How can I pray? Prayer Part II
Matthew 6: 5-15; 7: 7-12
What if I have never been taught how to personally pray or to talk to God? What if I grew up in a church that never had conversational or personal prayer? What if I only know liturgy? What if I offend God?
If you think that you do not know how to pray, you need to ask yourself, do I know how to talk and listen? If you know how to talk to another person, then you know how to pray! Prayer is basically our communication with the Great Sovereign God of the Universe who wants the best for us and to hear from us! The great wonder is not so much in how we pray, but that God is willing to listen to us! The great, wonderful fallout from our redemption is our ability to pray real and effective prayers that God actually hears and to which He responds! God will actually speak to us through His Word, and the Holy Spirit teaches and convicts us through the Word. The fact is, our prayer time with God is basically our conversing with Him, through which we express our gratitude for whom He is, what He did for us, and discover our purpose in life. Thus, through our prayers, we can be taught, we can grow, and we can be convicted so we can apply His precepts to our lives and affect those around us, too.
Prayer is coming to God through discussion, learning, and relationship building. It is the channel of communication between Christ and us. We give ourselves to Christ as He has given Himself to us-much like a man and woman give themselves to each other in marriage. Since God has given Himself, what is in the way of our being able and willing to respond?
Prayer is not just talking to God; it is also meant to further link us to Him and develop our relationship with Him so we can build our faith, character, and maturity. Remember, we have access to God; we have permission to come to Him! Wow! What a privilege we have (Rom 5:1)!
We need to see that God is jealous when we do not spend time with Him. In the Greek language the illustration is referring to us, when we do not spend time with God it is like we are cheating on a spouse (2 Cor. 11:1)! He has taken care of the able part; because of Christ, we have direct access. The most incredible thing in the universe is the ability to talk directly with the Creator and Sustainer! We can do this because we are spiritually united; because of His redemption on our behalf, we have unity. This is communion, not the ritual with the bread and wine, but the intimate relationship that the ritual symbolizes. Prayer is the communication.
Prayer also helps keep us conscious of His work in our life. He is here with you now, so do not ignore Him or leave Him out of your life and decisions. He is to be the primary foundation and for whom we are to be and do; and, we must commune with Him to make this happen. When we commune with God, our lives begin to line up to Him more fervently and powerfully. We gain more of Him in our lives, more of His will and insight, more of His direction and will. Thus, we will become dependent on Him and not the feeble ways of "self" with our needs, emotions, or the world. Our opportunities and call will be clearer and our lives given a greater purpose and impact for the Kingdom. However, the key is to get beyond being selfish and more into how I can grow and contribute. It is not about what I can get, but what I can do. Consequently, the more we pray, the more He is in our life, and more specifically-the more we feel and see Him involved!
Nevertheless, as a pastor, I have been amazed over the years at how many Christians just do not pray! I hear all kinds of excuses why they do not-from the theological, "why should I, since God already knows everything," to the failed expectations of "I have tried and it does not work," or "God never answers my prayers." In addition, there is "I just do not have the time," or "that is just for you." But, what I get most from the folks who do not pray is feeling-based excuses, "I do not know how; and, when I do, I feel nothing." I think that many Christians may try prayer and soon give up on it because what they expect does not come about when they want it. They get frustrated because they do not get the answer they seek, do not feel the power and impact they thought they would get, or just get frustrated because the time and efforts become overwhelming. We live in a fast-food and fast-paced culture where we see a television show that illustrates a problem and a solution in a 30 minute time frame; therefore, when the work of God takes more time and patience than we are used to, we give up because we want results now. We need to see prayer beyond our timing and expectations; rather, we should see prayer as relational, something that is not supposed to be fast-paced or instant-result orientated.
For us to even start to change our perception and expectations on prayer, we need to realize it is God at work in us, and allow Him to work at His pace. Prayer takes fortitude, as in the time and patience we are to put in it and in the time and patience God is working in us, slowly crafting and molding us. It is a learning endeavor, too. Learning to pray is like learning a new language. It takes that time effort; if we do not use it, we lose it; and, with prayer, we just end up not doing it. We also have to see that we are all in a process of learning and growing. Whether we spend three or more hours or five minutes a day in prayer, we are always learning and growing. There are no experts in prayer, as we are all apprentices.
