Fervency in Prayer

By Erin Bird

Last week, I kicked off a three-week series on prayer. Our first “F” was “Frequency in Prayer.” (If you missed it, catch up on the Riverwood blog.) This week, we continue the series with “Fervency in Prayer.”The dictionary defines fervent as “having or displaying a passionate intensity.” This definition makes us think of sports fans, or protestors, or even a demanding child. But prayer?

Some of you grew up in (or at least were exposed to) church traditions where prayer was very solemn and subdued. After all, when praying to God, these church traditions taught us to be respectful to the Almighty. So our prayers were said with meekness, calmness, or even a “ritual-ness.” To be “passionate” in prayer, therefore, almost feels irreverent.

But an honest read through the book of Psalms reveals a type of prayer that could only be described as passionate. Take Psalm 42 for instance. The authors (the Korahites) express a deep longing for God. We see them openly share about their depression. We see them cry out to God for help. Psalm 42 is not a calm prayer. It is filled with emotion. The authors are very passionate (dare I say “fervent”) in their prayer.

But Psalm 42 is not the only example.

  • We see the Israelite people in Exodus 15 passionately sing a prayer of thanks to God after rescuing them from their Egyptian pursuers by bringing them through the Red Sea.
  • We see the same nation of Israel cry out intensely in prayer as they realize their sin in Ezra 10,
  • And we even see Jesus Himself fervently pray in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before He is arrested, tried, and crucified.

In other words, it’s okay for you to bring your full self into prayer, to passionately lay before God your joys, your worries, your short-comings, your desires, or whatever is close to your heart. You do not need to manufacture emotion for God, as He is not swayed by fake intensity. But you also do not need to mute or minimize your emotion either. God simply wants your authentic self.

So it’s okay to be fervent in prayer. Let biblical precedent guide you into being open and honest with the God who loves you and wired you with emotion.

Heavenly Father, help me to be authentic before you, for nothing is hidden from you. You wired me with personality and emotion, so help me to bring my full self into your presence. Help me not to pretend with you, but rather to bring a passionate intensity to my times in prayer with you, for I have nothing without you.

In Christ I pray,