I have started and trashed so many posts about the topic of prayer. Prayer can feel like it takes 100 steps to get it right but it really is the ultimate paradox. It is that simple, and it is that complex. I have learned a thing or two about prayer that I want to share in the hopes that if you are stuck in your prayer life, this might shake it all loose for you. Remember, it isn’t anywhere near 100 steps.
Prayer is more about “Our Father” than it is about us
I’ve read two books on prayer that made any sense to me, one from Andrew Murray called “Lord, Teach us to Pray” and “The Prayer of Jesus” by Hank Hanegraaff. Both books are great reads, though Hank is smarter than the rest of us so his reading can be difficult from time to time (please Hank, just SAY IT! Don’t use big words all the time to get it done!). Andrew Murray wrote his book in 1896 so it is free on Kindle if you are interested. Anyway, the prayer known as the “Our Father” can be found in Mathew 6:9. Most of what I pray is through this complete prayer that both Andrew and Hank write so much about.
Lots of reasons we don’t pray
There is no dearth of reasons why we don’t pray (or pray well), but there are a couple that are worth mentioning. Satan, for one, really doesn’t want us talking to God; perhaps that is obvious to some, but conspicuously odd to others. Either way it is something to consider, and something that is true. Another reason that many don’t pray is that we don’t know how to pray; me being a great example. It took me forever to learn how to pray. That is my fault, but in my defense, there weren’t a bunch of people clamoring to offer their advice. My goal here is to try to help someone who may be in the same position I was not too long ago. Praying takes time; from minutes, to hours, to days, prayer isn’t a temporal exercise per say, but in all instances it is time well spent. The down side to taking time is that we often aren’t disciplined enough to do it; think about anything else you ought to be doing right now besides reading this, but aren’t. The last reason we don’t like to pray is that we end up having to discuss things with God that we don’t want to, like the sin in our lives that we keep ignoring. God will confront us with these “gifts” but in the end it feels good to get that out on the table during prayer. It’s the conviction that feels so good!
Time to pray
I touched on this above but have you ever heard or read about a person that spends hours in prayer? It blew me away that anyone could spend that much time praying, but it happens. We are supposed to pray without ceasing which means we are encouraged to have little conversations with God all day. There does however need to be time spent alone in prayer. That is the focus of this post, how that time can look and feel. After reading this I hope you will be able to see how hours can be filled with prayer.
Hit the deck
I don’t think this is mentioned enough when it comes to prayer. Even alone the first several times I felt really odd looking over my shoulder while getting on my knees, but I did it. If you are not accustomed to taking a knee in prayer, you’re going to have to do it at least once on judgment day when we all proclaim that Jesus is Lord and the ruler of all things. Even Satan is aware that he will take a knee. My advice is get over yourself, hit the deck, and see what it does to your prayer.
Shh, I’m almost praying
There are exceptions to every rule, but a general practice for me is not to rush into prayer. Take a minute to quiet your head; consider it warming up before a workout. The quiet before prayer can accomplish several things but I view it more as opening my ears; it’s hard to listen to God, or anyone, if you are busy talking.
Extolling Gods greatness
I always let God know how I feel about him. The ability to let God know how you feel is important. I liken it to telling my wife how much I love her. This is, in my wife’s case, usually followed by me confessing to purchasing a piece of camera equipment I probably shouldn’t have. This is oddly enough just what happens in my prayers to the Lord, I ask for forgiveness.
Make God’s will your will on Earth and in Heaven
According to Andrew Murray, intercession in prayer is a sign of a mature Christian. If you are doing God’s will, you are praying for others. It goes something like this, a person who is newly saved may spend a ton of time praying about themselves, which isn’t a bad thing. A more mature Christian prays for others, and for themselves, which is a great thing. Intercession in prayer can cover the gammat from world leaders, friends, to the TV weatherman. It doesn’t matter who you pray for. Sometimes God will even nudge you to pray for someone, so I’ve heard anyway. Think about it, if we are praying to have God’s will be done on Earth as in Heaven, we should be praying for the people around us. Are you having a disagreement with a neighbor or a co-worker? Pray for them! Pray for the people who you don’t really get along with. It is amazing what can happen when you honestly pray for those you don’t see eye to eye with. I would also say this, don’t just rip down a list of people thinking they have been prayed for. The rip list, if you will, is more for those quick prayers throughout the day.
