by Mariechen Jordaan
Acknowledging the fact that we cannot, but God can, is always a good place to start in prayer. Actually, that is one of the reasons we pray: because we know that we cannot but trust and believe in our Father who can. Prayer is a beautiful place of surrendering and also of realigning our hearts with God. However, not many of us experience prayer in this way. For most, prayer is just another thing we must do as Christians. We may find prayer boring, useless or tiring. Yet if we are honest with ourselves, there remains a burning desire within us to pray. Why is this? Why is there this turmoil within us regarding prayer, that even when we see it as a heavy thing, we still long to do it?
We long to have relationship with our Father. We want to partner with Him and we want to see His kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven. Nevertheless, we believe we must work very hard at this and do it in our own strength. We also believe we must pray the perfect prayers to get the perfect answers and furthermore feel like fools if we cannot pray for longer than ten minutes. This, however, brings us back to the first point, that prayer is where we realise we cannot, but God can. This is why the Lord has sent us the Helper. In other words, the Lord did not expect us to do it on our own or in our own strength in the first place. This is both liberating and exciting!
The Lord gave us the Holy Spirit to be with us forever (John 14:16). The Holy Spirit is constantly with us, to help us and to guide us. However, we must allow the Holy Spirit to help us and to guide us. How do we do this? Firstly, by asking the Holy Spirit and secondly, by surrendering: our ways, our efforts and our wills. Scripture says that we ask and do not receive because we ask both with the wrong motives, and according to our own desires (James 4:3). The Spirit wants to fill us with His desires, but we have to first surrender our fleshly desires.
‘Those who live according to the flesh, have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.’ Romans 8:5
Therefore, let us come with surrendered hearts before the Lord. Let us ask the Lord, as David did, to test our hearts and to create clean hearts within us. Let us allow God to reveal to us our fleshly desires, but even more so, let us allow Him to heal our wounds, bitterness, rejections and pain. The more consecrated our hearts, the more we will be able to pray according to His will. It is only through this consecration of our hearts that we will be able to grow and receive more in prayer what is on God’s heart. Not for our glory, but for His.