There are, of course, many ways to pray, and many emotional states to pray from. We can pray in anxiety or in desperation even or in a relaxed state, at peace. I am sure that God doesn’t care about our emotional state when we pray, but I am convinced that He cares about whether we are half-hearted or whole-hearted about our prayers. So often we are praying only with our emotions’ insistence that what we are praying for will come true—my way, it has to be my way! Or we are desperately seeking some solace for our feelings. Or we may just be praying by rote, feeling that we must lift this prayer because that is how we have been taught to pray, without looking at what we are contributing to the problem, without owning our part.
To me, the most effective prayer, especially when we are lifting up our own sinfulness to Him to heal is one in which our whole being is engaged. Prayer in this state of whole-heartedness is called the prayer of intention. Starting with Jesus’ commandment, to love God with all of ourselves[Luke 10:25ff], we also are to bring our whole selves—heart, soul, mind and body—to God in prayer. We are aligning our will totally with God’s will. We are committing our whole selves to what we are praying for. And God does answer prayers of intention—you will see, feel and observe the changes in yourself over time as you lift up prayers of intention to God.
In my experience, I am often prompted by God to set an intention. My first experience of this came at the suggestion of my spiritual director. I had heard God say to me in my thinking, “I want to be a vector.” I didn’t even know what a vector was. When I looked it up, it meant to be pointed in one direction like an arrow. When I met with my spiritual director, she suggested that I gather my whole self together to declare to God, “I want to be a vector.” And so I did that after our session. Four or five months later I was feeling pretty integrated—a brand new feeling for someone as scattered as I was! When I thought about how that had come about, I eventually realized that the intention I set had started this whole process. All I had done was to set an intention; the Holy Spirit had done all the rest! As I thought about it, I came to believe that God needs a sincere invitation from me, from us, an open door for Him to enter into me, into all of us, in order to transform that particular issue in us.
I began to set intentions about my state of being, about any sin or feeling that I had wronged someone. Sometimes the suggestions came from God, sometimes from me. At any one time I might be fielding 10 or more intentions, no longer able to just track one prompt and its effect on me. But I could feel so many healings, so much fear and anger resolved, so many preoccupations and pain transformed. Gradually over time God was working His good ways in me.
Setting an intention is a commitment to a new way of living and being. It is a willingness to let God change us, heal us, transform us. To set intentions is to enter into a healing/transforming process that will transform us from the inside out. That’s the first thing to know about setting intentions.
The second is to be able to recognize God’s voice, His “still, small voice” within us. We can certainly lift up our “stuff” as we recognize it to God, but how much more effective can it be if we are also responding to God’s prompts? He has a plan, a step-by-step process for each of us to heal and to transform us, to return us into the people we were created to be. So if we are in tune with His inner prompts, then we can follow His lead wherever we are, back to our true selves.
The third thing to know about intentions is that God is doing all the work; we only have to consent to open the door of an issue to Him.
The fourth thing to know is that it takes our whole being, not just our mind or emotions, our heart, but everything within us including our soul to state our intention. No half-heartedness, no being partial about it!
The fifth thing to know is that you never have to say or do anything again about this issue. God is working on it. He will finish it once and for all. Later on, deeper and deeper levels on the same issue may come up, and those need to be stated in an intention as they do. My husband died 16 years ago and I thoroughly grieved his death, or so I thought. Four years ago when August 10th would have been our 50th wedding anniversary, I was awash in grief. And I hadn’t even know that I cared about celebrating our 50th together.
This year an issue came up for me around a long period of depression that my husband went through—more grief. With each incidence, I have set intentions to clear out the grief and other emotions that pull me back to the past.
The sixth thing to know about intentions is to state them in a positive way, like the prompt I felt from God—I want to be a vector. If what you have is a sin or false belief or anything negative, be sure to state it in a positive way. For instance, I am free of _______! Or I no longer need to _____! Or I am ________!
The proof of setting intentions is in the changes to our own conscious and unconscious attachments to the world’s ways, to our own pain and suffering and to our own self-image. God works at all levels of our being, healing, transforming, releasing attachments and more. As we use intention, as issues come up in us and we lift them up whole-heartedly, with our whole being, to God, we will be able to track the positive movements in our own self-image and more. Thanks be to God!
Questions to ponder over the week: When I pray, am I seeking my will or God’s will to be done? Am I wholeheartedly engaged in prayer? Am I willing to put myself into God’s hands totally, to allow Him to change me from the inside out? Have I tried a prayer of intention? What was the result?
Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who are willing to be healed from the inside out—to be healed by God. May we put our lives in His hands, let Him lead us, teach us, live out His purpose in us. May we be His hands and feet here on this earth.
Check out my new book, “Exodus: Our Story, Too,” at exodus-our-story-too.blogspot.com. or on amazon.com under my full name, Patricia Said Adams. The book reveals the template, the stages, of our journey in God from slavery to the world to the kingdom of God. Too often we stop short, maybe way short, of where God would take us. Read about how far we might actually go, if we would totally trust God.
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Check out the archives of my blog going back to 2011 on this page.