Written by Michelle Lai, Singapore
Have you ever felt like you are rattling off a list of wants to a genie while talking to God? Most of my prayer life felt that way. Deep down, I felt dissatisfied that communication with God seemed so one-way. There must be more, right? It got me pondering on how I can communicate with God in such a way that I can really enjoy Him for who He is.
So I decided to Google for resources on prayer, and came across the Navigator’s 30-day guide on praying through the names and attributes of God. I downloaded the book and prayed, asking God to help me learn and understand His character and attributes, so that I can experience a richer prayer life.
The resource listed 30 attributes and names of God, and I prayed through each attribute/name every day during my quiet time, taking care to not just read off the list, but to actually have a conversation with Him and thank Him. One example was God being Jehovah Jireh, and so I thanked Him for providing for me, that because of Him I am not in want (Psalm 23).
After a few weeks, I realised that learning the attributes of God has been helpful for my everyday life—when making a decision, in moments of fear or uncertainty, or uttering a quick thanks to God for something that’s gone well.
One time my mother had a painful fall. While helping her get back up on her feet, I said a quick prayer to God and thanked Him for being Jehovah Rophe—the God who heals. This brought me to acknowledge that God is our protector and comforter, and I prayed that He would protect my mother from pain and comfort her. This helped us take our minds off the possibility of complications from the fall, knowing that no matter what happens, my mother’s health is in His hands, so we need not worry.
Seeing more of God and knowing Him for who He is has also helped me know myself better and has enabled me to better understand His desire and plans for me (2 Corinthians 3:18).
Whenever I become anxious and doubt myself, I am reminded of my identity as a child of God; that though God is self-sufficient, He created us to have a loving relationship with Him. I also learnt to relate to God as my good Father who desires the best for His child. This helps me to trust in His providence (Jehovah Jireh) when I am waiting on something, for instance, waiting for prospective employer to get back to me.
This has led me to pray and claim the promises that He has already given—that He will comfort us in our trials (2 Corinthians 1:3), He will supply our needs (Matthew 6:33, Philippians 4:19), and we will have rest in Him (Matthew 11:28-30). While there is a place to come to God with our specific requests, I have found it comforting to pray these promises from the Bible and remember what God has already offered.
Praying according to God’s Word opened my eyes to the fact that the words of the Bible are not just words, they are alive and can speak into our lives. Philippians 4:6-7 says that we will have peace when we pray to God. As I claimed these verses and began praying, I could see God’s words being fulfilled in filling me with peace.
I am thankful for these resources and for God’s Word in helping me appreciate Him for Who He is and to enjoy my time with Him. I have learnt to focus on Him when I pray, instead of myself. This has also led to a subtle shift in my focus in life where my eyes are increasingly trained on God, His work, His people, and potential areas where I can serve.Focusing on God’s attributes and promises cultivates an attitude of thanksgiving, helping take my eyes off the things I want but still don’t have and look instead at what God has already given.
This practice has also made me more aware of how God’s attributes aren’t just for me but also for the people around me, even the people who have hurt me. It has led me to pray even more for their salvation, unlike before when I would be sceptical about “a person like him or her” being saved. Thinking about my biological father now, I’ve realised that God’s promises are available to him too, but because he is trapped in his own sins, he needs prayer and intercession.
Like what the hymn says: “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full on His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.”
Indeed, focusing on God helped me to put things into perspective, and I know that no matter what happens, my God is the God that never changes (Malachi 3:6) and I can count on His character and promises.