Do you feel connected to God when you pray? Prayer Part III
Psalm 84; Matthew 26:36-46; 27:45-46; Luke 11:9-13; Philippians 4:6-7; Colossians 4:2-6; 1 Thessalonians 5:18; James 4:8
If not, have you considered your outlook on prayer? It seems that most Christians view prayer as a happening but not a habit, an occurrence but not an occupation, and rarely with fervency. And, if it is a habit, is it also a relationship? Prayer must be more because God wants to be more in our lives! Prayer must be moved from the occasional occurrence to the rendezvous of our relationship. For that reason, I challenge you to examine your spiritual direction; if it is not good or as it should be, take a careful look at how you view and practice prayer! Ask yourself how can I make it more? and, What is in the way of this happening? Consider that no one has a sufficient prayer life. Even Billy Graham says his prayer life is not what he would like it to be¾and he spends one to three hours in prayer a day! Thus, to know if we have a vital prayer life, we need to realize that one of the main indicators is a desire for more! Do you want more?
To pursue a more vibrant prayer life, we have to be willing and able to saturate ourselves with it and in it! Also, we need a desire to move our prayer life from the occasional extracurricular activity to a passionate pursuit, and carry out prayer sincerely, earnestly, and vibrantly with His Spirit and Truth! This means prayer must become more than a just thing we do; rather, it becomes an attitude and a constant pursuit. We grow beyond our regular prayer times; we still have them, but we no longer limit ourselves to pray just at those times. We realize that because Christ is constantly with us, we can constantly commune and converse with Him wherever we are and whatever we are doing.
Prayer is our primary means of communication with our Lord. It is also the bond that builds community, churches, and marriages, as it energizes and brings out God's love! It is a marvel and a wonder that we, as created human beings, can obtain direct communication with God, the Creator and Sustainer of the universe! Prayer shows us His love and concern for us just by His allowing us to make our presence and requests known, and His even further, unfathomable love in that He earnestly hears us and gives us an answer and intervention! Prayer is precious; it is not to be a half-hearted endeavor or just an empty routine, an unctuous ceremony, or a meaningless ritual. Prayer is not about the recitation of words nor is it about posture, place, or expression usage; it is an outpouring of the posture of our heart to His. Prayer is an expression of our connection of love for what Christ has done for us in giving each of us this precious relationship with God. It shows our love and dependence on Him. It is a primary avenue for learning about and growing in Him, and being better equipped in life to touch others in His Name. Therefore, it is a relationship of dependency, as any real growth must involve the surrender of our will to His. Prayer pulls us up by the roots and plants us further in His presence and His will. Beware! We are deceiving ourselves if we think we can live our Christian lives without prayer, as one could be married or have a child and never have communication with that spouse or child. It could be done, but the relationship would be absent and soon would be null and void; we cannot do life on our own. Even if we could (and many Christians seem to try it), God just might let us; this would really be a time for fear and dropping to our knees!
The pursuit of continual prayer does not happen overnight. It may take years to develop the discipline for prayer to become second nature, automatic, and continual. Normally for most Christians, prayer is intermittent when we have the time, when we schedule it, and so forth. We still should do our scheduled prayer times; however, the point is that we do it not only at our scheduled prayer times! We do this not to just maintain our relationship with Christ, but to empower it further, to build it, and pursue Him totally in our lives. This is not just a job¾it is our main job. It is not just a function¾but our main function. It is not just a preparation¾but our main preparation. It is not just a calling¾but the main calling of our Christian lives. It is not a duty¾but our main duty. It is the groundwork and structure of His foundation upon which we build all we do. To be vital and useful Christians, we must be praying Christians¾not just for a few minutes a day or when it is convenient, but always and continually in a reverent attitude of prayer! Prayer is meant to line us up in Christ and to conform us to Him, so it builds us up in Him.
