Posted by Chris Tomlin with Andrea Lucado on 1 December 2014

What do our prayers often sound like? If we actually take the time out of our day to pause and talk to God, what are our first words? Most likely, they are requests. Prayer is often more a list of petitions for us than anything else. And that’s ok. Jesus said to make our requests known, and the people of scripture cry out to God again and again. But what if the next time you prayed, you started that prayer by focusing on the character of Christ?

Deep in wisdom
Perfect peace
Author, Master
Majesty Jesus, this is You

By simply listing who Jesus is, the focus is on him (for at least a few minutes) rather than the focus being on our anxiety over whether or not God will answer our requests how we want him to. Scripture makes it clear where our focus should be: “…let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith…. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12: 1-3). Consider him, it says, and in this you won’t grow weary and lose heart. If your prayer begins by declaring Jesus’ wisdom, peace and authority, your problems will then be clearly laid under the covering of his wisdom, peace, and authority. And maybe you will be able to entrust them to him more easily.

Our prayers contain petitions for ourselves as much as they contain petitions for others. We beg for forgiveness, and ask for guidance because we’ve sinned and have lost our way. We feel bogged down by shame and disappointment. This is when we need to remind ourselves of the character of Jesus the most.

Rich in mercy
Full of grace
You are greater than the grave
You have broken every chain

When we repeat the truth that Christ has set us free (Romans 8:1), that he has broken our chains of sin, that he is rich in mercy (Ephesians 2:4), that he is full of grace (John 1:14), we open our hearts again to be loved by him. And in that love we remember who we are: not sinners, but God’s children covered by Christ.

Reminding ourselves of who Jesus is fades our problems and our shame into the background. He becomes greater since he is the greatest one, the righteous one. The more we focus on his character, the less we focus on our pain and the more we can become like him.

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