Praying is hard. We often pray corporately in worship, personally out of a plea for pain or worry to pass, intercession for others, in lament for loved ones or tragedies, and sometimes selfishly in bargaining or in a wishing manner.
As people of faith, we know prayer matters, and somehow through God, it works. If we pray for solace, healing, and peace for others (intercession) our prayers can reflect our own expectations or even an attempt to ignore our expectations, creating an anxiety loop about praying the right way (so we might avoid it altogether).
Looking in Matthew
How do you honestly pray for someone else? Like in Matthew 5 when Jesus tells us to pray for those who persecute us? And then if you keep reading in Matthew 6 (v. 2-13) you get instructions about praying in secret and how to pray (what we call the Lord’s Prayer).
Matthew’s Gospel ties together your heart and your actions, and does the same with prayer. If you read all of chapters 5-7 in Matthew (please do!), on a first read you
might say something like – ‘okay, I get it, do not be showy and self-aggrandizing.’
Looking in your heart
The deeper meaning though, with prayer and other spiritual practices is that your actions define your heart. Is authentically praying hard? Yes, but you do it and then follow up. It creates for a busy life, praying for someone who is ill, and then visiting them continuously. Praying for someone who wronged you at work, and then working with them again. Praying you would learn how to be a better family member for your loved ones, and then seeking resources to educate yourself.
Jesus tells us this is the path we take, and we should not worry about how busy it makes us – because God will both care for us and reward us for following Jesus’ words.
So when you pray next, in whatever capacity (corporate, intercession, connecting with God, asking for forgiveness, etc.) try also following through in some manner or another. Turn your prayer into a tangible action. If nothing else, write down your prayer in a journal, or in a reminder on your phone and look at it again tomorrow and the day after tomorrow. Do not let your prayer fly away from you, let it be rooted in your heart and see its fruits in your life.