In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there. Mark 1:34 (NASB)
I have been reading the book, A Praying Life by Paul Miller. I was able to get it for free on Kindle for PC and I downloaded it without knowing anything about it. From the first page I was hooked by the openness and honesty of the author as he writes about the reality of how prayer "works" for so many of us. This is a very refreshing read about how we communicate with God.
I find prayer to be an exhausting exercise and too often my prayers amount to little more than a list of stuff I want from God. How sad for me and all those like me! Presenting the Lord with a list of prayer requests is not something that "happens" to us, it is something we do as a result of 1) our sinful hearts that focus more on self than God and others, and 2) the cultural influences we accept and begin to live out.
How often I have simply come to God asking Him for this or that, and left out all that is important to Him!
I have another excellent book entitled, All the Prayers of the Bible (Herbert Lockyear)and within its covers are fantastic examples of prayer that honors and edifies God and also brings out the true needs of the believer. They are the prayers of all the OT saints and also the NT saints like Paul, Peter, John and the prayers of Jesus too. If you are looking for some help and direction on how to pray as the heroes of our faith prayed I suggest you check it out.
Paul's prayers include things like asking God that the saints would know Him, desire Him, understand His will, and all this for the purpose of walking through this life in a manner that pleases Him! Ha, more accurately, the NASB says so that we may live lives worthy of Him...Nothing like the way we usually pray...
I also read The Valley of Vision which is a collection of Puritan prayers. These cut my heart to the quick and cause me to examine it every time I read this powerful little book.
How is it that we (I) have strayed so far from His ideals and wandered into our (my) own pasture? How, in spite of all the reading and studying and praying I have done over the years can it be true that I am still such a...failure when it comes to knowing and understanding Him? My heart cries out to know Him, and to live my life in a way that glorifies Him and yet I am still so very far away remembering to pray for all He says in His Word?
Don't misunderstand, this is not self-beat up. If it is anything it is a further understanding of His grace and mercy. He loves us so deeply and He wants us to love one another and to pray for one another to have the things that are important to HIM! The Lord does want us to come to Him with the cares and burdens of this life, and of course to bring our needs to His throne; however maybe you will also realize upon reflection that like me you have drifted into ineffective prayer.
I would ask you to think about this today, and see if your prayers are in line with those of Paul in Colossians 1:9-15, and Romans 1:9-10, and Ephesians 1:15-16. Make a commitment today to examine those passages and see how well your prayer life matches that of Paul!