Like many other parts of my life, my prayer life has gone through different seasons and changes. The prayers of my youth were often centered around my selfish desires. Even that first prayer in kindergarten to ask JESUS into my heart was a fire insurance prayer. I don’t want to burn in hell so I better pray that JESUS saves me and takes me to heaven. I would pray for the salvation of others too, but most of my prayers were about things that I wanted for myself. GOD, help me with this test. LORD, please get me out of this speeding ticket. Help me with this. Please provide that.
There was a season of prayer when I focused on the a.c.t.s. prayer. adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication. I think the season of selfish prayers rolled into the a.c.t.s. season though because the adoration, and confession were the shortest parts of those prayers, and the supplication was always the easiest.
Doesn’t that seem to be our nature? we go to GOD more when there’s something we want or need. We go to GOD more when we’re stuck in a moment that we can’t get out of. Newborn christians often spend more time in prayer than what I like to call adolescent christians. This might not be as true for children, but as adults, I think we have a tendency to go through a season of withdrawal from GOD.
It may not be true of everyone, but I think many of us get to the point where we’ve given GOD the glory and confessed all of our major sins. We get tired of thanking HIM for the same things overtime we pray and we find ourselves in a place of comfort where we don’t feel like we need to ask HIM, or anyone else, for anything. That is what I mean by adolescent christians. The newness of accepting GOD’S grace through JESUS CHRIST has worn off and a complacent attitude about our faith has grown, pushing the work of the HOLY SPIRIT out of our daily lives. Church is likely still a weekly occurrence, but our lives stop reflecting the love of JESUS by the time we get back to the car.
Without some form of discipleship and the intentional invitation to the HOLY SPIRIT to work within our lives, there is a danger of remaining in a state of spiritual adolescence. Think about a man in his mid thirties who still acts like a middle school student. He expects his wife (or his mother if he’s still living at home) to clean up after him and spends most of his day, when he’s not working his part time job, playing video games and eating nachos. He’s in a state that I would call social adolescence.
The spiritual adolescent has come to expect GOD to work on his behalf and lives like he’s entitled to the kingdom. He plays the church game and eats communion once a month, but there is no longer any worship from his heart or progression in his spiritual walk. Life has become stagnant.
I went through spiritual adolescence. I walked the walk when everyone was looking, but I didn’t care anymore. I had prayed in tongues earlier in my christian walk, but not at all in this season. I didn’t experience any sort of power, revelation, gifts, or fruit. Eventually I got to the point of wanting more in regards to my relationship with GOD. It sounds like I was going back to the season of the selfish child, but it was different. I did’t want more from my relationship with GOD. I wanted more of a relationship with HIM.
My prayers began to change. I went back to the way that JESUS taught HIS disciples to pray.
FATHER GOD. YOU are most holy. YOU, and YOU alone, deserve my praise. Hear my worship. I glorify YOUR name. Send YOUR kingdom GOD. May YOUR kingdom be ever expanding through that which YOU have called me to. Fulfill YOUR will in my life. I devote every ounce of my being to YOU. I ask that YOU provide my every need today. I will not worry about tomorrow because I know that it is in YOUR hands. Please forgive me for everything I have done that comes against YOU. Forgive me for my selfishness. Forgive me for my doubts about YOU. I believe in YOU, but help my unbelief. Help me to forgive others who may have wronged me, whether in my perception or in reality. I know that YOU forgive them, so help me to do the same. LORD, please guide my every step today. Lead me in YOUR ways alone. Help me to resist all temptation and do not allow the enemy to come against me.
I started to pray continually. Even when I had no words, I would continue to pray in THE SPIRIT. When you look at relationships in the world, you can get an idea of the quality of the relationship by looking at the communication within it. The same is true of our relationship with GOD. Mature christians are in communion with GOD constantly. They approach HIM with sincere honor and adoration. They listen and hear HIM speak to them. They are able to discern HIS will and voice more clearly.
I am on a journey towards spiritual maturity and I have a long way to go yet. I have surrounded myself with spiritually mature mentors and friends who have been helping me along the way, discipling me as we grow together. Spiritual maturity does not mean final arrival like the maturity of a loan means that it is paid in full. Spiritual maturity is a season of understanding your place in regards to GOD and within HIS church. It is a season of continued growth while discipling others. It is a sliding scale much like many other seasons of life.
I read a great post by Walt Mueller called Heaven, Hell, and Balancing Our Message and Lives… The ending about infantile, adolescent, and mature faith is what struck me the most. I think that our prayer life and the way that we pray are good ways to measure our spiritual maturity. I don’t have it all figured out, but I am growing, and I hope that you are growing too.