So, how do I pray? When this is asked of me I always point the person to Matthew 6:9-13 or Luke 11:1-4. These passages are both called the Lord's Prayer. However, they are not prayers; rather, they are "patterns" or templates for us on how to pray. Many Christians over the centuries have memorized these passages as prayers and recite them every day like a mantra. This memorization is a great thing to do, but the passages are not prayers; rather, they are the instructional guides on how to pray. To recite these passages as prayers is like giving a recipe to your dinner guests while forgoing the preparing of the meal. You may think this is silly; who would eat a recipe? But, this is exactly what we are doing with prayer! It is like getting a picture of a car and thinking you can drive that picture to work.
The passages in Matthew and Luke give us the quintessential template on how to pray. Jesus is calling us to a relationship with Him; and, to do that, we are to seek Him. We do this with communication, as we would talk with anyone, with the emphasis on our sincerity. Jesus, in the verses preceding the Matthew passage, is attacking hypocrites who just make a show of it. Their prayers-public or private-were not genuine. We have to be real and poured out to Him (John 3:30; Gal. 2:20-21; Phil. 3:1-14). To make this real and effective, Jesus gives us a systematic how to do it checklist. We can then know how and for what to pray, so our own needs do not get all of the attention, and we will not grandstand ourselves with pride and hypocritical actions. Thus, we are not to approach prayer to get what we want, but to get closer to God, as that is what He wants!
Jesus tells us that our prayers are not just selfish wish lists to get God to cater to our needs and whims; rather, their true purpose is for us to be shaped by what He has revealed, and to grow in character, perseverance, and maturity. The reason Jesus is using very strong language, as in condemning those self-gratifying prayers, is that they had bad motivations. Bad motivations come from an improper understanding of God, His precepts, and His call; thus, they seek approval from people and are unconcerned about God (Matt. 11:25; John 11:41; Acts 27:35). The Jewish leaders knew better; to them, God knew everything. Thus, Jesus was challenging their hearts and motivations, not their knowledge.
We have to realize that not all prayers are acceptable to God (Prov. 28:9; Isa. 59: 1-2; Luke 18:9-14; 1 Pet. 3:12), because God looks for our motivations first, which is crucial. Jesus is not saying in the Matthew passage not to pray publicly; rather, it is about our influence on others. Our private prayers are the ones that shape us; our public prayers are the ones that are to help others to be shaped and be in spiritual agreement to express praise, worship, seek forgiveness from God and one another, confess sins, make petitions for one another, and teach one another (Luke 11:2-4; Acts 1:14; 4:24).
Jesus often taught His disciples about the importance of perseverance, faith, and humility in prayer (Luke 11:1-13; 18:1-14). He wanted them to realize that prayers are directed to God, not people, and are to be heard by God, not others (Psalm 65:2; Heb. 11:6). Therefore, make sure your motivations are upright, and that you are offering up the kind of prayers that will please God! Real, authentic prayers are intimate, not a 'business model' as the pagans and Greeks saw prayer.
Prayer is not about what we want or us; it is about growing close to God. It is acknowledging that He is the Boss, He is Sovereign and Lord, and we are to be grateful beyond measure for the relationship and communication we can have with Him (Col. 1:15-23; 1 Thess. 5:16-18). Prayer is a two-way communication between God, our Creator, and us! We are made for relationships, and communication is essential for effective, relational growth. For the Christian, prayer is one of the main ways to grow in faith and maturity in our Christian formation; alongside this includes getting into the Word with personal study and devotions, solid, group Bible study, teaching, and the various disciplines of the faith.
Consider this, why waste your time with repetition when our God is sovereign; we do not need to use superfluous words! God is not swayed by the quantity of our words, but by the quality of our heart, offered with a merciful spirit (Matt. 18:21-23; James 2:13). We get far more out of any conversation when we say things differently and say new things. Would you tell your mom or spouse the same sentences over and over again? Then why do this with God? Jesus was condemning the Jewish leaders who, to get what they wanted, used overload prayers to tire God out with their many prayers and formulas that were repeated over and over again. The point of the condemnation is that they knew better! Do we know better? What are our motivations in prayer-to grow closer to Him or just to get what we want? The answers will help determine where we are in our spiritual formation.
Thus, prayer is sacred and of the utmost importance, and is not to be just a liturgical exercise or repeated rhetoric. Rather, it is to be a part of our passionate yearning for Christ's work in our life. If we diverge from our prayers to vain repetitions, saying something to catch the attention of others, or just having to say something so we are heard, they will have no value or meaning. We must see this as empty and vacant compared to the call of our Lord! This is not to say we should not persist in asking God for something, as long it is biblical (Luke 18: 1-8), but we are not to be wrapped up in our own words, how we say them, try to fit a pattern (other than Jesus pattern), or to impress someone. Just make sure your prayers are not insincere and meaningless repetition (Matt. 26: 36-44; 2 Cor. 12:7-8)! Prayer must be sincere, heartfelt, and real! God is impressed by what is in your heart, not with your quantity or quality of words.
