As a young child I remember my grandmother saying to me, “a penny for your thoughts.” I didn’t really understand the comment initially, but apparently, she would catch me in what she assumed was ‘deep thought’. I was and still am, I guess, rather contemplative. I suppose that we all are to some extent.
We think about our friends and family. We ponder various activities that we are involved with, maybe our job, our church, politics, sport leagues, and so forth. We wrestle with ideas to solve a problem like planning a budget, or what college classes to take. Our brains seem to continue to maul over all aspects of our life on a somewhat continuous cycle. We’re designed that way, the ability to think and reason.
The Apostle Paul tells us in Romans 12: 2, ‘to be transformed by the renewing of your mind’, which is accomplished in surrendering to Christ. The result being that our thought processes would be moved onto more eternal, more godly, more holy ground. Further on Paul writes, ‘whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever thing are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things. (Philippians4:8) This is Christ at work in us!
There is a difference between thinking and praying. Thinking is merely a human activity to implement human knowledge or understanding. Our thoughts generally reside in the temporal realm and are mostly natural and earthbound. Praying on the other hand connects us to the Spiritual realm, is supernatural by faith, and is heaven bound and eternal. By faith great spiritual power is released though prayer. It’s not man’s power, it’s God’s power!
I’ve heard the comment many times among Christians, ‘you’re in my thoughts and prayers’ or some such statement. I’m sure that I’ve said that myself at times. It seems like it really means that I’ll think about you, or your situation but I don’t know how to nor make the time to actually pray for you. Sometimes it’s hard work to pray. But it is through prayer that God’s promises and power are released. This is way beyond what we can think or do. ‘Christ is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think’. (Ephesians 3:20)
A close brother in Christ recently shared with me that he is purposing to make his thoughts, into his prayers. We already talked about our minds in an ongoing thinking process but what about our prayers? Again, Paul writes ‘pray without ceasing’ (1 Thessalonians 5:17) What if we merged our thought life with our prayer life? What if we moved our thoughts onto an eternal, heavenly plain? What if instead of obsessing about life issues we took them first to God through prayer? In my own experience I know that there have been things that I have ‘rehashed’ way too much. Why not surrender those things to God and ask Him to deal with those issues and then trust that He will?
It may seem at times that God doesn’t hear our prayers but He always does. He may not answer them according to our schedule but we must still trust Him. There are a couple of interesting passages in Revelation 5 and 8. They reference the prayers of the saints (believers/followers of Christ) being saved in golden vessels and offered before the throne of God as a sweet aroma before Him. Those are your prayers and your grandparent’s prayers and possibly many other prayers from many other people, some of whom you have never known that have prayed for you. These are eternal before the Father. Prayers that we forgot that we even prayed are before our God. God is dealing with all these prayer from His eternal perspective. Our prayers no matter how simple or theological ascend to this heavenly eternal ground. This revelation should encourage and inspire us into a more purposeful and intentional pray life.
It seems that it would be a great resolution for the new year to think prayerfully and to pray earnestly and thoughtfully. These things are eternal!
The writer is the pastor of Christ the King Church near Jackson Center.