There are all kinds of reasons and excuses we can give for not doing this, such as time or I do not know how, but the bottom line is that this is our direct call from our Lord. It is His high calling upon our hearts and we must respond to Him. Our churches in the West are failing, as a whole, because prayer has been left out. We think we have moved beyond the checklist mentality to see if we have done our devotions, spent time in prayer, or witnessed to someone today. We think we have become more mature. But, if we really take a close look, we will see that we are not spending a significant amount of time in prayer, and our devotions are lacking! Consequently, our churches and personal lives become lacking of His presence and power. When we leave God out and chase our own ideas and trends thinking we are honoring Him, we are actually forsaking Him and leaving behind a wrecked church instead of a triumphant church! What the church needs and what God wants is that we not just talk about or plan for prayer, but that we actually do it¾and do it persistently! We are to be committed to prayer by actually scheduling and practicing it as much as is conceivable. Then we will see God's mighty work in our lives, both personally and collectively as a church (Luke 11:1; John 4:23-24; 7:37-38; Acts 2:33).
We are called to Prevailing Prayer
Does this seem unfathomable and unrealistic to you? Consider that our Prevailing Prayer unlocks the warehouse of God's endless love, forgiveness, grace, and power. Prevailing Prayer subsequently moves us so we can move others to know Him, too. Prevailing Prayer will help move the church to move the world! Prevailing Prayer is our fervent, consistent, and to a degree, persistent prayer until we get through what we are dealing with, whether it is in our personal life or our intercession for another person. Prayer is the conquering force, as it must conquer our will so we can take hold of His. It places the ramps to lay siege to the problems of life while surrounded by the fortress of His love. The real questions we have to ask are why am I not doing this? Why is my church not doing this (Psalm 2:8; Matt. 6:5-15; 12: 9-21; Luke 18:1; 1 Thess. 5:17; Heb. 10:22)?
Maybe to you and/or to your church, prayer is a means to getting what you want. When we are praying for some kind of emotional or physical healing, are we really seeking Him or just expressing our wishes (Matt. 7: 7-12; Luke 18:1-8)? Are we seeking His truth or ours? The Pharisees did not want the truth or what God had; they only wanted their postulations and the power to rule (Matt. 23). Are we robbing God of the opportunities He tries to give us? Do we mix them up with habits, pride, and traditions? Do we make grandstand pretences, showing off our faith while we have a heart full of soot? Do our attitudes, desires, and passions line up with the precepts of His Word, or express our own selfish political agendas? Passion is paramount, but it has to be grounded in God's truth, not the ideas and desires of man. We must seek initiative and inspiration from Christ, not from traditions. Do not practice your faith through the filter of traditions or habits. Rather, filter faith through the clarity of God's Word! Prevailing Prayer will help us navigate through what is selfish and not right to what is of God and is His plan. It is all about being conformed to Him, not to our ideas or desires.
Prayer is not just about what our own needs are. It is about putting our lives and experiences in Him, sharing our days and lives, both in times of urgency and times of happiness, times of stillness and times of stress, and bringing others into our thoughts and prayers. It is about getting spiritual direction for all we do in life. Continual and effective prayer will build our relationship with God. We will come to realize that He is in charge of all that happens in our lives, and that we are in His Hands. How we interact with Christ as Lord and respond to others is rooted in how we communicate. Our spiritual growth and how we connect to God with an effectual relationship is determined by how effective our prayer life is. It can be put this way: all we do in life is based on our ability to communicate, and our principle communication is to our loving Lord!
We are made for prayer. However, prayer is not just a means to fill our needs. It is not a tool used merely to get our way and will. Prayer is to bring us closer to Christ. Never waste your time with God seeking what you cannot have. Just as the role of the Holy Spirit is to intercede for us, we are called to do the same for one another (Mark 11:16-17; 1 Cor. 6:19; Heb. 7:25). So, do we?
