature, discovery, and respect for creation were unparalleled. He was inspiring. By the time the tour was over I was convinced any time we visit the cavern again would be shaped by this experience.

We started with an idea of what could be and ended with something that was exceedingly and abundantly more than we could imagine. My conversation with the Guide shaped the experience.

How did my conversation with the Guide shape my experience?

  1. The Conversation Created a Desire to Know My Guide
  2. The Conversation Changed What I Wanted
  3. The Conversation Left Me With a Gift

Our journey is one cavern after another. With God as our guide every conversation shapes the experience. How does prayer shape your daily life? Let’s examine how prayer (having a conversation with God) can create a deeper desire to know God, change what you want, and leave us with a magnificent gift.

Prayer Creates a Desire to Know God

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33 ESV

In Matthew Jesus instructs followers to seek God’s kingdom first. Many times our prayers do not reveal a desire to know God’s kingdom, our prayers reveal our desire for God to fix our kingdom. We desire good health, wealthy, and prosperity. We pray in times of distress and times of need. Prayer becomes more about God meeting our needs than our needs being met in God.

Jesus is asking his followers to reshape their thinking. Our kingdoms must die and God’s kingdom must come to life. Health, wealth, and prosperity are defined in knowing God’s heart for the world. Knowing God’s heart ensures that our needs (as redefined by God) will be met.

Examples of Redefinition:

NEED OUR KINGDOM GOD’S KINGDOM
Wealth An abundance of valuable possessions or money. An abundance of value given by who God says your are. Co-heirs with Christ.
Health The state of being free from illness of injury. The state of being free from the eternal consequences of sin. (Death)
Prosperity The state of being successful The state of being able to express Jesus’ successful victory over sin and death.

Our kingdom brings hate, unrest, tension, selfishness, pride, and impulsiveness. God’s kingdom brings love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, meekness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). The subject matter of our prayers points us to God’s kingdom or our kingdom.

Does prayer create a desire for you to know God or does it reinforce a desire for God to serve you?

Prayer Changes What We Want

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-19 ESV

One of the most asked questions is why am I here, or what is my purpose in life? The answers speak to the heart of what we want. Finding an answer to this question isn’t hard. Our parents, schools, friends, media, and governments have an answer. The problem is that their answers don’t line up. This just causes tension and confusion.

God, on the other hand, clearly expresses to us what his will (what he wants) is for his people. It may seem overly simplified, but it will be the hardest thing you will ever do as a follower of Christ. Look back at 1 Thessalonians 5:16-19 and read through it slowly taking in each thought and ask yourself what it would take for you to walk in obedience to this truth.

Does prayer change what you want, or does prayer attempt to change God’s mind for what you want?

Prayer Leaves Us With a Gift

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” Matthew 7:7-11 ESV

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23 ESV

We all love gifts. We love wearing them, playing with them, and watching them. We love collecting them, posting pictures of them, and simply showing them off.

Sometimes there is a disconnect when it comes to the gifts that God gives us. God’s gifts are perfect, unbreakable, and life transforming. His gifts bring death to life. His gifts are given through Jesus, found in Jesus, and point us to Jesus. Prayer, trusting prayer, God focused prayer, and belief in God’s promises as you pray will bring God’s gifts to life. Then we will see the gifts of God are more important than the physical gifts we get in life. This will result in us wanting to share the great gift of answered prayer.

Does prayer leave you with a gift?

Prayer should shape us daily. When we seek God, allow him to change what we want, and embrace the gift(s) God gives through Christ, our lives will continually be transformed by the Spirit of God, enlightened by the Word of God, and lived out in the community of God.

One Guided tour through Carlsbad Caverns was changed by conversation. Our lives can be changed by simple conversations with God. Allow God to be your guide as he helps you discovery secrets, beauty, and insight that will last for eternity.

How does prayer shape your daily life?

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