Organize Your Attitude #5
The advice to begin our days with prayer is often heard, and rightly so. We need grace and clarity to face our duties with faith, love, and patience.
We do well to heed that advice.
But prayer is also something we can weave into everything we do, as 1 Thessalonians tells us, “pray without ceasing.”
The Heidelberg Catechism asks a question I think we’ve all felt, whether or not we’ve said it out loud:
Why do Christians need to pray?
Their answer, a summary of biblical teaching on prayer, is concise and convicting:
Because prayer is the most important part of the thankfulness God requires of us.
And also because God gives His Holy Spirit only to those who pray continually and groan inwardly, asking God for these gifts and thanking Him for them.
Pray with thankfulness
Thankfulness comes up twice in this short answer because it comes up so much more in Scripture. We are told to pray with thankfulness even when we’re making petitions:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
The promised peace is for those who request with thanksgiving.
Anxiety and worry are attitudes we need to rid ourselves of. Peace and joy (among others) are the fruits of the Holy Spirit, the attitudes of Christ we are to put on. God’s peace, by the Holy Spirit, guards our hearts, changes our attitudes, when we pray with thanksgiving.
Having peace and joy is not something we must do on our own before we present our requests, but something we ask for with thanksgiving and in the moment – all the moments, the many moments – we need it.
Once before everyone is up doesn’t cut it – ask me how I know.
Rather, we are to thank God for the moment He’s given us, even if it contains spilled milk or folded laundry knocked over or more dirty dishes. His goal is our sanctification, not a perfectly orderly home where no one ever steps out of line (our lines, thankyouverymuch).
We feel messed with because we need our lines messed with so we can grow in grace and patience and kindness and turn over our own will and accept His.
For that, we can thank Him.
Pray trusting the grace
But so often when we do pray, we pray not asking for the grace to handle our situation the way God would want us to, but we pray that the cross be removed from us utterly. It’s understandable. Christ prayed that prayer, also. But the answer was no.
If we want the answer to be yes, then we must pray that God will give us love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control – because that’s what He’s trying to work in us, and we’ll be asking according to His will.
Then buckle up, because we’ll be given situations where we’ll have to actually practice those attitudes and responses. And we realize, “Now, Lord, when I said I wanted patience, what I actually meant was that I wanted you to remove the need for patience from my life.” He knows. And He knows better what you need. We can trust Him, thank Him, and grab the grace He sends.
For more, read this wonderful article by Rachel Jankovic: “Grace on the Fly.” It’s in my binder and in my Evernote and I often read it weekly.