To further receive His empowerment, we must pursue prayer significantly, earnestly, and uncompromisingly with humility because Christ and His wonders are already at our disposal. To be conformed to Christ is never a platform to manipulate Him or demand what we want! God is not our divine bellhop who delivers the luggage of our wishes! Prayer is not just for a crisis or a dilemma; if this is all we do with it, we are expressing a serious emptiness of our trust and His work in us. If you never talked to your best friend except when you urgently needed his or her assistance for some personal problem or to help you move, how "best" would your friendship be? To keep that friendship "玓best,玔" a deeper relationship of genuine trust and communication must be pursued joyfully. This is how we are to approach God with our appeals! When we make Him irrelevant in the rest of our lives, we will be blinded to His opportunities and empowerment. However, prayer will open our eyes to Him and what He has for us.
The key to practicing prayer more effectively is to know more about Him. The disciplines of the faith will help empower your payer life as your prayer life will empower your faith and discipline. Each begets the other; each needs the other. The disciplines of daily reading and knowing Scripture will help expose what you need to pray for. Fasting will help empty your self-will and make you more focused on Him. Fellowship will help you see the needs and opportunities of others, and so forth.
How our Prayers get Through
Remember, as a Christian you are a child of God; your prayers are always heard! There is no prayer that is too small, too big, or too hard. But also remember, when we are not living our lives for Him, our prayers will be hindered. What about putting more bounce in our prayer step? First, as I have already stated, He indeed hears us! We can have the confidence to go before Him and address Him. This is an incredible opportunity¾far greater than it would be for any famous person you idolize to come to your door for dinner! Going before God is more precious and real than meeting for a private audience with the president of the USA. Our audience is Christ who loves and hears us (John 14:6; 16:23-27; Rom. 8:34)!
Prayer is not like just trying to get the laundry done, nor is it a grocery list of things to do and get. Rather, it is our existence in Him, from the innermost enclaves of our being (Rom. 12:12, Eph. 6:18; Phil. 4:6; Col. 4:2; 1 Thess. 5:17; 2 Thess. 1:11; 1 Peter 4:7; Jude 20). For effective prayer to happen, we must come to God and acknowledge His Sovereignty and Holiness. He knows us beyond that we know ourselves; nothing can be hidden from Him. So, we have to be real, be honest, be ourselves, and make sure our motives are right. We cannot pretend; He always knows. When we are real, we are honoring Him! We need to have a soul that desires to be in God's courts (Psalm 84:2, 10; John 10:9). We need to desire to be with Him, to praise Him, and to bring Him glory (Psalm 50:14-15; 100:4; 1 Cor. 3:16, 23; 6:19-20).
Even though we are heard, we can be heard clearer and better when we increase our receptivity. As a better radio antenna will get you better reception, a better Christian life and the antenna of our faith will further empower our prayers. First, our attitude must be sincere and humble. Remember, we are going before our Holy LORD, so we must acknowledge His holiness, not just our friendship with Him. This means being reverent and worshipful. Then, through our frailty, reality, and humbleness, we are to pray continually. Then we can examine what we are saying to our Lord. Our words and thoughts should be specific and to the point. We can enjoy communing with Him, but say what we came to say. And, as I have said before, never, never seek to manipulate and control the Sovereign God of the universe! We are never to seek to manipulate God to get our way, even as we are not to do so with others. In this spirit, we can come to one another and seek accountability and reconciliation.
Our prayers get through when we can confess and be on guard with sin, so it stops rather than fester or escalate. And, as Elijah demonstrated to us (First Kings 17-21), always remember that a righteous person is a praying person. We cannot do anything of meaning or significance for our Lord unless we are a person and a church of prayer!
