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Prayer changes things - mainly us

Maw Maw was a praying person. I remember as a child visiting at summer vacation and walking by her bedroom, peeping through the cracked door, seeing her sit on the side of her bed with head bowed. Her lips moved intently. Her brow crunched intensely. Sometimes she smiled, and sometimes tears ran down her cheeks. Her prayer times were not quick, passing events. They were dedicated times when she poured everything out until nothing was left.

Mom was a praying person. Late, after everyone in the house had retired for the evening, Mom retreated to her chair. She opened her Bible where she had left off the day before. In the stillness, she began reading. She paused and closed her eyes. Watching, I knew these were times for her and the Lord to converse. Before she finished, the Bible rested in her lap and the prayer continued long past. Her head rested on the back of the chair. She smiled gently. Peace overcame her.

My wife Kathy is a praying person. The first time I heard her pray, I looked up to see if Jesus was standing in the room. Her prayers are personal — intimate. Other than the times she voices our prayer when the family is together for a meal, or she and I join hearts in prayer for mutual concerns, I would be hard pressed to remember times I have watched her pray. Just like Jesus did, she steps away from the hurriedness of life to spend time alone with her Heavenly Father. But, when she emerges from time with her Lord, I can see it. The evidence she has talked with Jesus shows in her renewed focus to serve Him passionately. She walks upright. She has renewed vigor.

Jesus taught that prayer begins with the right attitude. His times of prayer were motivated by His love for the Father. It was a yearning to connect. The bond created in prayer was sustaining and life giving to Jesus –– like breathing air. Through prayer, Jesus made ready for the tasks given Him to glorify God.

In His model prayer, Jesus begins by focusing on relationship with God. To His children, He is our father. Jesus calls Abba (Daddy) and teaches that if we can give good gifts to our children, how much more will our Heavenly Father give His children.

The prayer He demonstrates to the disciples has been repeated millions of times, so many times that perhaps we fail to experience its power to bring us into an intimate place with God –– a place of rest, the space for restoration.

Reading in the Book of Luke, I recite the prayer, then close my eyes and utter the words from my heart: “Oh Abba, you are great and above all. There is none more loving than you! What you want is what I want.

“Like a child who needs a loving parent, I need you. I depend on you for all my needs.

“And like a child, I err. Please forgive me and change me to be the best version of me, the person you desire me to be right now. Free me from the burden of a hard heart that holds to hurt feelings. I want to forgive and soar with you.

“You are greater than the enemy who roams seeking to devour us.

You are mighty and bring victory to our lives.”

We have witnessed God answer prayer. We give God the glory for healing and provision. But just as great is when we ourselves are changed.

Drawing close to God, entering into His presence, transforms us. Our burdens become His to carry. His peace becomes our comfort. And His power becomes our strength. In prayer, He equips us and we leave able to be used.

Oh, to be a mighty and diligent praying person! To know that all is well because of communion with the Lord God, Abba Father. Best of all, I know –– I have witnessed –– that prayer changes the one who prays. Let’s resolve to be changed. Every day.

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