It's been said that everything God uses, he must first reduce to nothing. Prayer is God's wrecking ball. Through diligent and consistent communion, God strips away the pride we have in our abilities and talents, the pride we have even in our own spirituality. He takes our complicated facades of faith and reduces them to rubble, rebuilding them into something seemingly too simple for human achievement — bringing us to, well, the faith of a child.
As we pray and meditate upon the mirror of God's Word, we're forced to face ourselves. We're forced to seek God's solutions and to examine situations by God's standards and not our own. We're forced to decide, when we unbow our heads, whether we will also unbow our wills, or whether, to borrow from Oswald Chambers, we will leave our "i am" submitted to the great "I Am."
That is why we often say that prayer changes the prayer. It's in prayer that the Holy Spirit helps us to root out resistance and disobedience to God's will in our lives, and it's through prayer that the Spirit helps us to develop a deeper faith, a simple dependence on God. That dependence, then, becomes a faith declaration of God's ability to work in all of our circumstances. That dependence reminds us that it's not what we do for God, but as broken vessels before Him, it's what God does for us, and then through us.
Unbroken, we forget the arrogance surrounding the sin of prayerlessness. "Not to pray is not only to declare that there is nothing needed," wrote the prayer warrior E. M. Bounds, "but to admit to a non-realization of that need."
Our broken dependence on God is THE key element in prayer, said Norwegian theologian Ole Hallesby. He was not suggesting that we discipline ourselves more, rather that we cling to our own abilities less. Hallesby said prayer combines confessing our helplessness to God and then having faith in Christ to meet all our needs. He continued: "It is not intended that our faith should help Jesus to fulfill our supplications. He does not need any help; all he needs is access. Neither is it intended that our faith should draw Jesus into our distress, or make him interested in us, or solicitous on our behalf. He has long since cared for us."
Prayer reminds us that our perspective is limited. Truth is not defined by what we see or what we feel, rather it is defined by God. In prayer, we're forced to view any attempt to live independently of God — to move away from God's reality — as foolish, and we're forced to call it what it truly is: sin. And in prayer we see that our sin is not a personality quirk, not a simple stumble, but is the very thing that destroyed our union with God. Like Jacob at Jabbok, many of us would prefer to wrestle with God, rather than simply surrendering to Him. Are you abandoned to God or are you still deciding? May the rush of God's wrecking ball find you on your knees.
John Calvin's 4 Rules of Prayer
God should be approached:
#2 with a contrite heart
#3 with all rights relinquished
#4 with a confident hope in Him.