Many times, I have felt stuck in my prayer life. I could pick up the church directory and pray through it (which I do one or more times each week), or pray through the newspaper (which I still do), but I felt I needed more. I sometimes did not know what to pray for other than the obvious trials and pains of ministry life and the needs of being a missionary. I learned over the years to try to be more specific; when I do that, many more items come into my mind to pray for and my times of prayer go fast, and yet I still want so much more. I always seek to see the intimacy of my relationship with Christ and build from that. As I go through my daily life, I try to have a mindset of prayer and pray naturally as I go to the store, drive, visit with people, and write. The more I do this, the easier and automatic it becomes. I have even found myself starting to pray for people in movies and on TV, and then quickly realizing, OH! This is not real! Years ago, to build my prayer life, I would first consider my family, then friends, church members, coworkers, neighbors, and acquaintances. Then, I would move to political and religious leaders and organizations, then to current events, through countries where I know the people who are working there, and so forth. I still do this, but it has become more automatic, and more items come to my attention than I ever considered before, such as praying for pastors who have fallen and their families. To pray more, consider your community and the events around you. Learn more about them so you can pray for them specifically (without gossip!). This is a necessity for a church to grow and thrive (Mark 10:50-52; Phil. 4:6). If the church is to be better connected to the purpose and reason we exist (which is Christ), we must commune more in and with Him (Matt. 6:5-8; 21:22; Phil. 4:19; James 1:6-8; 4:8)!
The next key to a vital prayer life is to realize that all that is around us (us included) are in Him and in His sovereign control. He hears us before we can even think of what to say. Because He is worthy, we can have confidence in Him (1 John 5:14-15). Thus, we use this knowledge to further our faith and trust in Him. We have a God who is worthy of our praise and thus we can surrender ourselves to Him (Psalms 37:5; John 3:30; Gal. 2:20-21; Phil. 3:1-14)! We need to surrender our will over to His, including our attitudes, ideas, and inspirations so His purpose can take hold of us. Then, we can know more about what to pray for and what not to pray for, stuff that is outside of His will, or what is not best for us or our church, and allow His great and best work to transpire regardless of the outcome, because we know that His will be the best outcome! The more we know Him, the more we know for what and how to pray. Do not let your prayers be limited because your understanding of and your trust in Him is limited! We need to get our attitude lined up, allow our pride to be relinquished so our obedience and love will overcome our distractions. Then, we can pray more earnestly and with more perseverance because our faith, confidence, and will are in Him (Matt. 6:10; 19:26; Mark 12:30; Luke 18:1-8; Eph. 3:20; 6:18; 1 Thess. 5:17).
Remember, one of the roles of the Holy Spirit is to bring our prayers in an expedited way directly to God. He is the One who increases our prayers, as in supercharges them and fills us in on what we need to know¾like cement to bricks¾and He even architects it for us! We must allow Him to be our Guide and fill us up with His presence, power, and the specifics we need for what we do not recognize or comprehend. Best of all, He is always with us (John 14:16-17, Rom. 8:26-27; Heb. 13:5-6; 1 John 2:1)!
Our Response to Prayer!
How does all of this happen? The key is being continually devoted to Christ. Continue earnestly (Col. 4:2-6)! This phrase in Colossians continues the theme to set our minds on things above, meaning to be in "fullness" with Christ (Col. 3:2). This attitude is what spurs on our commitment and our outreach. Without persevering with Christ, we cannot persevere persuasively, or even at all with others. Our fullness in Christ will reflect His work in us and be the beacon of hope to others! In Colossians, praying refers to more of a "militant prayer," as in urgent and vigorous, not weak or superficial. Prayer is our dependence on Christ and our platform for His power (Eph. 1:15-20; 6:18-20). Because of what Christ did for us, we will want the same for the lives of others (1 Cor. 16:9).
Do you realize that when we devote ourselves more to Christ, we have more opportunities in life and ministry? Why would any Christian not want that? The call is simple and the action to make this call, to be devoted to Christ as Lord, is a simple endeavor. To have a mindset that our relationship with Christ must be preserving and persevering, our will needs to be open so it can be shaped and formed by Him! Yet, this can be very hard for most Christians! First, we are to be in prayer¾in direct communication with Christ. And, when we engage in prayer or in any action regarding our Lord (and that would be all things in life), our minds are to be alert. We are also to be grateful, to have a thankful attitude and composure. When we have these right attitudes, then we have the right aptitude. With a heart and mind shaped by Christ, we can remember others and keep them in specific prayer. Then, we will see the opportunities that He brings us and be able and willing to proclaim His message of grace to those around us in a good attitude and lifestyle. As Saint Francis said, if you need to, even use words. Then, we can place ourselves into situations where God will use us to impact others. But the key is to remain in Him and not allow the world and its evil desires to influence us; rather, be the influencers to them!
