Be devoted to payer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving
~ Colossians 4:2 ~
Mindful and meaningful prayer is an integral part of a disciplined and crucified Christian life. It is second to that of reading, meditating, and studying the scriptures. And in the Christian life we often speak of the importance of prayer as an integral spiritual discipline. One that ought to call our attention to serious reflection.
- If I am able to pray for things I desire, would they truly bring me happiness?
- Do I always know what is best for me when I pray?
- Am I merely praying to bargain with my Heavenly Father?
- Am I praying in order to instruct Him in times of personal struggle and despair?
Our Heavenly Father is listening and will hear every prayer of His children – even when our prayers are weak. Yet how come professing Christians appear to spend minimal time and effort devoted to prayer? This minimal effort rests on offering up a few words, sometimes telegraphically, to our Heavenly Father throughout the day. How is it that many of us professing Christians spend a few minutes alone in conversation with God?
Since our Heavenly Father is listening, desiring to hear from us, ought we to consider how significantly important our own personal desire to hear from Him outweighs His need to hear from us? Writing to the Church in Thessalonica, the Apostle Paul instructs them to pray without ceasing because this is the will of God in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18). And the will of Christ is established in the expectation of personal prayer. An expectation requiring sincere devotion in pursuing a Christlike life where prayer is an ongoing priority in a mindful and crucified Christian life. When we, as true disciples who come unto Christ and follow Him, make prayer priority – we are sacrificing time for it. Devoting ourselves over to an activity where we actively engage in restoring our broken relationship with our Heavenly Father.
Mindful and Meaningful Prayer is Relational
How do we build our faith and confidence on the sure foundation of Christ? How do we grow spiritually? When we came to believe in Jesus Christ, submitted ourselves over to the care of our Heavenly Father – we may have falsely concluded that all of our own personal issues, conflicts, and struggles find resolution. One is not able to give themselves over to denial of self, take up one’s cross, and do that which is necessary to transform themselves by the renewing of one’s mind if there is no desire and effort to seek after God. Mindful and meaningful prayer is how we grow, transform, and renew our minds.
We face unprecedented problems that defy easy solutions. Without mindful and meaningful prayer – we are not able to face those issues with clear and defined direction. Not able to receive clear direction and grow in faith. As Christians, we are reminded of how important prayer is to our relationship with our Heavenly Father. Because that which I pray for may not be what is best for me. I am only able to see a little way. My vision clouded by those pressing circumstances. My mind and thoughts are distracted. And while we may be familiar with the concept of prayer – we most certainly may have forgotten what true prayer requires. Faith in our Heavenly Father, and in who Jesus Christ is; and our need to come with contrition of spirit and brokenness of heart.
Mindful prayer and meditation become powerful tools for a mindful crucified Christian life because it is our way of communicating with our Heavenly Father. It is the type of prayer where we are ever-present focus within our daily life. Whether it is about great or small things, we devote our time and energy through prayer and meditation. Through this, we receive those promised spiritual blessings. These promised blessings are:
- Personal Insight, Clarity, and Vision that define concrete direction
- Wisdom and counsel regarding personal conflicts, struggles, and adversity
- Personal and meaningful revelation in how to apply gospel truths into our lives
- Renewal of strength and courage so that our hope and faith continue to grow and increase
Through conscious connection our relationship with Heavenly Father is restored through Jesus Christ. Whether it is a constant moment-by-moment silent conversation or a devoted time of solitude, reflection, and meditation.
Crucified with Christ through Mindful and Meaningful Prayer
Another aspect of a mindful and crucified Christian life concerns how prayer connects us to being crucified with Christ. Through prayer, we are disciplining ourselves to move away from our own will and desire so that we are able to live according to His will and desire. We put to death our own motivations, our own personal expectations, and even our own reasons and purposes. Losing our self-will and desire allows us to grow in confidence that when we speak with God – he listens. To Him, our voice matters and with the right attitude and perspective – He takes us seriously. Through our devotion of prayer and meditation, we enter into His Holy and Divine presence. There is no fear. We are assured in bringing our personal pains, confession of sin, gratitude and thankfulness, and petition for His grace and mercy.
Therefore, we are not able to blame God for every bad thing that may happen. Nor are we waiting for Him to provide all the good we desire. Those resentments, disappointments, and pride dissolve when we approach our Heavenly Father with sincerity and humility. This is because the promise is that before we venture to approach Him – our needs are already known. If the problems I am facing appear overwhelming and beyond my ability to cope, I will not explain them to my Heavenly Father as mere complaints and personal gripes. He already knows. Neither will I tell Him what I expect of Him regarding those things I am in need of – He already knows.
Hence, I am faced with something which is beyond my personal power and ability to resolve. Where there is a lack of understanding or insight. Confusion needing clarification. Or simply in need of some provisions and blessings. Coming to God in prayer and supplication helps me find confidence and assurance in knowing He stands ready to hear and respond to such needs.
Mindful Prayer is a Powerful Spiritual Discipline
Because prayer is a spiritual discipline, and activity, that allows us to focus intently on forming a deeper, more intimate connection with our Heavenly Father; mindfulness and meditative practice of praying means we do so with intention and purpose. And many times, our intention and purpose of engaging in prayer is due to personal suffering and adversity. Specifically, when we experience deep pain, our desire becomes deep in wanting to experience a full release that is bound up in compassion and presence of comfort. This may be due to the reality that such deep pains cause us to experience a sense of loneliness and disconnect. It opens us up to the reality of a sense of longing as we listen to our personal struggles that have given us cause to pray. The loneliness, the fear, the hurt – our longing desire brings us to the tender and compassionate presence of our Heavenly Father.
