I'm amazed at how the older I get the bigger and broader prayer becomes. I've always believed in the power of prayer, but I've come to believe prayer is kind of a secret Swiss Army knife. It's like for years you think you have this great knife and then suddenly out of the blue you discover, "What the..? You mean there's a great pair of scissors in this thing, too?"
For many years I believed prayer was our means of communicating with God. Then I learned that prayer is also a two-way conversation - God can communicate with us through our prayers. Then I learned that prayer is not so much about us trying to influence or change God, it's about allowing God to change us through our prayers. Then there's this preparatory prayer thing...
That God will actually woo us into a time of prayer to build us up and prepare us for something coming up in our lives. I know I've experienced this in the past, but had no idea of what it was. I've felt the Spirit lead me to pray, but probably felt like it was because I was being convicted of not praying enough or something. But God knows that we are empowered when we spend time with him in prayer and will sometimes call us to pray for the purpose charging up our batteries and giving us extra strength for an upcoming trial. It's the same way Jesus called his disciples to pray with him in the garden before his arrest. It wasn't for his benefit - it was for theirs!
But how many times have I had a sleepless night and chose to watch TV or eat a big sandwich to help me get to sleep, when maybe God wasn't letting me sleep because he knew I needed to spend some time with him? Or how many times have I felt a hunger for time in prayer, but still put it off? It's almost as if the LOW FUEL light was blinking and I just kept ignoring it!
Now that this has been named and I'm more aware of it, I hope I can be more sensitive to the drawing of the Holy Spirit into times of preparatory prayer!