How do we develop persistence and longevity when praying for cases such as long-term illness or difficult relationships? What do we do when we are so emotionally attached to the people or situations that we feel drained and spent emotionally every time we pray? How can we pray in a sustainable way and not burn out?
My prayers usually start with a lot of motivation and good intentions. However after a while, if the circumstances seem unchanged, discouragement creeps in. Eventually, I stop praying altogether. Was there a better way where I can be more faithful in praying and not give up? I found the solution when someone introduced me to the idea of “crafted prayer.”
A “Crafted Prayer” is simply a prayer that we have taken the time to refine and put together. We wait and ask God about the people or situations we want to pray for. And as God shows us the key points, these points can then be crafted into a prayer that we can use whenever we pray.
At first, I felt a bit intimidated by this new method. I understand the need to seek God’s will, but will He entertain my humble request? And more importantly, can I really hear His voice? What if I get it all mixed up with my own thoughts and imaginations? In any case, I had nothing to lose by asking God. Soon after, these verses came to mind.
“I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:15, New International Version)
Just as God called Abraham His friend, Jesus treats us as friends instead of “servants.” Because of that closeness, He will share His thoughts with us.
“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me.”
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:14, 27)
I was reminded that I know His voice simply because I belong to Him. He is the good shepherd, and He will help me grow and work through this process.
The first step in crafting the prayer is for us to seek God about His will for the specific situation we face. And when we are certain that we are praying God’s will, we have the faith that He will hear and answer our prayers, every time.
“This is the confidence we have in approaching God, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of Him.” (1 John 5:14-15)
We begin the crafting process by sharing our concerns with God and waiting for His insights. We don’t engage in any intercession or petition at this stage, but to simply lay our concerns before Him. Be patient and don’t rush through this step. God may ask us questions or remind us of details we’ve overlooked. Through this process, we begin to see things from a heavenly perspective and understand God’s heart for the people that are involved. The process is unique each time. The key is to keep our hearts open to dialog with God.
Eventually, the burdens on our hearts will be replaced by a sense of peace as God shows us the specific areas He wants us to focus on in prayer. Don’t be surprised if the final crafted prayer is different than the original prayer we started with. As we wait on the Lord, God will take us on a journey to see the situation from His perspective. He may show us the root causes and influences that contribute to the current situation, and/or His intention for the big picture. Most of the time, the prayer will not focus on “how” the changes will happen, but rather the final vision of what God has in mind. And as we pray the final crafted version, we are agreeing with God and inviting Him to come in and make His plan happen.
Once we finish the crafting stage, we now have a prayer that is not only born out of the desires of our heart but also out of the will of God. Every time we pray this prayer, even if we don’t feel like we have any faith of our own, we know He hears us – because we are asking according to His will. And because we are praying His will, we know that we have what we asked of Him. (1 Jn 5:15) Especially when we feel discouraged or disappointed by the circumstances, the crafted prayer serves as our anchor point because the prayer itself will remind us of the heart of God for the situation.
Currently, I am praying through a crafted prayer for a personal situation. When I first began, I felt so discouraged that I had no faith to pray on my own. All I could do is read the prayer I crafted and agree with God. I agreed with God with what He wanted to do, and agreed with Him in blessing all who are involved. I was too hurt and discouraged to pray blessings over anyone, but it was the prayer God gave me, so I read on and I agreed. Eventually, as I read the prayer every day, multiple times on some days, my emotions settled, and faith began to emerge. Slowly, I can see how God is bringing changes into these areas. I also realized that this situation will take some time to shift. Although I tend to be impatient, having the crafted prayer helped me to learn how to pray persistently, and not burn out after a few days or weeks.
The process of seeking God’s will reminded me that prayer is not about me and my efforts. In praying the crafted prayer, I am simply agreeing with God, and inviting Him to intervene in these situations. My perspectives have changed. Instead of me trying to accomplish change through prayer, God is doing all of the work. Even when circumstances remain the same, and my faith wanes, reading the prayer I wrote down reminded me of what God has in mind. Now, I’m fixing my eyes on God, who is faithful, instead of the circumstances. With crafted prayer, I am finally grasping how to truly partner with God in prayer.
For further reading: Crafted Prayer by Graham Cooke