Mindful prayer becomes a powerful spiritual discipline because it opens us up to our personal experience for what it is. It also opens us up to understand God just as He is and how we see Him in every moment of our lives. Cultivating this ongoing awareness of God’s presence, through the gift of the Holy Spirit, opens the eyes of our heart. Without this awareness, we remain on autopilot. Unable to fully examine and evaluate our own motivations and desires. Our thoughts become closed where we easily lose perspective on the reality of our Heavenly Father’s presence. And if we remain unaware – we are pulled into those thoughts of the past that cause us consternation. As well as being pulled into the thoughts of the future where we tend to be full of anxiety and worry. Not only does it open us up to our personal experience and understanding of God – but it also requires us to be present.
As a powerful spiritual discipline, mindful prayer gives us a spiritual connection whereby we abide in Christ, and He abides in us (John 15:4). One that is learned overtime to where we cultivate a moment-to-moment connection with God. Giving us the ability to recognize when we are drifting from His presence.
Here are three ways mindful and meaningful prayer becomes a powerful spiritual discipline in our personal lives:
- Informal Mindful Awareness of our experience creates pathways to Him that empower ceaseless prayer
- Formal Meditation is a silent and open stance where we deepen our awareness of God and hear His voice
- Centering our thoughts, minds, and heart on Christ so that we are intentionally seeking God and His presence.
Our prayer moves from us speaking (whether vocally or through our own thoughts) to actively listening for the voice of God. It also moves us toward recognition of our own doubts, prejudices, and bias perceptions so that we are able to release them. This takes focused effort and attention so that we are able to remain spiritually receptive to what our Heavenly Father desires. Not only that, but it also helps us remain spiritually receptive to the Spirit in revealing unto us our own vulnerabilities, fears, doubts, and weaknesses.
Prayer is a powerful spiritual discipline. Couple prayer with meditation and fasting and one has developed a tool to assist in growing spiritually, increasing in faith, and enduring all things we may face in life. This is the reason the Apostle Paul wrote that one ought to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). It means our heart is inclined to prayer continually. And the more we are inclined to prayer, the greater our ability to recognize those answers, the wisdom of counsel, and the direction we are given in our lives.
Christ Established How We Ought to Pray
Jesus Christ taught us how to pray (Matthew 6:9-13). In recovery support meetings, people recite the Serenity Prayer. Catholics pray the Rosary. People of faith may even use prayer beads as a method of praying. Yet are we praying from deep within our heart, our soul, and are we mindful in how we pray?
Consider the basis for the Lord’s Prayer:
- Acknowledgement of our Heavenly Father and His Holiness
- Seek and Desire the Kingdom of God
- Seek after the Will of God
- Seek after Provisions and Petition for Blessings
- Seek forgiveness and grace
- Seek guidance and wisdom in order to forgive others
- Seek strength and courage to face temptation
- Seek protection and guidance during adversity
- Acknowledge Awareness of God’s divine power and authority
When I pray throughout the day, I may find myself falling into the habit of parroting words without being aware of their meaning. This blunts one of the most fundamental spiritual disciplines. As I pray, my focus is to meditate mindfully on the meaning of every word and phrase. My understanding will grow. My capability to realize the difference between shallow prayers by rote and memory and powerful and meaningful effectual prayer.
Mindful Prayer of a Crucified Christian Life Availeth Much
A final reason mindful prayer is a spiritual discipline in a crucified Christian life is because of the effectual power it has over our personal and spiritual lives. Consider what James 5:16 says: Therefore confess your sins one to another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The effectual prayer of a righteous person accomplishes much (The Lexham English Bible).
Powerful and effective prayers come from those who commit themselves over to a mindful and crucified Christian life. This is because our Heavenly Father is attentive when we engage in mindful and meaningful prayer (1 Peter 3:2). This is born out of our passion and desire to faithfully obey the Lord through a living faith that seeks His will continually.
We have a daily opportunity to develop and strengthen our faith through daily prayer, meditation, and scripture study. And it begins when we submit ourselves over to the care of our Heavenly Father. It begins when we center our faith on Jesus Christ and His infinite atonement. When you commit yourself over to the transformation and renewing of your mind (Romans 12:1-2) you become a true disciple of Christ– a living sacrifice who worships God in spirit and truth (John 4:24). Fashioned unto those good things our Heavenly Father has prepared for each one of us (Ephesians 2:10).
As we give ourselves over to the discipline of prayer – let us be mindful. Meditate on God’s will and recognize our need for spiritual direction. Because there are going to be emotional conflicts we have to deal with every day. Our relationships will have significant impact. How we view life and all things around us will take on whole new meanings. Yet, if we remain at a standstill expecting our problems and sufferings will miraculously disappear, we will experience disappointment and resentment toward God.
Today, let us faithfully pray with sincerity, humility, and confidence in that God listens intently and carefully to our voice. Our struggles every day will take on whole new forms because they stem from our decisions and behaviors. This is because of our personality flaws and mindsets that caused irrational reactions. Even if we conquer one aspect of our struggles, there is still much to learn and overcome as part of adjusting to the faithful and mindful spiritually enriching Christian life.
Through prayer, we are able to find strength to manage for today, and hope toward a better life tomorrow. It is not something we ought to make light of, or to utilize infrequently. Prayer is a daily communion with our Creator, Savior, and Healer.
Our very spiritual life will be in direct proportion to the quality of our prayer life. Because prayer changes us. Instead of ruminating things in our own mind, we turn them over to God. Those worries over certain decisions; we seek God’s guidance and wisdom. Daily prayer is a constant means of sharing things we may believe are insignificant and those that are most significant in our lives. Our supreme and Sovereign God is listening.
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