Praying From The Heart by Kim Reisman
And so they reached Jericho. Later, as Jesus and his disciples left town, a great crowd was following. A blind beggar named Bartimaeus (son of Timaeus) was sitting beside the road as Jesus was going by. When Bartimaeus heard that Jesus from Nazareth was nearby, he began to shout out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” “Be quiet!” some of the people yelled at him. But he only shouted louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” When Jesus heard him, he stopped and said, “Tell him to come here.” So they called the blind man. “Cheer up,” they said, “Come on, he’s calling you!” Bartimaeus threw aside his coat, jumped up, and came to Jesus. “What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked. “Teacher,” the blind man said, “I want to see!” And Jesus said to him, “Go your way. Your faith has healed you.” And instantly the blind man could see! Then he followed Jesus down the road. (Mark 10:46-52, NLT)
Prayer is a powerful and productive force in our lives. It allows us to join with God in working not only in our own lives but also in the lives of others. The reverse is true as well. Prayer invites God to join with us in the unfolding of our lives and the lives of those around us. Unfortunately, we often overlook prayer as a connection to God and a source of direction and strength. Instead, we operate as though we were on our own.
It’s certainly true that God isn’t some cosmic waiter standing ready to jump at our beck and call. Our relationship with God is not one where we stand with power and look either across or down at God, making demands at every turn of our whim or fancy. Yet, as we appropriately lift our eyes to God, we will find God waiting with loving anticipation for us to pour out our deepest desires and dreams to him. Even more, we will discover that God longs to respond to those desires and dreams as well.
In The Life of Christian Devotion, William Law wrote,
All outward power that we exercise in the things about us is but as a shadow in comparison of that inward power that resides in our will, imagination, and desires… Our desire is not only thus powerful and productive of real effects, but it is always alive, always working and creating in us… And here lies the ground of the great efficacy of prayer, which when it is the prayer of the heart, the prayer of faith, has a kindling and creating power, and forms and transforms the soul into every thing that its desires reach after… It opens, extends, and moves that in us which has its being and motion in and with the divine nature, and so brings us into real union and communion with God.*
Law’s language can be difficult, but his message is simple. When we are connected to God through prayer, our wills, our imaginations, our desires can have powerful results. Prayer is a creating power that, when in communion with God, forms and transform us. God desires to answer the prayers of our hearts.
The world would have us believe that we are left to our own devices, with little power beyond ourselves. Society encourages us to look within ourselves. The message is that there is no truth outside our own personal experience or opinion and that should be enough to guide us. Social media encourages us to look to popular culture, to influencers and celebrities for answers to life’s difficult questions. They are the ones who can tell us how to manage the competing demands and commitments of daily life or guide us in determining how our faith fits the larger picture of our lives. The reality, however, is that the ultimate power to face all those issues is right before us, quietly waiting to be invited into the discussion.
When Jesus encountered people in his ministry, frequently he ask them, “What do you want?” Only when they responded with the prayer of their heart – “Teacher, I want to see!” – did he act on their desire. Jesus assured us that God knows our needs before we even ask; and yet, that knowledge never preempts the asking process. If we long to know God, we must be willing to tell God exactly that – I want to know you. Only then we will encounter the kindling and creating power of prayer that will not only draw us into communion with God but will also open us to God’s transforming energy in our lives.
As you pray and fast this month, I encourage you to reflect on the prayers of your heart. I pray that you will make those prayers known to God remembering that when we are connected to God through prayer, our wills, our imaginations, and our desires can have powerful results. Channel that power in the coming days.
*William Law, The Life of Christian Devotion, Abingdon; pp 85-86