I started out my Christian walk in a little Pentecostal church. It was legalistic. There wasn’t a lot of freedom in Christ, but the one thing I learned was how to pray.
I often listen to believers pray and many struggle to pray for five minutes. Can you carry on a conversation with a friend for five minutes? If so, it should be possible to pray for that long, because that really is what prayer is. It’s a conversation with the one you love. Jesus seemed disappointed that his disciples couldn’t watch and pray for him for an hour.
Many believers think that prayer is just asking God for things. That’s part of it. But it really isn’t the whole thing. Most of the time it should be about just being with the Lord.
(Photo to the left by Great News Canada.com – Creative Commons License By attribution and share alike)
It’s not just personal prayer that’s lacking, but so is our corporate prayer. Most churches I’m familiar with don’t have regular prayer meetings. If they do very few people show up. I’ve even seen prayer meetings in churches that really weren’t prayer meetings, they were bible studies.
If you have trouble cultivating a prayer life, try the following:
Pray as Jesus prayed. Pray through the Lord’s prayer. As you get to each section, divert and pray about the specifics of your requests there.
Our Father who art in Heaven, Hallowed be your name – (Father I exalt you. Thank You for your loving presence. You are Totally Holy and Righteous )
Your Kingdom Come, Your will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven. ( Lord I want you to conform my will to yours. Lord I help me with…. You know my desire is…….Lord help me to know and to submit to your will in….)
Give us this day our daily bread (Lord here’s a situation I have and I don’t have the resources…money… I need your help)
Forgive us our trespasses (sins) as we forgive those who trespassed against us (sinned or offended) (Father, I was offended when …. did that really hurt me. But I don’t want to keep unforgiveness in my heart. Lord, please forgive me for….. I sinned against you and against… Help me to truly repent or change my mind and let my actions reflect that)
Lead us not into temptation (Lord you know this is an area I’m struggling in. Give me strength here. Help keep me from temptation that would cause me to fall )
Deliver us from the Evil One (Lord make sure all of the device the enemy plans to use against me fail. Show me where his traps are and how to avoid them.)
For yours is the Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory, Forever and Ever Amen. (Lord all Glory is yours. All power is yours. The Kingdom is yours Lord.)
This is a good place to start your prayer life before the Lord. Notice the beginning doesn’t start with petition for our needs, it is worship, recognition of the wonder and greatness of God. That’s where most prayer should start. It helps us get into the correct mindset as we come before the Lord.
As you do this, take time to listen. What is the Lord saying. Some people hear a still small voice in their mind. For others, scriptures come to mind. For others it’s a tugging at the heart. The Word of God says that “my sheep listen to my voice…” If you don’t feel like you hear God on a regular basis, you need to spend time with the Lord, pray and spend time listening. Ask him to help you to hear his voice and know it. He’s faithful.
Now what are your ministry plans? Forget them. Don’t take your plans to God and ask him to bless them. Have the courage to put them on the table and let him tell you, yes that’s from him or no, that’s not from him. If he says no, then drop it and wait for him to tell you what he wants.
The reason most ministry is ineffective is that it was not birthed in prayer. Jesus said he only did what he saw his Father doing. There was a total connectedness with his Father. He didn’t do things or ministry on his own. He relied on his Father. Too many Christians in the West want to do their own thing. It’s time to step back and let Jesus take control. Let plans come out of those times of prayer where he speaks what he wants. Quit listening to what others are doing. Spend time with Jesus yourself and hear him. The results will be far more fruitful and it won’t be like wood, hay and stubble, burned up at the Judgement.
Believe God will answer. By the way, saying that his answer is “no” isn’t in the scripture. What is in the scripture is whatever you pray for, believe you have received it and you shall have it. Another scripture states “Whatever two or more of you ask for in my name, touching anything, I’ll do it.”
Does this give us anything we want? No. It means if we first come to him and let him work on our will and our hearts and line it up with his will, he will do it. Remember we must come into agreement with him. Once that is done though, pray with confidence that God will do what he says.
I’ve heard many prayers like “God, Joe is sick. We ask you to heal him if it’s your will. If not help him to accept it. In Jesus name, Amen.” If someone wants to pray for me like that, I tell them don’t bother. I don’t want it. It’s weak, it’s completely lacking in faith, and I suspect I wouldn’t get healed even if it is God’s will and if it is his will for some reason that I go through it, I don’t think that prayer would bring any comfort or edification. Because there is no faith behind it. I would rather someone tell me they don’t know how to pray then we seek God for what he wants, then we press into it with confidence. I really seek out and ask the Lord what his will is on an area, then I go for it with faith and confidence.
For my friends who are convinced that the Gifts of the Spirit have ceased – you might want to skip this last part. This won’t be edifying to you.
This last point will be contraversial, but that’s OK. Ask God for the gift of tongues. One of the types and uses of tongues, there are three, is prayer. It is the Holy Spirit praying through a person. It is correct prayer because it is the Lord praying through us his perfect will. Generally when one prays in tongues especially if they didn’t know how to pray about something or didn’t know God’s will in that situation. Then as you pray in tongues, God begins to reveal how he wants you to pray with understanding. You will also sense an increase in your faith.
As we spend time in prayer, we truly begin to know the Lord. Our intimacy with him deepens and we grow to love him more and our faith becomes stronger and Jesus becomes more real to us.
I believe that the Church in America and the West will continue to decline until we capture our Father’s heart through prayer and most importantly until he captures our heart as we pray.