The best thing ever would be for God to just call it game, set, match. As Christians wouldn’t we all just rather be with God? I would. I also know that there is more work to do here; people to be saved, and that sort of thing. That said, I know what I want, which doesn’t always coincide with what God wants. I need each day to pass the buck to God to let him take care of that. His will on Earth needs to done as it is in Heaven, which is a completed project as I understand it. Do the same on Earth. You can add bonus points to your prayer if God asks you to do something that is his will.
I don’t need the entire loaf; just a slice will do. Thanks anyway.
Asking God to provide just what you need is often overlooked. When you ask for just what you need, don’t limit that to just food or clothes, but add your job too! There are already too few hours in the day it seems; getting into the habit of asking for just what you need for the day can be a real time saver. Don’t overlook it! Take all the “stuff” you do each day and ask God to give just enough of it. That’s a full day of everything you need. It is good to know that God won’t give you things you can’t handle.
We all sin, each day, every day
I want to get the sin off my back before I get into the rest of my prayer. Asking God to forgive your sins can be uncomfortable! If you have the holy spirit in you, sin is even more difficult to talk about because we already know that we shouldn’t be doing the things that we did. I think this is the genesis of all the Catholic guilt jokes that circulate. On a side note, why does it feel like Catholics have the market cornered on guilt jokes? Anyway, the better we know about what not to do, the more it hurts when we do it. When the mighty one wags His big index finger, its time to listen! Also, while you are at it, let God know you are sorry and ask Him to bring up any sin, or anything else for that matter, that you are not aware of. It’s one thing to repent from something you know darn good and well is wrong, it’s another when you weren’t aware you did anything in the first place.
Forgiving others who sin against you is another matter. It could take years to actually forgive someone, but give it a shot, each day until you’ve been able to make peace with it and them. Odds are that you won’t be able to make piece alone, but God can help you. Other sins, easy sins, are easy to forgive; the guy that cut you off on the freeway is a good example. The point is that if you don’t forgive people who sin against you, it will be tough to feel like you have been forgiven. I think those that do forgive others are healthier and happier for it.
No Room At the Inn
Temptation and delivering us from evil. As I mentioned at the front of this post, Satan really doesn’t want us talking with God. Don’t believe in Satan? That is a real bummer because he’s real, and the less you believe he exists, the easier it is for him to work his way into your life. While in prayer, think about all that God does in your life, and thank him. Ask God to make sure Satan doesn’t have a place in your life and that temptation won’t enter your daily routine.
Read your Bible. Every day. It doesn’t have to be much, but open the book and read some. Then pray about what you read. It’s actually kind of a misnomer classifying this as bonus material, but I needed something to keep you reading; it’s actually mandatory. Keep the book open and God will do great things for you. Pray every day, and you’ll keep the door open for many, many blessings from God.
In Christ’s name
We are supposed to close our prayer with the phrase “In Christ’s name I pray. Amen” I know that the word ‘amen’ means “it is so” or “so be it”. Why pray in Christ’s name? Jesus is the only way to God. If we pray in Christ’s name, we are asking the amen to come via Jesus. Plus it just sounds right to end a prayer that way.
This happens to be my example of how I pray. If you read either of the two books I suggested, or even mix in your Bible, you’ll have a great way to pray. If you dissect each piece of Mathew 6:9, it is easy to see that a person really truly could spend hours in prayer. Stay focused and keep at it. Prayer works. That statement comes from a guy who once thought God didn’t care what I had to say. Don’t bother looking at the clock. Just get down and pray.
- The Meaning of Prayer (homophilosophicus.wordpress.com)
- 120726 – George Hach’s Inner Disciplines Journal – Thursday (georgehachmyblog.wordpress.com)
- For What Should We Pray? (frted.wordpress.com)
- Prayer Voice (cathysvoicenow.wordpress.com)
- The Way to Pray (homophilosophicus.wordpress.com)
- Lord Teach Us to Pray: The Prayer Window by Kimberlee Conway Ireton (godspace.wordpress.com)
- Prayer: It’s not what it used to be (joycannis.wordpress.com)