More good thoughts about prayer from Bill Hybels – Pastor of Willow Creek Church near Chicago – These are not from his book as was last week. As I reflected, I realize that I mostly pray “safe” prayers. here’s what he has to say…
What kind of prayers do you pray? Do you ask for protection as you drive to work? Do you recite a prayer before breakfast or dinner? Do you pray with your kids at bedtime or regularly with a friend as you walk?
Prayer is a crucial part of our spiritual growth. Maybe if we realized that God does listen when we pray (Jer. 29:11-13), we’d treat the power of prayer with even more awe and a grateful spirit.
If you want to mature as a Christ follower, maybe it’s time you moved beyond “safe” prayers to “dangerous” prayers.
Each day we pray all kinds of prayers—from the safe or self-serving to the risky and exciting. When was the last time you prayed a “dangerous” prayer—a prayer that put your faith on the line and opened you up to God in a way you’ve never done before?
God loves to hear dangerous prayers—the kind of prayers that help us grow as Christians. If you’ve been keeping God at a safe distance in your prayer life, try praying one of the following “dangerous” prayers—and see how God in his wisdom will answer it:
Search me. There’s an old adage that says, “Don’t ask the question if you’re not ready to hear the answer.” A “search me” prayer is dangerous because when you ask God to search your heart for anything that displeases him, he will. So don’t pray a “search me” prayer unless you’re ready for that kind of exposure!
Break me. Ecclesiastes 3:3 says, “[There is] a time to tear down and a time to rebuild. ” There’s always something in my life that needs to be torn down—whether it’s discouragement or pride or insensitivity. If you want to be set free to follow Christ fully, then it’s time to pray a “break me” prayer.
Stretch me. If you’re tired of going nowhere spiritually or relationally, if your marriage is difficult, or your children are going through tough times and you’re not sure how to cope, ask God to stretch your marriage, your parenting, your spiritual understanding, even your courage to walk with him in a new way. Strength of character is won only by those who respond to life’s challenges by asking God to stretch them.
Lead me. When you get settled into a house, a career, a growing family, or future plans, it’s tempting to avoid dangerous “lead me” prayers that may “unsettle” your life. But that’s where faith comes in. We need to believe God loves us and wants to lead our life down a better, more God-focused path than we could ever lead ourselves.
When you say, “God, here’s my life. I’ll follow your promptings; I’ll listen for the tugs of your Spirit”—you’ll be surprised what can happen.
Use me. This prayer says, “God, I’m available if you’d like to do something great through me. I’m available if you’d like to touch another life through me.” “Use me” prayers are powerful. They create adventures. You never know what the result of these prayers will be, but they’re worth the risk of praying, because when you ask God to use you, he will. And it’s wonderful to be used by God.
Praying these five dangerous prayers says you mean business with God. When you prayerfully and courageously move out of your comfort zone, your spiritual life will never be the same. “Search me. Break me. Stretch me. Lead me. Use me.” Pray these prayers and watch what God does.