During the first couple of years I walked with the Lord, my prayers went something like this:
- “God, help me get that job.”
- “Jesus, please heal my throat.”
- “Lord, send enough money to pay these bills.”
- “Father, take away my fear.”
It took me a while to realize that those spur-of-the-moment prayers were not accomplishing much. I thought I should do the best I could on my own, and then if I needed a lifeline from God, I could grab for it. The only problem was, I needed a lifeline every other minute.
I loved the Scripture that says,
Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7).
I took God at His word and was asking, seeking, and knocking on a pray-as-you-go basis. I also took to heart the Scripture that says,
You do not have because you do not ask. — James 4:2
Great! I can easily remedy that, I thought, and I proceeded to ask for everything. But I was still not happy, and I didn’t see the kind of answered prayer I desired.
One day as I was again reading that same verse, my eyes were opened to the next verse:
You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. — James 4:3
Could it be that the “God-give-me-this, do-that, wave-Your-magic-wand-here, get-me-out-of-this-mess” kind of praying was not what God desired for my prayer life? In utter frustration I said,
“Lord, teach me how I’m supposed to pray.”
He did exactly that!
I came to understand that prayer is not just asking for things — although that certainly is part of it. Far more important, prayer is talking with God. It’s getting close to and spending time with the One you love. It’s seeking Him first, touching Him, getting to know Him better, being with Him, and waiting in His presence. It’s acknowledging Him as the source of power upon whom you depend. It’s taking the time to say, Speak to my heart, Lord, and tell me what I need to hear.
Still later I came across the Scripture that says,
For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. — Matthew 6:8
This puzzled me, so I questioned Pastor Jack: “If God already knows what I need, why do I even need to ask for anything?”
In his usual clear manner, he explained, “Because God has given us a free will. He has set it up so that we always have a choice about everything we do, including whether or not we choose to communicate with Him. He will never intervene where man does not want Him.”
Of course! I thought. God wants us to desire to be with Him.
There is no love relationship if one person has to dictate how the other must think, feel, and act.
“God knows our thoughts,” Pastor Jack continued, “but He responds to our prayers. We have to come to a place of realizing that prayer is a privilege that is always ours, but the power in prayer is always His. Without God, we can’t do it. Without us, God won’t do it.”
That put a whole new perspective on the subject. Things wouldn’t happen in my life unless I prayed. And I was no longer just asking for things; I was partnering with God. I was aligning my spirit with His, and together we would see that His perfect will would be done.
HOW TO PRAY EFFECTIVELY
We all know that when friends don’t see each other and communicate frequently, they can become emotionally separated. Well, it’s the same with you and God. If you don’t keep in touch with Him, you begin to feel distant from Him even when you’re not. This is why you must pray daily. Also, when you spend time with someone you respect, the character of that person rubs off on you. When you are in the presence of God, His character is formed in you.
Many of us are especially vulnerable to the enemy’s attack on our self-worth. It doesn’t take much to discourage us, and feeling distant from God will do it. That’s why it’s important to start the day with some kind of prayer. We have to establish ourselves and our lives as being connected to Him.
We can’t receive God’s best for our lives, and we can’t push back the things that were never God’s will for us, except through prayer. We have to learn that we can’t leave our lives to chance. We have to pray over anything that concerns us, no matter how big — “With God nothing will be impossible” (Luke 1:37) — or how small — “The very hairs of your head are all numbered” (Matthew 10:30).
If you have any doubt about the importance of prayer or if you are still praying on an on-again/off-again basis, go through the fifteen reasons to pray below. I find that reading the Scripture passages that support them is very motivational too.
FIFTEEN REASONS TO PRAY
- To seek the face of the Lord and know Him better (Psalm 27:8)
- To get your eyes off your problems and onto the Lord (Psalm 121:1)
- To speak to God (1 Peter 3:12)
- To unburden your heart (Psalm 142:1-2)
- To make your requests known to God (Matthew 21:22)
- To hear God (Proverbs 8:34)
- To be free of suffering (James 5:13)
- To resist temptation (Matthew 26:41)
- To be rescued from distress (Psalm 107:19)
- To receive God’s reward (Matthew 6:6)
- To withstand evil (Ephesians 6:13)
- To have joy (John 16:24)
- To get close to God (Isaiah 64:7)
- To be healed emotionally (James 5:13)
- To have peace (Philippians 4:6-7)
Do whatever you have to do to secure a place and time to pray. When I was single and during the first few years of marriage, that was not a problem. However, after our first child was born it was much more difficult. When our second child arrived, the only way I could spend time with the Lord was to get up at 5:30 a.m. The only place I could go at that hour and not disturb anyone was a small walk-in closet off the master bath. What a contrast to my early years of being locked in the closet for punishment! Now I went there to commune with God. This went well for a while until I was discovered. First I was visited regularly by my eighteen-month-old daughter, who learned to climb out of her crib and come looking for me. Soon she was followed by her six-year-old brother.
One morning, when both of them, plus my husband, two dogs, and several hamsters, ended up in the closet, I knew it was time to either get up earlier or find a new location. Sometimes we have to revise our plans, but securing a time and place to be alone with God is worth any effort.
Without reducing prayer to a formula, I found that it is good to include certain key points in each prayer time:
- Tell the Lord how much you love Him.
- Thank Him for all He has done for you.
- State how dependent you are upon Him.
- Tell Him everything that’s in your heart.
- Confess anything that needs to be confessed.
- Give Him all your requests.
- Wait for Him to speak to your heart.
- Praise Him for working powerfully in your life.
Don’t ever feel inhibited because you think you can’t pray. If you can talk, you can pray. And don’t be concerned about prayer talk, church talk, or Christianese talk. The Bible tells us the only qualifications we need:
He who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. — Hebrews 11:6
We just have to believe that He is a good God.
The more you pray, the more you will find to pray about, and the more you’ll be led to pray for others: family members (as in my books The Power of a Praying Wife and The Power of a Praying Parent), friends, enemies, and all those in authority in any area of your life (pastor, teacher, boss, governor, president). You’ll pray for them not only because they influence your emotional health and because part of the peace you experience will result directly from that type of praying, but because Jesus asked you to do it.
Excerpted with permission from Praying God’s Will for Your Life by Stormie Omartian, copyright Stormie Omartian.
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Prayer is powerful! There are so many reasons to pray beyond the top 15, right? What are you praying about? Who are you praying for? We want to know! Come share with us! ~ Devotionals Daily