Back to the Basics: Prayer

So do you have your coffee, tea, or cocoa? Ready to chat? We as women love to talk. We are relational. We thrive on deep communication, being known. With that in mind, let’s jump right in!

Prayer is one of the most important things in the Christian walk. Prayer coupled with the Word of God forms our conversation with the Lord. Communication. He speaks to us through His word; we speak back to Him through prayer. Then we listen…. I personally like to listen with a pen and journal. That way when He impresses something on my heart I can write it down, contemplate it, pray more about it, and obey when He calls for action.

Would you agree that prayer is very important in the Christian walk? Most Christians will agree with that, I believe. Then why do we treat it so casually? Why do we not pray frequently, boldly, and confidently to our Father who loves us? And if we pray intentionally and frequently, daily even, in our quiet time at least, why do our prayers often end up sounding like a child’s Christmas wish list to Santa? Why do few Christians practice walking in the “praying without ceasing” mindset we are instructed to in 1 Thessalonians 5:17? Why do we not have the “peace that passes understanding” that we are promised in Philippians 4:7 after we pray? Why do we pray and then find ourselves surprised when something miraculous happens in answer to our prayers? Please hear my heart here, I’m not asking in an accusing way! I’m asking myself why I do these things too?

A photo by Ben White. unsplash.com/photos/BtNxJsFOjtQI believe prayer is one of the simplest yet most profound and powerful parts of our life with Christ. It is beyond our understanding in many ways. Prayer is so simple that a little child can do it, yet so powerful and profound that it intimidates lawyers and doctors. It can be sporadic or a disciplined pursuit. Prayer is earthly words spoken that are then acted on by all the power of our Omnipotent Creator. It is at the same time practical and mystical, in that it is a practical action we are instructed to do by scripture, yet it has spiritual ramifications that are beyond our comprehension. Prayer sets in action the spiritual forces in the heavenly realms and is eternal. When we pray a prayer it is never lost floating around in space. Revelation 5:8 tells us “And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people” and they are there in heaven eternally before the Father.

Whole books have been written on prayer. So of course I cannot touch on every facet of prayer in one short blog post. I will mention a few resources I love at the end of this post. So for the rest of the article I will focus on carrying through with prayer in your daily life. I’ll offer some ideas for being intentional and organized in prayer.

Tips for a flourishing prayer life:

1. Make prayer and Bible study a priority.

If prayer coupled with Bible study is a conversation with God, then we need to make it a daily activity, and many times a day. We women would not be pleased if our husband, boyfriend, or best friend, only had a conversation with us on Sunday! So why would we think a relationship with God can be sustained without intimate conversation on a regular basis? God speaks through His Word, and we respond to Him through prayer – that’s the conversation. I love the Navigator’s “Wheel” illustration. It refers to prayer and the Word as the vertical spokes of a wheel – us reaching up to God and Him speaking to us. (I’ll include it at the bottom of this article, and we’ll discuss the 2 horizontal spokes of the wheel in other articles.)  And without these spokes our wheel of life becomes a flat tire to drive on.

2.Start the day off with prayer.

Make it a habit to go to God first thing in the morning. Start your day talking with Him. Set the clock for 15 minutes earlier than you would normally rise, then gradually increase the time you spend. It’s worth every moment.

3.Pray scripture.

One of the most powerful ways to pray is to speak God’s words back to Him. There is power in the Word of God! As Isaiah 55:10-11 says, “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” Just personalize verses that speak to the issue you are praying over.

Example. Praying scripture using Hebrews 12:1-3 might go something like this:“Lord, As I’m facing tough times ahead and since I’m surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, help me throw off everything that hinders me and the sin that so easily entangles me. And let me run with perseverance the race marked out for me, fixing my eyes on you, Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of my faith. For the joy set before you, you endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Father God, remind me to consider Jesus who endured such opposition from sinners, so that I won’t grow weary and lose heart. In my struggle against sin, I have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood as Jesus did! Amen.”

4.Have a plan for your personal prayer time. 

