So...how's your prayer life?
“Prayer is the vital breath of the Christian; not the thing that makes him alive, but the evidence that he is alive.” – Oswald Chambers
Prayer is an incredible gift of God. Just think about it – the God of the Universe, the One who holds the world in His hands, is inviting you into a personal, one-on-one relationship with Him. Prayer is our communication with the Sovereign God of All. Prayer is the vital breath of a believer. It is speaking, but it is also listening. It is two-way conversation. The way you grow in any relationship is to spend time with someone else. So, how are you growing in your prayer life?
As Jesus teaches His disciples to pray in Luke 11, he reveals that prayer is rooted in the goodness and grace of a Sovereign God who invites us to call Him “Father.” He is the perfect
Father. Think about everything a perfect dad should be, and apply that image (and so much more!) to God. When we begin to understand Him in this light as Father, the realization of the relationship draws us to pray. We recognize our provision, our protection, our learning all come from God, our Father. And, as our Father, He loves us and wants the best for us. Prayer invites the God of the Universe into our mess and brokenness. He opens our eyes to His transformation, grace and love.
Prayer changes things, but even more so, prayer changes us. God’s Word teaches that nothing is impossible with God. And, through prayer, we see miracles unfold. We see lives changed, healing happen, and prayers answered. But, in the process, prayer changes us. We move from trying to carry all our burdens (along with the strain and stress) to laying our fears and anxieties at His feet. Prayer is essential to our faith and spiritual growth as a disciple of Christ.
So, how do we grow in our prayer life? For so many, prayer is a struggle. If you are currently struggling in your prayer life (and we all do at different points in our spiritual journey), here are some helpful ways to help you grow:
Find a “certain place.” In Luke 11:1, when the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, they observed Jesus praying in a “certain place.” For Jesus this may have been a rock or a tree overlooking the Sea of Galilee. But, what about you? Find a “certain place.” This could be kneeling by your bed, in your office or a place in nature. Find a place and make it the place you meet with God. After a while, even if you are traveling and you cannot be there physically, it will become a place where you can go in your mind. Find a place.
Set a specific time. Figure out your optimal time to meet with God and schedule a daily appointment with Him. If you are not a morning person, then don’t beat yourself up because you are not good at praying in the morning. If you fall asleep when you pray, don’t make your prayer time at night. When are you most alert? Schedule a time to meet with God each day, and show up. When we schedule meetings, doctor’s appointments, dinner dates – we always show up. Therefore, schedule time to pray. It is of the utmost importance.
Follow this pattern: A.C.T.S. ACTS is a simple acronym for: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication. As you look at the pattern Jesus teaches in Luke 11, you can see this unfold. Spend the first few minutes in your prayer life simply adoring God. Think about how beautiful, amazing and wonderful He is – and shower Him with praise. Then confess any sin in your life. Is anything blocking your prayer life today? Next, be thankful. List off all the ways God has blessed you and the things He has lavished on you. Finally, supplication – ask. Ask for what you need. Your Father knows, and He longs to take care of you.
Start a prayer journal. At different stages of my own personal walk, I have used a prayer journal. I have found this to be an incredible tool to keep me focused in my prayers. Whether in a notebook, an iPad, a phone, etc., writing your prayers to God creates focus and attention. In addition, it is an awesome resource to look back to see how God answers prayers. So often, we forget. We are already on to the next crisis, and we never stop to say “Thank You!” to the God who hears our cries and answers our requests.
Consider Fasting. In Mark 9 a man brings his son, who has an evil spirit, to Jesus’ disciples but they cannot heal him. The man then takes the boy to Jesus who does heal him. When the disciples ask why they could not heal him, Jesus responds, “This kind can come out only by prayer (in most texts) and fasting.” (Mark 9:29). Sometimes there are strongholds in our lives that can only come down by concentrated prayer and fasting. Fasting is denying ourselves something, such as food or media, in order to pray and concentrate on God. It may be from sun-up until sun-down or 3, 7, or even 40-days. But, when the urge for food (or whatever you fast from) arises, we are moved to pray. If you have never fasted, try it. You will be blown away by the spiritual intimacy which comes from it.
These all will help you grow a stronger prayer life, but always remember the hope is to learn to pray all the time. “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). God’s will is for you to have a deep, growing, passionate relationship with Him. Prayer is your connection with the God who loves you. The goal of prayer is always God, Himself.
So...how’s your prayer life?
Jeff Simmons is the Founder and Lead Pastor of Rolling Hills Community Church in Franklin, TN. He also serves as the President of Justice & Mercy International, a nonprofit that exists to make justice personal for the poor, the orphaned and the forgotten of the world. His faith in God and role as husband and father motivates him to be the leader he is and to do the work he has been called to.
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