Prayer¾earnest and real prayer¾will help us go beyond ourselves and into the lives of others. By our example and faith, others will be spurred on further in the faith by our attitudes, lifestyles, and deeds. It is about Christ'玏s work, not our efforts. We can then walk closer with and wiser in Him so we will see the opportunities He has for us. We then can do them, not by our abilities, but by allowing Him to work in and through us. Paul was in prison when this letter was written. He did not seek to be released, even though he must wanted to be. Rather, he sought how the Lord could use him, regardless of his situation. This was an example of real prayer, to allow Thy will, not my will. Paul sought opportunities for ministry, not opportunities for his freedom. In other words, he placed the call of God over his perceived needs and desires, even if they were good (2 Cor. 13:7; Eph. 1:16-23; Phil. 1:9). Perhaps we can grow ever so much more with such a mindset, to see opportunities to make our Lord known and not just to make ourselves feel good (1 Cor. 16:9; 2 Cor. 2:12; 1 Pet. 3:15-17; Rev. 3:7-8).
When we have the right attitude and aptitude to set our minds on Him, we can be used more powerfully and effectively for those around us. Our prayers and deeds will show His love and care. Our relationships and the people we have prayed for will ooze His love and precepts because our minds will be focused on Him, our hope and heart poured out to Him. Others will see Christ through us and receive the power and impact of the Spirit as God uses us as examples. What an incredible opportunity we have! Let us make the most of it (Psalm 1:1-3; 119:97-104)!
The Power of Prayer
James 5:13-18 tells us in the context of prayer to sing songs, meaning to praise our Lord, in unity, with willing, loving hearts. It can be a literal song we sing, but it actually is more of an attitude and passionate reverence. This is an aspect of real worship and music, which is never a show; rather, it is the response of our love giving praise. We, as a congregation, are the performers, and Christ is the audience. Real, authentic worship is to be inspired by who Christ is and what He is doing in us. It is not about form, function, or type; it is about hearts showing love to Him. Prayer and worship share the same heart and attitude (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:12-17).
When James tells us about the power of faith, he is referring to trusting in God and then being faithful in our intercessory duty to others. It does not mean a "special power" as some have proclaimed; rather, it is a call to action, showing our Christian community and faith displayed in our care toward one another. What matters to God over anything else is how we respond and learn. It all comes down to asking, being real, being honest, being ourselves, and making sure our motives are right. We will know our prayers are being heard when we show the love and care of our Lord. If we are earnestly praying, and perhaps are frustrated that the answer we desire has not come, remember that while we are waiting, God is working immeasurably more than we could ever know (Matt. 21:22; John 14:14)!
Prayer needs perseverance! Still feel stuck because that power is not there? Then, as Jesus told us, keep asking (Matt. 7: 7-12)! Jesus shows us the virtue of perseverance and its application in prayer. Our motivation to persist in our service to God is the desire to draw near to Him for what He has done for us. Consider the amount of time the Apostles, and even Jesus (when He walked this earth), spent in prayer. Now, consider how much more we need to pray, and compare that to how much time we actually spend in prayer. The Christian life does not run on autopilot. It needs persistence and constant navigational resetting as well as hands-on steering. It needs passion and conviction so His truth can get through. In order to line up our lives with His plan and will, we have to be willing and able to surrender to His concerns. We do this through knowing His Word and praying, which leads to our spiritual growth and Christian formation. The benefit of surrender is we have more security in Christ, which gives us more confidence, faith, peace, and empowerment for life and ministry (Psalm 1:1-3; 119:97-104).
Remember, prayer is not a vending machine where we can pick what we want, and what we want to do. Rather, it is aligning our mindset with His. Many people have mistaken the passage in Matthew 7 to think that God is a divine bellhop who will give us what we seek and what we want if we just have enough faith. But, that is plainly not the message this passage is meant to give us. Yes, we are to seek, we are to knock, and we are to be persistent with our prayers. But, we are not to seek only our selfish concerns. Prayer is seeking the Son-ship/Lord-ship of Christ because He is in control, not just because of a friendship with Him. Prayer is the instrument with which to seek His Will , not ours.