Don’t just give your wish list to God every time you meet (supplication). Spend time in praise, adoration, thanksgiving as well as confessing sins, interceding for others, and listening to Him. I’ve seen the acrostic ACTS – Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication. It reminds us to do more than just ask, ask, ask. In reality, my prayers are very much like a human conversation with a rich flow of comments & questions, speaking & listening, ideas, and appreciation all mixed together.

5.Write out your prayers.

One thing I’ve found very helpful is to write out my prayers. It gives me a glimpse of my motives and what I’m really saying. I use my simple lined journal and write stream-of-consciousness style as my thoughts flow. Many times I will be drawn to my knees when I see my prideful, selfish attitude on paper. And equally as many times I find the resolution to my situation spilling out of my pen as I write. I often write out verses in my prayers and even find myself moved by God in a new direction. It’s shockingly revealing. My prayer journal has taken many forms over the years. My recommendation to you is to Start Journaling! Start with whatever you have. If you aren’t satisfied, research so you can refine or change your format. Check out this article on ideas for a prayer journal.

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Here are a few other important things to consider about your prayer life:

A. Pray without ceasing. (1 Thessalonians 5:17) All day, every day keep the conversation open with Him as you go about you daily life. You’ll love it and be surprised at the things the Lord has you pray and do as you go about your job or daily errands.

B. Pray for others on the spot when they ask for prayer.This is a form of interceding. Dictionary.com defines interceding as – to act or interpose in behalf of someone in difficulty or trouble, as by pleading or petition. But basically interceding is a big word that means praying for others (or yourself). You plead their case to God and ask Him to act on their behalf. And here I am challenging you to do it out loud, in the moment, in their presence! I can see your reaction in my mind. You’re sitting there like, “Oh that makes me really uncomfortable. Won’t it be awkward?” It’s worth it!

So why pray for someone right there on the spot in the church hallway, in the aisle at Wal-Mart, or sitting in the bleachers at the ball park? Three great reasons to pray aloud, on the spot with a person:

1) You won’t forget to pray for them. You are doing it right then. And guess what. When you’ve done it once you’re more apt to remember to pray for them again later when they’re not around.
2) There is power in the spoken word. Having someone pray aloud for you touches the heart. It brings peace, comfort and hope. It lets the person being prayed for know that you actually prayed (and didn’t just say that) and what scriptural promises you prayed over them. 

3) Your personal prayer life will ramp up when you are unafraid to risk or to be awkward or to be vulnerable enough to pray with them in public.

C. Be a part of a prayer group with like-minded people. I’m part of a prayer group for moms of teens and young adults. We come together knowing we are loved and never judged, and that we’re prayed for in our darkest moments. We text each other during the week when a crisis or a praise comes! We cry or celebrate together. I call us Stretcher-Bearers because we are like the lame man whose friends had to carry Him to Jesus; sometimes we are broken moms, and the hurts are so difficult we can’t even get the words out to pray for ourselves and our situation, but our stretcher-bearers take us to the throne. We have prayed each other through major ups and downs.

So find you a group. Start a group. I guarantee someone else is wishing someone would. Your prayer group could focus on praying for: spouses, children, schools, grandchildren, missionaries on the field, the team, the band, the workplace, the pastor… whatever your need is.

D. Remember, the Holy Spirit prays for us when we don’t know what to pray. Romans 8:26 tells us, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” So don’t let not knowing what to say stop you from praying!

E. An Emergency prayer: “Help me, Jesus!” God knows. You don’t have to explain. When those moments come just shout out His name.

Remember James 5:16 (NIV) “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”

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The Navigator’s Wheel Illustration

wheel

Resources on prayer:

“Be Devoted to Prayer” a wonderful article by John Piper

Lord, Teach Me to Pray – Kay Arthur  Kay’s Arthur’s website

Prayer Portions – Sylvia Gunter

Sylvia’s website has devotionals, a blog, and a place to order the book.

The Power of a Praying Parent – Stormie O’Martian  She also has resources on praying for your spouse, grandchildren, adult child, etc. Stormie’s website.

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