Come As You Are...How to Approach God in Prayer
Prayer is one of our most powerful weapons because it gives us a direct line to our Father in Heaven.
When Jesus died for our sins, a most miraculous occurrence took place and is recorded in Matthew 27:51. This verse says "Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom..."
Before I dive into how to approach God, I want to discuss a couple of things first:
Why it is important to understand the significance of the veil tearing in two
Reasons why prayer is so important
The Importance of the Veil Being Torn in Two
There is great significance in the temple veil being torn in two from top to bottom.
Before Jesus, the only connection to the Father in Heaven was through the High Priests. The High Priest would enter into the Holy of Holies which was inside the temple. The Holy of Holies (or the Most Holy Place) was the innermost and most sacred area inside the temple and was separated from the rest of the temple by a large veil.
Once a year on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), the High Priest entered the Holy of Holies to burn incense and sprinkle the blood of the sacrifice on the mercy seat as an act of atonement for the sins of the Nation of Israel.
For many centuries, people had to rely on the High Priest to go to God for forgiveness of sin, for requests and instructions. But...when the veil was torn in two, at the time of Jesus' death, it signified that believers now had a direct line of contact with the Lord and no longer needed a High Priest to represent them.
Knowing that we have direct access to our Creator should be of great comfort to all believers. We can go to the Father in prayer without anyone guiding us or doing it on our behalf.
Four Reasons Why Prayer is Important
In a survey done in 2014 by Pew Research Center, 55% of Americans said that they pray everyday. That's a decent percentage, but imagine how impactful our prayers could be if that number was closer to 75%...to 100%.....
With that being said, I want to list a few reasons why prayer is so important. Hopefully these reasons will influence some people to pray more frequently!!
1. Prayer Keeps Us Close to God
How do you get to know someone better and better? You communicate with them and you do it often. If you don't communicate with God, you may never really understand His nature. Don't ever forget that God knows us better than we know ourselves, and it's up to us to seek Him so that we can learn who He is....and prayer is one of the ways to do this.
God already knows everything about us and exactly what we need and when we need it. "For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him" (Matthew 6:8).
You may ask....if God knows what we need and when we need it, why even pray??? I'm glad you asked. This leads me to reason number two...
2. Prayer Builds Faith
The more we pray and see the answers to our prayers, the more our faith will increase.
In fact, make it a point to ask God regularly to increase your faith. Because God wants us to have great faith, (even more so than we may want) this is a prayer that He will certainly answer!!
Even the Disciples said to the Lord "Increase our faith." (Luke 17:5).
3. Prayer Helps Keep Us in Submission to God
When we are on our knees praying to the Lord to guide and lead us in our daily lives, we are in submission to Him. Letting go and letting God have His way with our lives is humbling ourselves to His will....and His will for us is far better than anything we can dream up.
Submission to God is what's going to keep us on the path that HE ordains for us. Praying for His will to be done is in the will of God for each of our lives.
4. Prayer Keeps Our Minds on God
God wants to be on our minds all day, every day.
Life is busy for most of us, so it's important to keep Jesus as our focus. I always start my day thanking the Lord for waking me up. Once I am out of bed and moving, I turn to Him in prayer. This sets the tone for my day.
When we start our days with Him on our mind it is impossible not to think about Him all day. Keeping God on your mind is important for a few reasons:
When you pray and talk to God throughout the day you will begin to notice Him all around you.
No matter what you may face throughout your day, He will fill you with peace, calm, and strength to get through it.
As you ask God’s guidance when faced with decisions, you’ll learn to hear his response.
(If you would like more ways to focus on Jesus throughout your day, rad my blog post: "Seven Ways to Keep Your Focus on Jesus" )
How to Approach God in Prayer
Although prayer is one of the most powerful weapons in our lives, sometimes it can be hard to pray. Maybe it's just that we can't find the right words or even find the desire to pray, especially when things are rough or we are in times of trial.
On the other hand, sometimes things are going so well that we just simply forget to stop and pray and give thanks to God for how awesome things are going and how blessed we truly are.
It's important to make prayer a daily focus, no matter the
circumstances you're in.
I don't want to mislead anyone. There isn't a list of do's and don'ts when it comes to prayer. Approaching God in prayer is a personal experience between you and your Heavenly Father.
I do want to look at the first verse of three Psalms to compare some differences in the way God is approached by the Psalmists.
Psalm 61:1 - "Hear my cry, O God; Attend to my prayer."
Psalm 62:1 - "Truly my soul silently waits for God; From Him comes my salvation."
Psalm 66:1 - Make a joyful shout to God, all the earth!"
In these three Psalms we see three different ways in which the Psalmist approaches God. What does this tell you?
Because we face many different circumstances in life, our prayers will reflect what we are facing at the time. Good or bad doesn't matter, what matters is that we are taking everything to the throne of God.
In Psalm 61, the Psalmist is crying out to the Lord. He knows that his eternal protection comes from God and from Him alone. In Psalm 62, the Psalmist goes silently before the Lord and waits for the salvation from his enemies that only God can provide. And finally in Psalm 66, the Psalmist is joyfully shouting to the Lord for His awesome works.
These three Psalms show us three different ways of approaching God. So, what can we learn from this?
Come as You Are:
Many people use the words "come as you are" to describe salvation and yes, God will accept you just as you are, no matter where you are in life.
(If you want to know more about being saved and becoming a Christian, read my blog post: "What is Christianity?")
In regards to prayer, I believe these words "come as you are" are also effective. No matter how you feel - happy, angry, frustrated, joyful, annoyed - (fill in the blank, it doesn't matter) GO TO GOD.
You can't hide from God, He knows everything about you. He knows what you're going through, and even where you're headed. So don't fake it with God. If you're angry, tell Him. If you're sad, cry out to Him. If you're overwhelmed, lay your burdens at His feet. If you're happy, praise Him.
Be yourself with God. Be honest about everything. Trust me, He knows and He cares. Lay everything out on the table. Sometimes just talking it out will make all the difference. Even Jacob had to wrestle it out with God (see Genesis chapter 32).
Remember, God already knows the truth of EVERY matter. There is no need for us to skirt around it at any time, let alone in His presence.
Finally, humble yourself before the Lord. There is no greater act of submission than when you are humble before Him. In fact, James tells us to "Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up" (James 4:10).
Sometimes all it takes is humility to move the heart of God. When you realize that you can do nothing without Him, your entire world can and will change.
(If you'd like more information on Humility, read my blog post: "5 Reasons to Strive for Humility" which includes a free scripture study.)
Prayer is always the answer in every situation. In good times and in bad, prayer changes things. Remember, God's not only hears our prayers, but He answers them. Not only that, God always keeps His promises and 2 Corinthians 1:20 reassures us that "For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us."