Why is it when we have the power of God at our fingertips we confine our prayers to such small boundaries? We pray shallow prayers, content to focus on things immediately in our purview rather than dare to pray extravagant, deep prayers. Sure, there are exceptions, but I have rarely met someone whose prayers are regularly focused on the deep things of God and the ultimate mission of His Son.
The God of the Universe resides within you, waiting for you to recognize the role He has given you to bring His Kingdom to earth. Jesus promised we would do greater things than He did (John 14:12-13), but we’ll never see that promise come to fruition as long as we are praying such safe and shallow prayers.
Reflecting on your most recent prayers, on what were they focused? Since I can’t speak for you, I’ll just come clean and let you in on a few of my own. I’ve prayed for a safe journey, an enjoyable vacation for my wife as she visits friends and relatives, my health, various aches and pains, and my job. Those are good things but they are shallow prayers. They might express my love for others and my desire to be at peak performance so I can better serve Christ, but they do not encompass the depth and richness of what is available to us when we speak to our King and Savior. Nor do they do much to further God’s Kingdom on earth.
Each morning I pray for unreached people groups and for our persecuted brothers and sisters across the globe. That’s a little deeper, but there are certainly degrees to my passion depending on the day (sad but true). My deepest prayers come very early in the morning when everything is quiet, the craziness has not yet kicked in, and I can just speak to God without distraction. Sometimes we really get into the nitty gritty then. But still, those wonderful times of communion are very focused on myself and my relationship with Him. Too often, I am still not thinking nearly large enough.
Shallow prayers are the norm for most modern Christians, at least the ones with whom I have come into contact. There are some great prayer warriors who are exceptions, but if that’s you I encourage you to not let yourself off the hook too easily. Quantity is not synonymous with depth. You can pray shallow prayers for hours on end. A deep prayer does not allow our human confines and constructs to size the request. Deep prayers recognize the mission of Christ and what it will take to bring it to pass.
Anything is possible with God. We can all do anything through His power. But first we must pray the kind of prayers that move mountains (Matthew 17:20). We must develop the faith that stands up to every test. Shallow prayers yield shallow roots and we will wither in times of trial. Deep prayers turn over earth and displace sediment to burrow deep into the truth and character of God. We’ve got to stop being afraid. We’ve got to get our heads out of the sand, out of our own business, and focus on the greater things of God.
Shallow prayers are prayed by shallow, feeble, and selfish people. We are called to be conquerors and conquerors pray expansive, deep prayers far beyond themselves. Which description would you prefer for your life: an ineffective person who plays it safe, or a courageous lion who seizes territory for the glory of God? The difference is largely determined by how we pray. It’s time for us to grow up. It’s time to live our calling. And we can’t do that as long as we continue praying shallow prayers.