The Power of Prayer

I cried out to the LORD in my great trouble, and he answered me. I called to you from the land of the dead, and LORD, you heard me!” -Jonah 2:2 (NLT)

When you pray, do you only tell God what you think he wants to hear? Maybe you start with a simple, “Hi, God. How’s it going? I hope you had a good day today.” Then you move forward with a predictable prayer that sounds a whole lot like the last time you prayed.

But God isn’t looking for a trite, memorized, mechanical prayer. He gets bored with prayers like that.

Instead, God wants you to pray passionately.

Jonah can teach us a lot about how to pray passionately. As he dropped down into the ocean and got swallowed by a large fish, he said, “I cried out to the Lord in my great trouble, and he answered me. I called to you from the land of the dead, and Lord, you heard me!” (Jonah 2:2 NLT).

As a parent, I always knew when my children said something they didn’t mean. God does, too. I can’t imagine Jonah praying from inside of the fish: “Now I lay me down to sleep.”

Jonah didn’t pray that way. Instead, he “cried out to the Lord.” He prayed, “Help! I need help right now!”

God answers frantic, emotional prayers. He wants you to pray what’s on your heart. In the Bible, that’s called lamenting. It’s a synonym for complaining.

Did you know that God wants to hear your complaints? He is interested in every detail of your life—even when you’re not happy.

Many of the psalms are laments, prayers of complaint to God. There’s even an entire book of the Bible called Lamentations, and it’s full of complaints by Jeremiah.

God cares about your pain. He wants to hear what’s on your heart. He would rather listen to your complaints than to a polite prayer you don’t really mean.

If you find yourself in a desperate situation right now (if not, you will at some point), skip the rote prayer. Share your heart with God.

He wants to hear it.”