Stone Soup for Five: Do you have 5 good reasons for that prayer request? Prayer School session one!

Do you have 5 good reasons for that prayer request? Prayer School session one!



I've been frustrated for years because prayer is a hard discipline that I just wasn't getting.  Prayer for me wasn't communing with God and it definitely wasn't joyous.  It was boring, hard, and a lot like doing long division in 6th grade.  I knew it was good for me, but I was definitely missing something... was I the only one who didn't get how to pray?  And if God is God and knows everything, why should I even bother?

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I was frustrated with a lot of books on prayer that tell WHAT prayer is but not HOW to pray.  I was tired of reading "learn to pray by praying."  And though I got that I needed to put it into action, I still needed direction.
  • I'm practical
  • hands on
  • add a bullet point list and you've got me kind of girl.  
And nothing I could find really had that kind of hands-on application I needed.

I've searched Amazon, used bookstores, and friends' book shelves and compiled recommendations and exciting things I've been learning.  Today I want to focus on a book by Joni Earckson Tada called A Quiet Place in a Crazy World.  And we're going to practice one of her techniques:

Before I give you the assignment, I'll give you a bad example (my own prayer request) and a good example (Joni's example) of how to pray five good reasons.

My BAD example:

My oldest son (18 years old at the time and at the age of invincibility) headed out on an 10 day road trip with three of his friends.  They were visiting 4+ states and the whole trip was planned by them.  Of course I was thinking traffic accidents, dehydration in the desert, death by dismemberment in the Grand Canyon, and Parkour injuries inspired by dubstep playlists and epic stunts.  So naturally, my prayers were pleading with God to protect them despite themselves, to provide safety, not let them get seriously injured or arrested ("You're old enough to be tried as an adult now!).

But, after reading the book, I put this prayer in light of Joni's "5 good reasons" list and I realized that 98% of my reasons for praying that way were because of fear and my own selfishness.
I didn't want them to be hurt, because it will hurt me.  I didn't want them to do x, y, z, because danger...you get the picture.

Then I remembered Francis Chan speaking to this same issue in his book Crazy Love:
"Now, I'm not saying it is wrong to pray for God's protection, but I am questioning neglect of whatever God's best is, whatever would bring God the most glory, or whatever would accomplish His purposes in our lives and in the world...  Would you be willing to pray this prayer?  God, bring me closer to You during this trip, whatever it takes..."

Ouch.  




Now, the GOOD example:

We see this same kind of humble and submissive arguing throughout the Bible too.  Abraham, Job, David are just a few.  In Joni's example, her prayer was for her neighbor with disabilities and I love how she prayed through truth she knew about God in her 5 good reasons.
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Reason #1:  Lord, you were compassionate toward disabled people when You walked on earth and You met their needs.  Please meet the needs of my friend that way.

She was pointing out Jesus' actions and character and applying them to her request.
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Reason #2:  Lord, You promised to feed the ravens and clothe the flowers of the field.  My disabled neighbor has basic needs like that, and You care much more for her than You do for the birds and flowers.

Here Joni points out and prays through His promises.
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Reason #3:  Lord, my neighbor is in need of seeing and feeling Your personal care.  A helper could be Your "hands" to her.

Here, she is pointing out God's blessing that He bestows on others in serving and how that can bring Him glory.
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Reason #4:  Lord, You cared about "the least of them," and my disabled neighbor certainly qualifies under that category!  Please meet her need as an evidence of Your concern for the least of them.

She points out more of God's character based on how he gave grace, mercy, and love to others while here on earth.
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Reason #5:  Lord, the rest of my neighbors will be inspired and encouraged to help, and they may even "know we are Christians by our love for one another."

She's praying that we can behave in a loving and caring manner to encourage others and glorify God in our witness.



So now my prayer for my son has changed... in fact, my prayer requests for just about everything have started to change!  Now it's your turn.

Assignment:

Get out a piece of paper or your prayer notebook and think through five good reasons (consistent with truths you know about God) and write them out then pray through them.

See if by carefully ordering your request like this, it helps you drill down to the deeper, most important issues.

See if it helps you learn more about God as you focus on His promises, His character, and His kingdom.

Try it and see if it releases fear...
Comforts you...
Encourages you...
Excites you...

Share your insights below so others can also be encouraged and we can learn from each other!

Other prayer posts you might like:











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20 comments:

  1. Wow, Kari! This is really challenging. Thanks for this. I can't wait to try it.

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    1. Do it Samantha! And then let me know how it goes. It is REALLY stretching, but powerful!

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  2. Thank you for this series and this post. I too struggle with prayer. I will try to do this & I will let you know what happens :-)

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    1. Yes! Keep me updated! I'd love to hear!

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  3. I'm in, and I'll let you know how it goes! Thank you for this post! Last year (?), I watched your video on making a prayer journal and made one. That was a major turning point in my prayer life; it has been a catalyst for more consistent and focused prayer. But like you, I want to go deeper and really "get" this prayer thing.