Abraham Lincoln was asked why he was not praying that God would be on "our" side during the American Civil War. He responded, "We do not pray that God is on our side; we pray that we are on His side!" Are you on His side? We can start by keeping our prayer life focused on God, not what others are doing. We are to keep our eyes on God, not on people! If you only seek God for your needs, you will never understand God or yourself, or His wonderful plan for you (John 17:22)! Your faith will be on your terms only. How sad that would be! How much you would lose out on the growth and opportunities He has for you!
The Pattern of Prayer
First off, there is no "method" or process on how to pray, as there is no specific principle on how to talk to your mom or best friend. We just do it. Yes, there is edict, attitude, and good ways versus bad ways to communicate. Thus, God does give us a pattern as a checklist to make sure our time and attitude are lined up to more of His will and less of ours. We must make sure we use our payer time with purpose and effectiveness.
The disciples had trouble understanding what prayer was all about! During their day, prayer was about mere rituals and complicated liturgy that was not understood by the people, and it was greatly misused. The Sadducees did not believe in prayer and the Pharisees made a convoluted show of it. Thus, prayer by the religious leaders of the day was regulated to meaningless, elaborate rituals intended to entertain the public or to make themselves look good. These "pre-made" prayers seemed unapproachable to the people because they themselves did not know how to pray!
Jesus starts out telling us that prayer is not a mystical mystery; rather, we can, by ourselves and without a priest, go before our Holy God and make our petitions and our heart known to Him and commune with Him. Jesus is basically showing us how to relate to Him through intimacy, emptying our will so our heart is exposed to Him as we would with any true, intimate encounter. Thus the mortar of prayer built the Early Church until it disintegrated into the chaos that it was in Jesus' day. Prior to the Reformation, prayer had reverted again to mere ritual and meaningless rhetoric. The prayers were all in Latin and contained elaborate theological terms that the people did not understand. No one was given an opportunity to be educated to learn it unless he was a priest or a physician. Luther and Calvin were challenged to seek Christ; in so doing, they relearned what prayer was all about and communicated that to us.
This model of prayer from Mathew 6: 9-13 and Luke 11:1-4 place the emphasis on God and His glory (as all models must be), not on man! This is called brevity (brief and sincere). We ask that God be glorified before we can seek our request in a clear and concise manner. However, being brief does not mean being limited in the time you spend with Him. The more time you spend in prayer the more you will grow in your Christian formation. The point is to be sure you are not praying in circles with vain repetitions. Rather, cover more ground with requests for others and praise for God.
Let's look at some of the key words from Matthew:
· Father is the Aramaic word for daddy or papa-a very dear, intimate, personal reference of honor to the head of the family. It includes endearment and love without fear of reprisal. In our prayer life, we are to first see God as God, to reverence Him, and be devoted to Him. For us, this means we have been called to intimacy with Him. This does not mean to be taken as we say daddy. It is not a cheap saying, or a word to put God in just a friend category. We need to realize that we are adopted in His family, and He loves us ever so deeply. We must see God as Sovereign and Holy, to be feared with reverence and respect. Yet, He is still God, Creator, and Sovereign (Duet. 7:21; Neh. 4:14; Psalm 48:1; 86:10; 95:3; 97:2; 145:3; Dan. 9:4; 1 Cor. 13:12; Heb. 12:28,29)!!
· Hallowed be Your Name means our prayer life is to focus on His holiness, mightiness, and the omnipresence (He is everywhere transcending time and space), and omnipotence (all powerful) of God. He is the holy Judge, Creator, Savior, and Sustainer of all things; yet, He personally knows and loves us with deeper and more love than we could ever comprehend. So, we are commanded to keep His name holy, as in the first two commandments. This helps us understand the wonder and majesty of our incredible God (Isa. 5:16; 29:23; Ezek. 36:23; 38:23; 39:7, 27; Zech. 14:9)! Reverence is the true response that leads to worship for all who come before God (Psalm 89:5-18; Prov. 1:7, 29: 3:5-9; 2 Cor. 7:1; Eph. 5:21; 1 Thess. 5:12-13; 1 Pet. 2:13-14; 3:15a). It is recognizing and honoring the authority of God with awe and fear because He is God, and He is more awesome than anything or anyone-period! This helps us to take the incredible knowledge of His majesty and apply it to our lives so we will walk with confidence in our Lord, and operate with respect to Him and to the others whom He knows and loves. This is essential in how we pray so we will not be anxious or fearful of what will happen or distrust God.