Jesus tells us blatantly, ask and it will be given. This is a very bold and direct statement, which is rare if not non-existent in other languages and cultures of the time, including Hebrew law and writings. He is telling us that we have the right and the ability (by what Christ has done on the cross) to go directly to God in prayer. There is no need for intermediaries, special priests, or rituals. There is also a promise in this passage that gives us the confidence that He hears our prayers and even answers them. But, we are not to assume that God will answer our every whim or desire. We are not the focus of the prayer, nor are we God. He, God and Lord of the universe, is sovereign, and His will is to be sought, brought into our hearts and minds, and then put into practice. We also are to have confidence and trust that His answer is best! We often seek those things that are not beneficial or right for us because our view, understanding, and thinking do not include all of the information. We only see our temporary and immediate needs, whereas God sees it all, even the outcome.
Take it to heart that our God is willing and able to give! He wants to give every good and perfect gift to us! It is up to us to ask so we can receive it! But remember, we are always to seek what is according to His will and character as the prime prize! Prayer is a relationship to build, mold, and grow us deeper in His heart. It is not just an "asking machine" even if you have the right and pure motives, and spend your time interceding for others, as we all should. Jesus is telling us to keep on asking (inquiry), seeking (finding it), and knocking (then it will be opened to you so you can find it), and it will be given to you. Asking, plus action and perseverance equal a quest for the character and growth to be a more mature Christian. It leads us to go deeper in our relationship and be of more use to God and others.
Prayers are not to be just memorized. Rather, they are to be passionately pursued! Prayer, along with the power we receive from it, calls for commitment and is something to be accomplished! God desires that we be in close relationship to Him, not merely seeking what we can get. He will give us what we need and much more! If we only seek what we think we want, we will never have a clue to what maturity and surrender mean. Our motives, obedience, and perseverance will be the keys! Be in love with Him. Seek His presence, and be persistent in your prayers. If you fear you will ask Him for the wrong thing, remember, we all do that. As you draw closer to Him, you will learn the right things to ask. Prayer is persistence and learning! Have you asked, sought, or knocked today?
Beware of the Barriers
Have you ever wondered that if God gave you whatever you wanted, what bearing or what impact it would have on your life and faith? Would it be a hindrance? Perhaps we need to think through our dreams and wishes to their logical conclusion and impact from God's perspective. At best, what we may want may be not best for us, and at worst, it may be totally detrimental and even fatal. Prayer has some strings to it. Obviously, we need to be saved in Him, but He also requests that we trust and obey Him. His answers to our prayers are conditioned upon our abiding in Him and His will (John 15:7; James 4:3; 1 John 5:14-15)! How sad it is that so many Christians never enjoy God's favor simply because they do not ask or ask for the wrong things!
If we would have an effective prayer life, we have to recognize and remove the barriers that hinder our prayers. Yes, God is Omnipotent and Omniscience, but our prayers will be ignored if we are not right with Him as well as with one another! The first and main barrier is not forgiving one another, for either trivial or big things. If we sin or do something we are not supposed to do to another person, God is aware and so are we! Our pride may cause us to rationalize it is OK, but it is not OK. We must seek forgiveness when we realize we have done wrong and God brings it to our attention. The power and veracity in prayer happens when we are right with Him! Forgive others for their "minor" transgression (everything is minor compared to what God has done for us!) because He has forgiven us for the massive sin barrier we had that we could never have paid by ourselves (Matthew 5:23-24; Mark 11:24-25; 1 John 2:9-11).