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    1. The prayer journal was a turning point for me too! Yes, I hear your cry. Isn't it amazing that when we take one small step in obedience, God totally amps up the desire to learn even more about Him? Love it!

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  4. Oh, man, this is timely! I'm going to make time to do this during my kid's rest time. Thank you for this series, Kari!

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  5. Wow Kari, thank you for this. I am praying for my sister who is at a 4 week retreat working on her relationship with food, and I have been looking for a really good meaty way to pray for her and be her cheerleader. Thanks for this great help!

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    1. Wonderful! Yes, it's been completely eye-opening to me and glad it helps you get specific with your prayers and I'm sure your sister will love it!

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  6. I do like the idea of doing this, but it seems overwhelming if I did this for every prayer request. I write down weekly requests in my prayer journal and this week alone I have over 20 requests. I don't have enough time in the day to write down 5 reasons for every request. Any thought because I do really like the idea of reassuring myself of all of God's character qualities.
    Thanks, Michelle

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    1. Maybe you pick one or two of those requests and do this with those. Like you I have a lot of prayer requests, but I am thinking I will pick one to really focus on this week (not that I won't pray for the others) and try this with that one.

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    2. Definitely agree with Barbara, just one of the major pressing ones is a great start. I think just doing this with one opens your eyes to praying more like this naturally for your other requests. Remember there is not one specific right way to pray, and just the fact that you are praying is great! I'm just trying to bring in other aspects of prayer that I'm learning. Use what you can, but whatever you decide, keep praying!

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  7. I love that you're doing this series. I definitely need it. I'm wondering, though, if I'm the only one who is a little uncomfortable with reminding God of His attributes. I've read many places that it's an excellent way to pray but sometimes it feels like I'm saying, "God, you're (this) so you have to do (this).

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    1. I will actually get to this specifically in a different post, but I will say that I don't think it's wrong to point out God's promises/attributes to Him in our prayers. So many times I see that in the Bible. This year I'm working through Psalm 119 and over and over the psalmist points out God's attributes and asks God to move based on that. "revive me, according to Thy Word... Strengthen me according to Thy word... Do not put me to shame... Do not forsake me utterly... Deal bountifully with Thy servant that I may live and keep Thy word." I think it's not for God's benefit or calling Him out and daring Him to have a plan different from ours. I think it's for OUR benefit. I love what Joni says about it: "We are to involve ourselves in our prayers, to test our thoughts in order to see if a thing is truly of the Lord and His will." and Spurgeon says "He who prays withour fervency does not pray at all. We cannot commune with God, who is a consuming fire, if there is no fire in our prayers." Just like my example above, maybe the Lord's will isn't to protect my son but to grow him through trials, pain, or suffering. I don't want to be praying against His will, so reminding myself of His promises and His character helps me bend my will to His and release the fear and false control I struggle with. I think this is a very valid point though, and a very real struggle many people have (one of my friends said the same thing). But I don't think that holding His word up to Him and asking Him to be faithful is the same as challenging Him to do what you want. In fact, one of the things I'm trying to teach my boys to do is occasionally convince me why I should do something. If they have a request, but I have reasons (not strong reasons, but reasons) to say no, I want them to explain to me in an orderly way why they should do what they want to do. Present their case to me. I do it so they can think through their motives, their reasons, and then articulate it to me. It makes me happy to hear them present their requests that way... Does that help? What do you think?

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    2. Yes, thanks, that does help. I'm looking forward to the rest of what you're learning too. Glad we're on the same journey!

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  8. Hi Kari, Thank you for your post. I look forward to reading more. I have struggled with prayer, and journals and such have never helped much because I couldn't keep it up and would then feel like I was failing. Recently - I looked at all the Hebrew words for prayer and there are so many and include ideas like praise, thankfulness, intreaty, pursuit, celebrate, ponder, cry aloud, converse, adoration, request, prostrate, course of life, intercession. Sometimes we may think that in order for a prayer to be a prayer, we have to be totally conscious of what we are doing and saying, and maybe say it all at once in one long outburst, but maybe it is more like living that way - being aware of a constant relationship - keeping the conversation going no matter what life is giving you, whenever and wherever, with a few words or many, being sure to include the mediation and pondering on God's words to us.

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    1. I love this. Yes, there are so many ways to pray and so many different ways we can talk with God! I'm still constantly amazed that God WANTS to communicate with me and I will never tire of all the ways I can talk to Him! Wonderful thoughts here! Thank you!

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  9. You had me at "Do you stink at prayer?" in my inbox. This is a wonderful motivator to work through personal challenges with prayer. I struggle with this all the time! And agreed, bullet points give me laser focus!

    I'd love to learn more about how to pray myself and, most important, to be an example and teacher of that to my son. (10yr)
    It's hard to sort through his struggle with prayer when I struggle myself...but not for lack of trying! Thank you for this series.

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    1. Love that you're a fellow "bullet pointer!" I'm excited to learn this together with you!

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