Prayer: A Private Devotion (+A Free Prayer Journal)
Prayer warrior. Hold that word in your head for a minute and think about what comes to mind.
Likely, someone from your local church came to mind. Someone eloquent. Probably someone who conveys deep empathy and emotion when they speak. Someone bold. Someone willing to speak out loud when others hold back.
That person, the person who came in your mind, they have a gift for public prayer. And it is a gift we all benefit from. However, prayer warriors aren’t the ones boldly proclaiming in front of the entire Body of Christ but often, the ones on the knees in private devotion, unbeknownst to any but their God.
Can we dispel the myth that to be a prayer warrior, you have to be a public speaker? Because it’s simply not true.
There are instructions given for the proclamation of the Gospel, for public encouragement in the Word of God, and there are instructions given on prayer. They are all different instructions.
“But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” -Matthew 6:6, ESV
Prayer is an intimate, private conversation you share with your God. It is not a public display but a quiet moment in humility. Your words, they don’t need to be perfect. You did not need eloquence and you certainly don’t need an audience. Because when it is quiet, your audience of One, the One who knows each hair on your head and moment, unrecognized by anyone else, when your heartbeat it first beat and filled your veins with life-sustaining blood, knows you are there.
He doesn’t need dramatic words because He is the Word.
Prayer isn’t to acquaint God with what’s happening in our lives, it’s to remind yourself that God is desperately involved in each moment of our existence.
But yet, we do not pray as we ought. My heart is pulled to bringing trivial things before God. I pray for the weather, to avoid awkward situations, to be rewarded for my procrastination with something going smoother than I anticipated. I would, in a weak moment, say this was because God cared about every moment of my life but, if we were sitting on my couch drinking coffee and I was being truly honest, I would confess that it’s simply fear.
Because, at the end of the day, I prefer thinking about the weather over examining my heart and realizing, I need help loving. I would rather pray for someone out there, some “other” in need then recognize my desperate need for the Holy Spirit to help me do the hard work of controlling my sharp tongue.
But even in the moments when my prayers fall short, God is merciful.
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. – Romans 8:26-27, ESV
Because when we fall on our knees humbly before God, God Himself prays on our behalf when we don’t know how to pray or pray with the limitations of human perspective. God is wise and merciful. He is too good to allow us to wallow in our human perspective but graces us with intercession through His Holy Spirit on our behalf.
Prayer is important. It matters to God even when, especially when, it is unseen by others.
It is hard for us to see the value in anything unseen but the prophet Daniel recognized the importance of private prayer. He was even willing to risk his life for private prayer. Despite laws, he continued to quietly humble himself, kneeling before the Lord.
He didn’t care what others thought. Daniel went away quietly to pray. When others appeared to have him killed for violating the law against praying to the true God, he continued to quietly pray before the Lord.
He went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously. Then these men came by agreement and found Daniel making petition and plea before his God. – Daniel 6:10-11, ESV
Daniel’s private prayer time became public knowledge when he was thrown into a den of lions for his decision to serve God above an earthly king. But God’s deliverance of His privately devoted servant brought such glory to His name. He became known throughout the entire kingdom as the true, living God.
When we fail to see the what God is doing through our prayers, when we wonder if these hidden moments matter, we need to stop and humble our hearts before God. He is working in these hidden moments on our behalf and, even in our failure, He is interceding and praying for us. When we don’t know how to pray, when our words fall short, the Living Word sustains us and carries our prayers.
As we continue this series, I will be sharing some resources and tips for developing a vibrant prayer life. From prayer beads to prayer journals, there are an abundance of ways Christians have developed practices to focus their prayer life. For today, sign-up for The Thin Place email list below and get access to a free, printable prayer journal from The Thin Place Resource Library.