· Kingdom come is an essential theme in Matthew. It means government; it means our prayer life is to see Him as God and the One in charge. It is the need to be organized for purpose and direction. This means we are to yield to the exercise and implementation of our God's "Lordship," that He is our King, and hence the name, "Kingdom of God." He is sovereign; He is the total monarch of the universe. His rule is absolute. When we refuse to be governed and controlled, anarchy and chaos will result because of our sinful nature, and will cause harm to others. Thus, it is our responsibility to obey God. This characterizes our personal identification and relationship to our Lord and Savior! Our need is to bow to His Lordship for our betterment and growth! This will keep us going on the right path through the pandemonium of life (Matt. 4:23; Eph. 2:18; 2 Pet. 3:13-14)!
· Your will be done further expounds that in our prayer life, we are to seek His character and sovereignty in all things, and not attempt to bully or manipulate what we want over what He has called us to do! His needs must precede our needs because He wants what is best for us! Then, we can take comfort in the awareness that God is not hidden, nor is His will so mysterious that we cannot find it. He has our back and our best in mind! God's influence, glory, and presence are all around us; God is all present, "omnipresent," and we have no escape from Him. He reveals His presence to us in countless ways. Understanding this helps us to know from whence our direction in life comes. This is foundational for all aspects of who we are and what we do. What motivates us and creates in us our actions and behaviors will translate in our relationship with God and how we are with those around us. This will help us become the person that God desires and calls us to be.
· Give us our daily bread means we can go to God. Our prayer life does not consist of just requests for food and stuff, but also a seeking of what is necessary for now and in the future (Prov. 30:8; Matt 6:19-34). It is imagery, comparing to the manna for the wandering Jews. Just as God provided for them, He will also provide for us. As our life becomes more fulfilled in the coming Kingdom, we can come before God and request His provision for our needs. He wants to take care of and provide for us, so let Him!
· Forgive means our prayer life is to seek reconciliation with others. We have to realize that we are all sinners; we still have sin and we still do sin. Thus, we must always not only be aware of it, but also always repent from it and seek forgiveness. This is a must, a daily act, not just when we think about it or wait to be convicted of it. We must be willing to daily seek forgiveness from God and others (Matt. 5:22-25)! Our behaviors are reflections of our motives, each one leading to another, as a chain reaction. Our refusal to deal with sin through repentance will have lasting and dire consequences, both here on earth and for eternity to come! We also must be aware of the serious, destructive nature of anger and how it blocks our relationships, growth, and prayer life with God (Psalm 37:8; Prov. 6:16-19; Rom. 12:18-21; Gal. 5:19- 21; Eph. 4:31; 1 Pet. 3:7)! Do not neglect your motives and the root causes of broken relationships, sin, and murder. By being persons who seek reconciliation, we will avoid needless strife and stress in our lives-especially in the church. Having an unforgiving attitude is fatal to worship and prayer; we cannot truly worship God or pray to Him with a heart of anger, contempt, or bitterness! When we seek to worship Him in that state, it too is an extreme insult to Him! This bad attitude will have lasting consequences into judgment and eternity! If you are not able or willing to forgive others, God will be able, but unwilling to forgive you! If we truly desire to be His disciples and be committed to prayer, we will be as committed to reconciliation with others as He is with us (John 3:5; 1 Pet. 1:22-23)! We are to forgive others in response to the fact that we have been forgiven. However, the forgiveness we may give to others will never compare to the forgiveness Christ has given us! (See our Character study on Forgiveness.)
· Do not lead us into temptation means our prayer life will greatly help us not sin when we are tested or we go through trials, and will help us through them (Psalm 141:3-4). In fact, I have seen many studies over the years that stated that married couples who pray together regularly rarely divorce! Prayer keeps us in His will and away from temptations. Trials are primary means for growth and maturity. That does not mean prayer will keep us from them altogether. If that were so, we would never grow spiritually. We have to be persons who have received grace and have the knowledge of what we have in God first in our mindset. Then, as we are able to see how we have been forgiven, we can really, truly forgive others.
