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3 Things Regular Prayer Will Teach You About Yourself

Prayer as a source of self-knowledge.

Regular prayer
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Those who pray regularly know things. Things that those who don’t pray regularly—or don’t pray at all—don’t know. I truly believe that.

You may not think of prayer as a way to fulfill the ancient Greek saying often attributed to Socrates, “know thyself,” but there are at least three ways that regular prayer will foster a greater and deeper knowledge of many things, including yourself. Here are just three:

1)  Regular prayer will teach you what you believe about God.

When you approach God, do you do so as if He is stingy or vengeful? Do you beg? Do you cajole? Or do you praise and offer thanks? When you say, “Our Father,” is it mere repetition, or do your prayers reflect a belief in God’s closeness and care? The more you pray, the more likely you are to understand (and grow in your understanding) of God and His ways, of His fatherly love and concern for you and for everything that concerns you. 

2)  Regular prayer will teach you what you believe about yourself.

Do I present my needs to God as a much-loved child? Do I “present [myself] to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed” (2 Timothy 2:15, NIV)? Do I relate to Him out of guilt or shame? Or affectionately and gratefully, like the woman who tenderly bathed the feet of Jesus with tears and expensive perfume (see Luke 17:36-48)? More and more, as you pray regularly, you will gain insight into the things you believe about yourself—how God sees you, and how you see yourself.

3)  Regular prayer will teach you what you believe is important.

My praying has changed drastically over the years, and much of it has been the fruit of regular (even constant, at times) prayer. In the past, my praying focused almost exclusively on urgent and immediate needs; there was a smattering of praise, a little thanks, and some waiting and listening. But mostly, I rushed into God’s presence and dumped my seemingly big needs on Him, and often ran out as breathlessly as I had come in. I still do that sometimes, but I’ve learned over time to wait on God, listen to Him, to think (and pray) His thoughts after Him.

Regular prayer has taught me that God’s wisdom is greater and His will more important than mine. Regular prayer taught me that I was treating my needs and urgencies as the most important thing I could take to God in prayer. I came to see that my need for control and my preferred outcomes were more important to me than God’s timing and His glory.

I am still learning new things about myself—daily, in fact—but I may never have begun the learning process if I had not sought God regularly in prayer. The more I pray, the more I know. And the more I know, the more I pray. Maybe regular prayer will do some of the same things for you too. 

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