The second hindrance to our prayers being heard is how we are living our lives. Are we living as we say we are, as we are supposed to be? We will not be perfect; forgiven, yes, but we still have the responsibility to have character and integrity as His children and representatives. Therefore, the sins we commit toward others need to be addressed before God. We live the Christian life through forgiveness and grace, but it also includes character and responsibility. We are not righteous, but we are called to live and treat others as His children, to the best of our efforts. We are not to be good or slightly better than the others we know. We are to set our hearts and minds on Him and live our lives in response to His promises and work and with gratitude for what he has done for us. The key is to realize that He is indeed trustworthy. We can demonstrate real, authentic faith by being obedient; we can do this when we are faithful and trusting in Christ. To honor God, we have to live for Him within His precepts and model His Fruit and love. If this is not happening, then we are not being acceptable to Him, rather pretenders in the faith. Why, then, would God answer us (John 9:31; 15:7-8; 2 Cor. 5:20; Heb. 11:6; 1 Peter 3:12; 1 John 3:22-23)?
The third reason our prayers become "air balls" in His court is because we are not taking hold of what He is calling us to do. If we are complacent, doing nothing with our faith and only using Him as a divine vending machine, we are exhibiting reckless and disrespectful behaviors. We all are given gifts, abilities, and a call to pursue the Christian life for His glory. We all are special, uniquely called and gifted to serve Him. We can be bold in our faith and take our trust and faithfulness to the next level. This is all about being devoted to Christ as our LORD and responding with our trust to who He is all aspects and concerns of our lives. This means being committed¾not weakly or halfheartedly or when it is convenient, but fully and wholly in Him. Thus, we must examine our lives and behaviors carefully. Are we being hypocritical or inconsistent? What about pride and humbleness? Which ones come from you? (I know I have to check myself all of the time.) If we are not being humble, or if we have a problem with pride, what are we going to do about it? Being obedient is not just a call; it is a necessity from our respect for His Sovereignty and our response of faith in Him (2 Chronicles 7:14; Heb. 4:16).
Do you need any other reason why you should pray or why your prayers should be a foundational aspect of who and what you are and do? The best reason is because Jesus did! God calls us to seek His presence both individually and as a body of believers with one mind and voice. So, why don't we?
Are you having trouble spending more than 10 minutes a day in prayer as I do at times? Here are some tips that are timeless and work. First, we need to desire and be ready for it so we can focus on Him. Whatever it is¾in a classroom, with a friend, or with God¾we have to focus our attention without distractions or preoccupations with other thoughts. We must get our minds off the clutter of life and on Christ as Savior and LORD. Slow down and be quiet so that thoughts and desires are in neutral. Start to remember how God has helped and answered you in the past. Use a pattern such as the Lord's Prayer in Matthew 6:9-15; use each stanza as a template and then insert your own intercessions, requests, and supplications. Remember to confess sins and seek forgiveness, have gratitude for all that He has done (what you see and what you do not see), and give Him praise and glory. Our goal in prayer is the practice of being in His presence, which is what we will be doing in eternity. Let us go before Him with our active faith and humbleness in conjunction with our fervency and perseverance. Do not leave your home and engage the world without first feeding your soul with prayer and His Word (Matt. 6:33; 2 Cor. 13:14; Col. 3:17; 1 John 5:14).
I write this not as an expert but as a learner who struggles. Prayer takes practice and work; it does not come quickly in the night. It takes many days and nights to begin and a lifetime to pursue. It is not about getting what we want, manipulating, or being selfish. It is all about surrendering ourselves to Him. It is a journey, it is an integral and essential part of our faith, and it is to be a continual pursuit (Psalm 71:1-8; Phil. 4:6-7; James 4:8)!