We can see from these passages a clear pattern of prayer that will please our Lord and God, and that acknowledges Him as Sovereign, so we can trust and grow in Him. True prayer comes from a sincere and humble Christian, offered with a merciful spirit, who is not interested in making a public display for the sake of pleasing others or seeking prestige. Prayer will help us see His perfection and receive His mercy and grace to help us, and others through us, in times of need, so we can find that peace that guards our hearts and mind (Phil. 4:6-7; Heb. 4:14-16). In order for this to happen, we must be willing and able to open and surrender our heart and Will to Him. If not, we will be living on the wrong floor of life!
The ACTS of Prayer
A.C.T.S is an acronym or axiom that points us to the Lord's Prayer and other Scripture, and gives us precepts so we can divide up our time and purpose to engage in prayer with a correct devotion and attitude. "ACTS" refers to the percepts of prayer-the categories of Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication.
· Adoration, means to worship and acknowledge the majesty of God-Praise be to God!Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. This is about the greatness of God, His incredible omnipresence, omnipotence and omniscience, His sovereign nature and rule, and His complete holiness. It also indicates the incredible, wonderful privilege that He cares for us and hear us. This means our prayer life is to recognize His Sovereignty so we can honor Him as LORD over all, over our lives and all that is around us. This helps us trust Him and place Him first in our lives. This is to be our duty and desire that comes from our gratitude for what He has done for us. We can see the awesome privilege we have to know Him and to commune with Him. We come to understand His love and grace for us, so we can have a greater delight in Him, not just as a necessity, a law, or a ritual, but living our life because of who He is. When we truly love the Lord, we will reverence Him and grow in our relationship to Him. This transfers to us in a prayer for further dedication. We are to be dedicated to God not just by our words, deeds, and promises but also by our will, heart, and mindsets and with our whole being. Knowing that God is in charge helps us realize we belong to God and weare not our own; we are in Him, a much greater purpose. This means when we pray, we should begin our time adoring and praising God. Praise Him for who He is! Then, look over all that is in your life (even if you think you do not have much) and all He has done for you. God delights in your praises!
· Confession. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. This means we are to see our sins and agree with God about the things that we have done wrong. During our prayer times, things will come to our mind that will not be pleasant to recall. We will be convicted of our sins and failure, where we have not been truthful, or have exaggerated or missed His precious opportunities for doing good. We will have genuine sorrow for what we have done and left undone. Then, we are called to deal with it and make restitution where we can, seeking His forgiveness and going to others for forgiveness where we wronged them. Keep track of these items that God brings to us, our sins. Know that God will forgive me all my sins.Confess also means we are called to be accountable to one another, to state what we are going through and are struggling with to someone in confidence who will listen and help guide us by His Word. It is not about going to a pastor or priest, but to God directly, in and with accountability, with another trusted person, small group, or mentor. We cannot grow closer to God when we have unconfessed sin in our lives; these sins act as a barrier, cutting off our communion with Him. We cannot do the Christian life by ourselves; it is not a spectator or individual sport! Christianity is not for lone rangers; it is for community (1 John 1:9)!
· Thanksgiving-for Thine is the Kingdom and the power and the glory forever. This means in our prayer life, we are to be grateful for what He has done for us. We are to go over His mercies, all that He has done for us. They are more than you know! He truly and deeply loves you beyond your ability to fathom it. He provides, nurtures, and protects you and gives you hope and a purpose for life. Look at your family, friends, health, home, love, work, books, fun, a night of rest. In our times of prayer, we are to bring our attitude to His will. Remove your pride and seek Him first and foremost in all occasions so to live your life in gratitude to God for all things. Have the inward awareness that God has indeed been with you "all through the day."
· Supplication, Give us today this daily bread . . . Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one is a fervent, personal petition, letting God know of our needs. This is called petition, our earnest, humble request before God. It is the seeking of not only personal needs, but for the needs of others as well. It is sharing our requests before God with the attitude that He does provide, but it may not be what we want or think we need. We need to learn how to depend upon Him and to express and develop real, impacting faith. This is only one small component of our prayer life, yet, most will spend most of their time and energies here while others, seeking to be humble, never venture here. It probably accounts for over 95% of all prayer requests. This is not to be our only aspect of prayer. We are to intercede for others, seek forgiveness of our sins, seek His will, and most importantly, we are to praise and adore Him! Petition is a vital component, but not the only piece. Make sure you have a well-balanced prayer life that is not selfish, but that does not ignore your needs either. In this component, we are also to make intercession for others-Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." To pray for others is intercession, the understanding of the needs of others and bringing those before God. This is exercising love and kindness, and showing our unity in the Body of Christ (John 17). Start to make a prayer list. Pray for others as their needs come to you; pray for your city, state and country, your leaders, missionaries, government officials, and persecuted Christians in the world, as well as God's for guidance, wisdom, and opportunities for you and your church and all that can come to you, and for you and them to grow and to serve. Be specific and be real!
