Prayer and God’s Word are inseparably linked together; power in the use of either depends upon the presence of the other. The Word gives me matter for prayer, telling me what God will do for me. It shows me the path of prayer, telling me how God wants me to come to Him. It gives me the power for prayer, the assurance that I will be heard. And it brings me the answer to prayer, as it teaches what God will do for me. Prayer prepares the heart for receiving the Word from God Himself, for the teaching of the Spirit to give the spiritual understanding of it, for the faith that is made partaker of its mighty working.
(Daily Experience with God by Andrew Murray)
Sometimes my prayers feel empty.
They seem to roll off my lips as more of a routine or habit. I forget the huge privilege it is to come before the Creator of the Universe, the Giver of all good things, the Mastermind behind the amazing creativity that fills our earth, the Maker of a perfect Heaven containing beauty we can’t even imagine, the One who forms each of us in our mother’s womb-with no 2 sets of fingerprints being identical, the One who tells the sun when to rise and set and where the oceans are to cease. The Alpha and Omega. And because I forget how big my God is, I forget the power that is possible behind my prayer.
And I’ve realized something. To fully experience this, I have to prepare my heart as I bow before Him. It needs softening. It needs tending. It needs tilling if the seed of His Word is to take root. The cares of this world quickly harden it as soon as I rise from my knees, my closet, my chair or wherever I go to Him in prayer. It’s just different when we’re in His presence. Yes?
So as I prepare to bow before Him, instead of hopping right into my daily list of needs/wants, I try to just sit for a moment. I take a deep breath. I try to clear my mind and heart of the clutter that has accumulated since the last time I knelt in His presence. (and boy can I accumulate some clutter!!) I find that I may need to listen to a song. Or stare out the window and take note of His creation. I try to simply remember. Remember WHO it is that I am talking to. His power. His glory. His majesty. His vastness.
I’ve learned if I don’t take some time to prepare my heart, my prayers can resemble a one-sided telephone conversation with a friend. Which is all well and good, but it can be so much more.
I know that God hears me even when I’m not intentional about this. Even when I throw up a quick plea for help or wisdom, He’s there. And He sure doesn’t love me more based on the length of my prayer. However, I am changed when I not only bow my knees before Him in worship, but also my heart.
Heart prep, if you will. It churns up the old, hard soil and clears out the weeds. Softens my heart for the seeds He may sow.
My [almost] 19 year-old boy has his first full time job this Summer. He’s working at a local tree farm and landscaping company. His days are long and hot but have been visibly rewarding. He’s learned a lot about pruning trees, proper planting techniques and has even driven some fun, big equipment. I love when he comes home at the end of his day, takes off his boots filled with fertilizer and dirt and tells me about his day. What he did. What he learned. The conversations with coworkers. I clearly see through his tired eyes that he feels a great sense of accomplishment and he’s soaking up new knowledge.
The other day as he shared about his day’s work, he was extra tired. He and the guys had been at our local high school replanting bushes that spell out our high school’s initials. S H S. It’s been a missed landmark for the last couple of years and our community is so ecstatic to have it back. I enjoyed hearing about everyone’s part in replacing what seemingly looks like 3 simple letters. (but involves a surveyor, the landscape architect, and finally the planters) His part was to help dig the 55 holes and plant the bushes. He talked about how rock hard that soil was and how difficult it was to dig these holes by hand. And he compared it to the soil that he was accustom to at the tree farm.
See, the soil at the farm is carefully and repeatedly tilled up. It is prepared and ready. The soil has been churned over and over again and it is ready for whatever is to be planted. Trees, flowers, etc. And although he had planted hundreds of trees at the farm in that soft, prepped soil… the 55 holes at the high school in the hard dirt proved to be much more difficult to dig and plant. The soil was simply unprepared.
I believe it’s the same with our hearts. They harden when they go untended for a while. We can’t just sit down and ask God for some seed to be thrown our way and expect for them to take root. It requires some prep work. On our parts-and His. Tilling. And I hate to tell ya, that’s not always a comfortable process.
Sometimes it’s an unplanned season of pain that softens us and preps our hearts for the seed that God is wanting to plant in our heart. Other times it’s simply a dry season and we can’t even explain why. And sometimes it’s because we just don’t take that extra time to intentionally till the soil first. It’s an extra step…but oh so worth it. Ask Luke! 🙂
I think about these components as I read the selection by Andrew Murray. How prayer and His Word go hand in hand. You can’t experience the power in either, without the other. Today, as we intentionally bow and give our hearts over to the Master Planter, let’s allow Him to prep our hearts so the seeds HE plants through His Word can take root and grow. And may our prayers become more worshipful of Who He is and not simply filled with requests.
I have a feeling if we focus a little more on the condition of our soil, our harvest will be much more BOUNTIFUL!