The Bible clearly teaches that conversion—which we all need—requires prayer first of all, so that our minds can be renewed. (See Romans 12: 1, 2, and John 15, for examples.)
But prayer is often thought of as just asking God for this or that, anything from “Help me pass this test!” to “Get me a new job or (boy or girl) friend”, to “Please heal Aunt Mildred’s high blood pressure.”
Prayer, however, is most basically a dialogue with God, honest self-disclosure and careful listening to the Holy Spirit’s whispers and nudges. I believe that’s why Jesus would sometimes spend whole nights praying—He was listening to the Father, and getting ideas and directions for the next day.
As sinful humans we need to do this, too, but more: confess our weaknesses, sins, and failures, and ask for new strength and direction. I truly believe that if millions of parents did this, they would not abandon their families to go work overseas, with all the family destructiveness and damage to children that are involved. We need to pray—What is your will, oh God?
The Seeker’s Prayer
But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and began to sink. Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying, “O man of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. acMatt. 14:30,31
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?
Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?…
But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matt. 6: 33
Self: Lord, your teaching isn’t easy to embrace,
and threatens to lead me where I don’t want to go.
Why, when I want to follow, does something want to race
away and drag me back where I just watch the daily show?
(And be safe: why does it feel safer to hold on to the stuff
of now than to simply trust in you? Don’t I have enough?!)
Why, when on the edge of plunging towards your realm,
does fallacious fear try to turn my eyes from You,
and grab my life’s helm
and steer me to a shallow cove where storms can’t come?
Lord, your radical openness speaks of “cross”
and scares me numb.
And like Peter, I have sunk—enough.
Save me, Lord, from my fears
and from my self, and pull me back
into the boat to join my peers,
to hide there ‘til I learn to listen
to your beckoning voice again,
and then step out o’er savage deeps to where your kingdom’s coming in.
Jesus: My son, I know all about your doubt and fear,
and like the world, at times you think my kingdom queer;
you think it’s upside down. You’ve been told to build
your castle-life, monetary brick by brick,
success on success; they even tell you
when to speak, or more often, just be still.
The world says this is all you have,
so savor what can fill your soul before you’re dead.
This world of mine, it doesn’t know me.
Though it comes from me, it’s marred by sin and conflict,
howling wind and restless seas, the watery depths of death.
But you, I want to bend you to my realm,
where forgiveness conquers fear, and fighting will flee away;
where people listen to and prayerfully bear the burdens of each other.
There money ministers my grace, time is used
to teach my little ones to toss their toys and joys
to one another, and eternal love flows from my cross, wiping away all tears.
And I beckon through the loads of your neighbor, sister, brother. —HPK
1-See Luke 12:15-21. 2- I John 2:15-17. 3- Rev. 21:4. 4- Matt. 25:31-40.