The 190 Bible References Of God's Promise to Answer Your Prayers:
Ex 6:5, Ex 22:23, Ex 22:27, Ex 33:17, Ex 33:18, Ex 33:19, Ex 33:20, Deut 4:7, Deut 4:29, Deut 4:30, Deut 4:31, 1 Kings 8:22, 1 Kings 8:53, 1 Chron 28:9, 2 Chron 6:1, 2 Chron 6:2, 2 Chron 6:3, 2 Chron 6:4, 2 Chron 6:5, 2 Chron 6:6, 2 Chron 6:7, 2 Chron 6:8, 2 Chron 6:9, 2 Chron 6:10, 2 Chron 6:11, 2 Chron 6:12, 2 Chron 6:13, 2 Chron 6:14, 2 Chron 6:15, 2 Chron 6:16, 2 Chron 6:17, 2 Chron 6:18, 2 Chron 6:19, 2 Chron 6:20, 2 Chron 6:21, 2 Chron 6:22, 2 Chron 6:23, 2 Chron 6:24, 2 Chron 6:25, 2 Chron 6:26, 2 Chron 6:27, 2 Chron 6:28, 2 Chron 6:29, 2 Chron 6:30, 2 Chron 6:31, 2 Chron 6:32, 2 Chron 6:33, 2 Chron 6:34, 2 Chron 6:35, 2 Chron 6:36, 2 Chron 6:37, 2 Chron 6:38, 2 Chron 6:39, 2 Chron 6:40, 2 Chron 6:41, 2 Chron 6:42, 2 Chron 7:13, 2 Chron 7:14, 2 Chron 7:15, Job 8:5, Job 8:6, Job 12:4, Job 22:27, Job 33:26, Ps 9:10, Ps 9:12, Ps 10:17, Ps 18:3, Ps 32:6, Ps 34:15, Ps 34:17, Ps 37:4, Ps 37:5, Ps 38:15, Ps 50:14, Ps 50:15, Ps 55:16, Ps 55:17, Ps 56:9, Ps 65:2, Ps 65:5, Ps 69:33, Ps 81:10, Ps 86:5, Ps 86:6, Ps 86:7, Ps 91:15, Ps 102:17, Ps 102:18, Ps 102:19, Ps 102:20, Ps 145:18, Ps 145:19, Prov 2:3, Prov 2:5, Prov 3:6, Prov 10:24, Prov 15:8, Prov 15:29, Prov 16:1, Isa 19:20, Isa 30:19, Isa 55:6, Isa 58:9, Isa 65:24, Jer 29:12, Jer 29:13, Jer 31:9, Jer 33:3, Lam 3:25, Ezek 36:37, Joel 2:18, Joel 2:19, Joel 2:32, Amos 5:4, Amos 5:5, Amos 5:6, Zech 2:3, Zech 10:1, Zech 10:6, Zech 13:9, Mat 6:5, Mat 6:6, Mat 6:7, Mat 6:8, Mat 6:9, Mat 6:10, Mat 6:11, Mat 6:12, Mat 6:13, Mat 7:7, Mat 7:8, Mat 7:9, Mat 7:10, Mat 7:11, Mat 18:19, Mat 18:20, Mat 21:22, Mark 11:24, Mark 11:25, Luke 11:5, Luke 11:6, Luke 11:7, Luke 11:8, Luke 11:9, Luke 11:10, Luke 11:11, Luke 11:12, Luke 11:13, Luke 18:1, Luke 18:2, Luke 18:3, Luke 18:4, Luke 18:5, Luke 18:6, Luke 18:7, Luke 18:8, Luke 21:36, John 4:10, John 4:23, John 4:24, John 9:31, John 14:13, John 14:14, John 15:7, John 15:16, John 16:23, John 16:24, John 16:26, John 16:27, Acts 7:34, Acts 22:16, Rom 8:26, Rom 10:12, Rom 10:13, Eph 2:18, Eph 3:20, Heb 4:16, Heb 10:22, Heb 10:23, Heb 11:6, James 1:5, James 1:6, James 1:7, James 4:8, James 4:10, James 5:16, 1 John 3:22, 1 John 5:14, 1 John 5:15.
Go through each of these passages one day at a time as a template for prayer (This was sent to us by a supporter of our ministry).
Richard Joseph Krejcir is the Founder and Director of "Into Thy Word Ministries," a missions and discipling ministry. He is the author of several books incuding, Into Thy Word, and A Field Guide to Healthy Relationships. He 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.
© 1990, totally revised 2005 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership, www.churchleadership.org