40 Days of Prayer 2024: Day 7

Welcome to day 7 of our 40 day challenge, and day two on the practice of Prayer!

(You can catch up on Day 1, Day 2 , Day 3, Day 4, and Day 5, and Day 6 if you missed them)

Yesterday we began with the helpful practice of being guided by the Lord’s Prayer for our own. Today we’ll focus on the very foundation of prayer, our relationship with God. When I’m asked how long our prayer times should be, I compare prayer to spending time with a loved one. We pray because we have a relationship with God. We wouldn’t ask a spouse or loved one how much time they require from us to stay in relationship with us. We spend time with those we value. Keeping this truth in mind helps a great deal when we talk about what prayer could or should look like.

We want our relationship with the Lord to be as connected as the branch is to the vine. 

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. John 15:1-11

Our prayer life is vital to our relationship with God. And time is the currency of relationships. Relationships are built on shared experiences, and that requires time. Relationships grow and are deepened as we spend time together, experiencing the highs, lows, and the routine of daily life. At its core, prayer is spending time with God and doing whatever the relationship needs to grow. When you spend time with a loved one, the conversation can flow freely, and sitting in silence is sweet instead of awkward. Sometimes you talk, and sometimes you listen and sometimes you just sit together and enjoy the company. Sometimes you may sit on a favorite chair or go for a walk in nature, or listen to music, or read or journal together. You get the idea. Set aside time each day to spend with God.

Relationship in prayer

In prayer, we come just as we are. We tell God our deepest hopes and dreams, as well as our fears and struggles. With God, we say the things we might not even admit out loud. We don’t have to filter our words or qualify our meanings, we can just blurt it out. Our Abba knows it already and loves us still! In Him, you are safe, and heard, and loved.  There is nothing you can say that will surprise or disappoint Him.  And that dream you are afraid to dream might just be a dream your Abba placed in your heart.

We grow in relationship when we’ve opened our hearts to the other in vulnerability. We don’t pretend to be something we are not. And it’s the same with our Abba in prayer as well. If the way of prayer you’ve been taught has been mostly a list of requests, I strongly encourage you to begin your prayer time with this heart position of relationship. 

When I was a baby Christian, the church I attended taught that we needed to word prayers a specific way, or they would not be answered. And so, I spent a lot of time making sure I said the right words in the right order to get the answer I wanted. It also meant that the prayer practice I knew consisted mainly of petition. It was more similar to needing the correct change for a heavenly vending machine than an intimate conversation with my Abba. And this might be the most vital mindset shift we can make. Prayer at its foundation is time spent loving and being loved by our Abba. It is an active relationship we have together. 

Prayer is mighty and powerful. God does give us authority in His name (we’ll go over warfare tomorrow!). God does want us to approach the throne of grace with confidence and ask for anything at all in His will. We are co-laborers with Him and we do have a vital role to play. And all of that is done from a place of relationship. Our relationship with God is the foundation of all intercession. Prayer is more than a list of requests. It is time you intentionally spend with the One who loves you more than you could possibly know. And the more time we spend with Him, the more like Him we can become. Praying deepens our friendship with God. 

Reflection for prayer and/or journaling:
Is any of this perspective new to you? Have you thought of prayer time as relationship-building or more of a spiritual to-do list? Consider how you would like to deepen and grow your relationship with the Lord. Relationships take time, whether this is new to you or you’ve been with Him for decades.

Action steps:
Focus on deepening your friendship with God this week. Choose a time to spend with God each day. Make it an appointment, and show up. You can picture Him there with you because He is! Begin by breathing deeply, relaxing your shoulders, and receiving the love He is pouring out to you.

I encourage you to sit with your Bible, a notebook to journal in, and a separate notebook or piece of paper to write any distracting thoughts that pop into your mind. If you suddenly remember an errand you must run or a task you forgot about, write it on the page and turn your attention back to the Lord.

I know many will be discouraged if I don’t leave you with any specifics. So here are some suggestions:

  • Talk about what’s on your heart, the demands and pressures you feel. Use the plain, honest words you would use with a friend. Be fully yourself with Him.
  • Choose a Psalm to pray to Him
  • Think through the last day (or week), pointing out each gift you see from Him and thanking Him.
  • Worship Him, express gratitude for who He is to you, what He has done for you, what He has given to you.
  • Ask the Lord what is on His heart.
  • Ask Him what He wants you to know for the day.
  • Ask if there is anything He wants you to ask for.
  • Ask for wisdom and/or strength in the areas of your life: your family, work, time, relationships
  • Listen. This one is a must. Ask for ears that hear and eyes that see Him. Get our your notebook and write anything you feel He is saying to you. Prayer is not just saying words to God. It’s a conversation with God.

Pray together:
Father, we thank you for this gift of relationship with you and the privilege of prayer! We dedicate this time to you and ask you to deepen our relationships with you. Open the hearts of each person in this challenge and give them ears to hear your voice. Your sheep hear your voice and follow you. Let your voice be distinctive in our hearts. Help us clear away all distractions and quiet our minds to hear you and delight in our time with you. Let us be the branch fully connected to the vine, remaining in you. We pray for the enemy’s work to be thwarted and bound in each person’s life. Protect each person here from the interference set against them. In the mighty name of Jesus, we pray together, amen and amen.

♥ Samantha