When my wife and I go on a date, I try lots of different ways to keep the conversation going. We just celebrated our 14th anniversary this past week (woot woot!), and after so long, it’s hard to find a topic we haven’t discussed. We’ve had conversations about mundane topics like paint color and origami. We’ve had conversations about politics, relationships, work, parenting, life, and death. When you’ve been with the same person for so long, finding a new topic takes work.
When we’re out to dinner alone, rather than succumb to the temptation to immerse ourselves in our phones I look for lulls and then I spring into action.
What was your favorite toy when you were 10?
What were your parents like when you were young?
Have you ever squirted milk from your nose?
Often the questions don’t lead anywhere deep. Suddenly discovering my wife’s favorite toy when she was 10 was a rubber duck might make me laugh at her (or admire her bravery), but it won’t really change how I feel about her. The depth comes from the conversation not the talking points.
That’s why prayer is so important too. God isn’t just interested in changing your circumstances (and he is). God wants you to know him. He wants your deliberate time, not just the leftover time in your day when your head hits the pillow. Taking time with God must be a decision you make, not a happy accident. If you’re married, imagine what your marriage would look like if you only spoke with your spouse with the same effort you pray.
There are lots of ways to pray, and over the coming weeks I’ll give you some examples. I will take some time to explain, and then I’ll show you how it works in my own life.
This week I’ll show you the body prayer. This is a prayer that I picked up about a year ago and one that I use regularly. I give Rich Nathan at Columbus Vineyard credit for this one. A body prayer goes like this: start at the top of your body and use different parts of your body to inspire prayer. Just make sure to include more than just asking for things. Make sure you take time to thank God, praise God, and submit to God. Then as you move through the body, be inspired in those ways as you speak with him.
Here’s a short example of the body prayer:
God, thanks for a body that works. I’m so glad I can walk and talk. Not everyone can, Lord, so I’m really grateful that I can.
Spirit of God, would you give me the mind of Christ? I want to think holy thoughts. I want to think about my life in the way Jesus does. (Romans 12:2, 1 Corinthians 2:16)
God, would you give me the mouth of Jesus? I want the words that come out to praise you and bless others. Forgive me for swearing when I’m angry. (James 3:1-12, Luke 6:45)
Holy Spirit, would you give me ears to hear you? I want to hear your voice and know it’s you. I’m sorry that I don’t always pay attention. (John 10:3-4, Luke 8:18)
Jesus, would you give me your shoulders? I want to carry the burdens you’ve given me. I want to carry the cross today. I want to be strong when others need me to carry them. (Matthew 16:24, Galatians 6:2)
God, would you give me the hands of Jesus? He touched so many people that were untouchable. He healed sick people. Could I do that? Give me your hands, Lord so that when I pray for others they receive your healing. (Mark 10:16, Matthew 8:3)
Jesus, give me your guts. I want to be courageous like you. I want to face down my enemies with conviction and my destiny with abandon. I want to know your truth and feel compassion for others. Give me your guts, Lord. (Matthew 9:36, Psalm 27:14)
Holy Spirit, give me the knees of Jesus. I want to kneel and pray when life is hard. I want my knees to show a deep connection with you. (Matthew 14:23, Luke 6:12)
God, give me the feet of Jesus. I want to go where you send me. (Deuteronomy 31:6, Matthew 10:7-8)
Notice that I incorporated the elements I mentioned earlier.
Thank God – take time to be grateful.
Praise God – take time to tell him how awesome he is.
Submit to God – take time to honor what God wants from you and confess when you don’t give it to him.
A conversation about prayer wouldn’t be complete without discussing the wrong way to pray. The wrong way to pray is not doing it at all. Keep the conversation going, Friend. The Lord isn’t as concerned with the questions or the style. What he wants most is time with you.
A mentor wisely told me once, “The key to prayer is knowing that God doesn’t always change my circumstances, but he always changes me.”
Have you ever heard of the body prayer before? I’d love for you to try this out and let me know what your time with God was like. Please leave a comment below with your experience and thoughts.