Dandelions—the bane of many homeowners who strive for manicured lawns. Adults see them as an irritation. A nuisance.
But children see dandelions as a source of unlimited potential. Wishes, hopes and dreams wrapped up in the seeds of a wildflower.
When you were a child, did you ever pluck a dandelion puff to make a wish? Carefully, of course, because you didn't want to waste even one feathery seed. After all, the one seed that dropped prematurely might have been the one to carry your wish to heaven.
Then we grow up and face reality ... or do we?
How often do we, as adults, view prayer the way children view dandelion puffs? We close our eyes tight, carefully pick the "right" words and fling them to heaven, wishing and hoping God will say yes to our request.
Is that how prayer works?
Not according to the Bible.
Most of us have grown up with a definition of prayer that is incomplete. How many times have we defined prayer as "talking to God"? But prayer is more than just presenting our requests and wishes to God. We don't just talk to Him, we have conversation with Him.
This means we talk ... and we listen. We listen as God speaks to us through His Word. We listen as the Holy Spirit prompts us to act according to His leading.
Prayer is more than just presenting our desires to God. It's about aligning our thoughts with His thoughts. Our heart with His heart. Our will with His will.
The ultimate goal is not to change God's mind, but to change ours.
So as summer moves into fall, are you watching the wishes, hopes and dreams of the summer drift away on passing autumn breezes? Does it seem as if the heavens are made of brass, causing your prayers to hit the ceiling and drop back to earth in mockery of your desires?
Biblical Guidance for Prayer
Unlike dandelion puffs which depend on the whims of the wind, prayer is never futile. But God does give us some guidance for effective prayer:
A – Jesus tells us to abide in Him and have His words abide in us (John 15:7).
B – Believe when we pray (Mark 11:24).
C – Come with confidence (Heb. 4:16).
D – Don't doubt (James 1:6).
E – Don't use empty phrases (Matt. 6:7).
F – Focus on who God is, not on your circumstances (Isa. 26:3).
G – Expect God to show you great things (Jer. 33:3).
H – Follow the leading of the Holy Spirit in your prayer (Jude 1:20).
I – Intercede for others (1 Tim. 2:1-2).
J – Ask in Jesus' name—would Jesus ask for what you're asking for? (John 14:13).
K – If possible, kneel, letting your physical position reflect your heart (Eph. 3:14).
L – Listen for the Lord's call (1 Sam. 3:4).
M – Ask with right motives (James 4:3).
N – Know that the Lord is near to all who call on Him in truth (Ps.145:18).
O – Before we pray, are we obeying what we already know? (1 John 3:22).
P – Persevere in prayer (Luke 18:1-8).
Q – Pray without quarreling with brothers in Christ (1 Tim. 2:8).
R – Rejoice regardless of our circumstances (1 Thess. 5:16).
S – Seek His presence (1 Chron. 16:11).
T – Pray with thanksgiving (Phil. 4:6-7).
U – Pray in unity with other believers (Acts 1:14).
V – ?
W – Know where your help comes from (Ps. 121:1).
X – EXamine your heart (Ps. 66:18).
Y – ?
Z – ?
Which of these verses is God speaking to your heart about today?
Here's a challenge for you...
Can you find a relevant verse for the letters V, Y and Z?
Ava Pennington is a writer, speaker and Bible teacher. She writes for nationally circulated magazines and is published in 32 anthologies, including 25 Chicken Soup for the Soul books. She also authored Daily Reflections on the Names of God: A Devotional, endorsed by Kay Arthur. Learn more at AvaWrites.com.
This article originally appeared at avawrites.com.
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