“Mommy, NEED milk!”
“Mommy, NEED cashews!”
“Mommy, NEED down!”
No matter how promptly I try to attend to Baby D’s needs at the dining table, he’s always a step ahead of me, telling me what he thinks he needs and how to do things. As amusing as it is at first – aren’t all two-year-olds absolutely adorable even if they’re being bratty? – it quickly becomes obnoxious. I want to throw my hands in the air, exasperated, and ask him, “After more than 11 years of parenting, don’t you trust me to take care of you?”
And in those moments, I suddenly hear myself in Baby D’s exclamations.
“Lord, I NEED the kids to be healthy!”
“Lord, we NEED Turbo’s blood sugar to come back down!”
“Lord, I NEED wisdom!”
On and on goes my list.
I can only imagine that He, after having existed from Eternity Past and having spoken the world into being from nothing, feels like saying to me, “Don’t you realize that I’ve cared for you since before you were born? Didn’t I redeem you with the blood of My own Son? Don’t you know that I know your needs – and how I plan to provide for them – before you’re ever aware of them?”
I’ve been feeling extra “needy” lately, and my prayer life reflects it with all of my requests for one thing or another. I don’t feel bad about asking for anything of the Lord. After all, we’re commanded to come boldly before the Throne for mercy and grace in our time of need (see Hebrews 4:16), and my requests are legitimate. I ask for wisdom, for health, for the salvation of a friend or family member, for peace for someone who’s struggling, etc. But I’ve also been convicted to take time to worship the Lord in prayer, to acknowledge His goodness, strength, mercy, and love before simply diving in with my to-do list of necessities.
Many days after enduring D’s demands, he’ll run up to me out of the blue, give me a kiss, and just as quickly return to playing again. I love those moments. I would guess that my Heavenly Father loves to be honored in a similar way. While He doesn’t need the pitiful bit of praise I can offer Him, He does take delight in it just the way I delight in D’s unsolicited affection.
So, as often as I can remember, I try to praise and thank Him before diving into my list of requests (praying through some of the Psalms is a great way to do this). And I also try to thank Him afterward for answering my prayers, whether or not He’s chosen to answer them in the way that I’d hoped.
Truthfully, remembering these other elements when praying doesn’t come naturally to me. I like to pray Nehemiah prayers (quick prayers right on the spot) and move on to the next item on my agenda for the day. Worshiping the Lord by savoring my time spent in prayer with Him is outside of my comfort zone, but the more I do so, the more I’m learning to deepen my prayer life. It’s not perfect, but I am growing. And that’s exciting to me.
There will always be times when Nehemiah prayers are perfectly acceptable, but I am welcoming this new challenge to truly spend time in prayer with the Savior as much as I am able. I still need wisdom; still need better blood sugar control; and still need health for my family, but my new approach to prayer is deepening my faith and growing my trust in a perfectly-trust-able God. Although I am doing it because I feel that it is honoring to Him, I am gaining equal benefit on my part, too.
Your turn: Do you spend time praising the Lord when you pray? What has helped you to enrich your prayer life?