The Lord's Prayer and this ACTS guide that is derived from it help center us and keep us on His track. This is not meant to be a rigid blueprint or for us to have canned prayers; rather, it is a method and guide to help us build our prayer time. This ACTS has been around for many decades and has served many countless Christians well. It should serve you well too! Use this method to ask God for guidance all through the day. Use this as a discipline to praise Him, be thankful, and to seek needs. Every breath you take, every step you make, and every task you do is to be spent in Him. You are already His child, so live that way as people of prayer. Fore think and foresee your day with Him.
We can pray for forgiveness, for our nation, show our gratitude, and even pray for the weather. Thus, in all things, we are to be in personal and collective prayer with other believers. Remember, prayer is not just a means to get what we request; it is the means to line us up with God, His precepts, and His presence. Prayer can meet all things and needs, and in everything we will ever face in life, from the trivial to the utmost of importance, prayer can and must be a significant part! We can take confidence that our prayers are heard and are answered. No matter what we need or face, we have Christ! Thus, we must preface, surround, and empower everything we do by prayer. It is never to be an afterthought, rather our first thought, our principle action, and our primary plan.
Stuck? Here are some practical helps:
· Break up your prayer times. Spend time when you first get up; look over your day and all that you need to do, seek His help, and be open to His opportunities and His presence for growth, learning, and more! Then, spend some more time with Him when you are about to go to bed. Use this time to go over your day, what you have learned, and what you can do better in the future. And then, commit yourself to God again.
· Do not be overwhelmed; start to take baby steps-that is, start with five minutes a day in the morning and again in the evening before bed. Then, slowly start to add to it. Keep in mind our Lord's Prayer; give praise to God, seek His will, and seek His instructions, His Kingdom. Do not forget to listen! Ask for forgiveness of your sins!
· Concentrate, that is, focus on God. The priority is your sanctification, your learning, and your growth in Him. This is best done in a quiet place, free from distractions. Thus, praying in front of the TV with your favorite show on is not a good idea. This disrupts God and keeps you unfocused!
· Seek to free your mind of stress, worry, and distractions, so Jesus is the only One and item in your mind. This is hard and takes practice, but the more you do it, the better you will become at it.
· If you still feel stuck in prayer, read the newspaper and pray for items in your nation and in the county in which you live, and for your neighbors. Also, read though the Bible and pray. Seek first the kingdom of God! Ask God for the mission that He has given you.
· Read a Bible passage or sing a hymn and use these as prayer templates.
· Find a quite place where there are no distractions.
· Try to pray out loud; this will help you concentrate! Use the Lord's Prayer is a great and the best template. Remember, it is a model for prayer and not a prayer! Go through each petition/stanza and spend time in it. You can also use the 10 commandments or Colossians 1.
Try to start with baby steps-10 minutes a day for a month. Then, in the second month, increase it to 15 minutes, the third month, 20 minutes, and so on. Your goal is to have at least one hour of a day in prayer-free from distractions and a wandering mind. If this is too much and your mind wanders, just remember to break the time up throughout the day-one-third in the morning, one-third during the midday, and one-third before bed.
We end our payers with Amen, which means, "So let it be!" It is the wording of your confidence in God and His love for you. This is an affirmation of the goodness and power of our loving God who has heard us and is acting upon the prayer we have offered. It is trust in and reliance on your relationship with God. One day, you will get to heaven and then you will realize all that prayer did on this earth; you will amazed at how God used you and you will be ashamed of what you missed praying for. The remembrances of all people in need, prayers for loved ones, leaders, pastors, and our church will have made a real difference! So, pray! And, make sure your prayers are real, authentic, not too general, and not weak, and you will be mightily used!
Richard Joseph Krejcir is the Director of "Into Thy Word Ministries," a missions and discipling ministry. He is the author of the book, Into Thy Word, and is also a pastor, teacher, and speaker. He is a graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California (M.Div.) and studies in London, England (Ph.D, Doctor of Philosophy in Practical Theology). He has garnered over 20 years of pastoral ministry experience, mostly in youth ministry, including serving as a church growth consultant.
© 2005 Richard J. Krejcir Ph.D. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership, www.churchleadership.org