I went for a walk and wanted to pray but was as stuck as the White Witch’s sledge in the slush of new spring. All my prayers beginning, “Lord, I pray for my husband …” and “Lord, please work in my children …” went nowhere. Then I remembered this verse:
“Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise!” (Psalm 100:4, ESV)
So I changed my approach and suddenly found smooth sailing. Rather than, “Lord, I pray for my husband …” I began, “Lord, thank you for my husband. Thank you that he is a man of faith. Thank you that his speech builds me up. Thank you that you are doing a remarkable healing in his back and that he is working again and that you are supplying our needs. Thank you for even the hard times we have had in our relationship that have brought to the surface the hidden things you want to change in us. …”
I never ran out of things to say! One thing led to another.
It was the same with my prayers for my children. Rather than getting stalled at “Lord, please save all my children,” when I began the prayer with “Lord, thank you for my children,” the words kept flowing somehow. It was like this: “Lord, thank you that it is not your will that any should perish but that all should come to a knowledge of God. I will hang my hat on that promise for my kids. Thank you that you are well able to save my children because you are the one who turns the king’s heart in your hand. Thank you that you said that the prayers of a righteous person are effective. Please help me walk in righteousness, that my prayers may not be hindered. …”
And so on.
I don’t know why it is so much easier to spend a half-hour in prayer when I enter into the prayer by thanking God for things. All I know is that God said it, and it works. He instructed “Enter my gates with thanksgiving,” and it has proved very true in my case that this is the most felicitous point of entry.