Learning to Pray
Prayer is something so easy to do, yet I fail over and over and over again to sustain prayer in my life. I know I am not alone in this, but lately God has been gifting me with verses that I need to risk more in my prayers, I need to praise the answers before they come and write my history before it happens (from Mark Batterson). The way to do this is through prayer.
God is challenging me now to learn how to pray, to seek time with him in prayer, the pray boldly for the future, and to have complete faith that he will answer in his own time and way. Honestly, I know he seeking me to seek him in prayer and he knows that I need a deeper relationship with him, and I firmly believe he wants to show me how great he is when he answers my prayers. I know I forget sometimes that he already knows what my prayers will be, but I still need to ask. I still need to pray.
Jesus tells us how to pray in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapter 6 verses 5-13. Jesus begins by telling us not to pray where others can hear so you are seen but to find a quiet place to be with the Father. So I should pray alone and unseen. Jesus also says not to babble with so many words, definitely something I need to work on, but to keep it simple because God already knows what we need. We just need to trust in him and ask. Finally, Jesus provides us with an example of how to pray which is the Lord’s prayer:
“Our Father in Heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil. (the evil one)
A simple outline, praise God, Ask that his will be done just as 1 John 5:14-15 states, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we asked of him.” Ask for our needs and forgiveness of our sins and a reminder to forgive others who have sinned against us. Why do we make praying so hard?
God and Me
God is seeking a relationship with me through prayer, but the only way this can really happen is that I have to have Faith. Faith in my prayers, Faith he will answers prayers, and Faith to be bold in my prayers and prayer time. If I have faith the rest of the relationship will be easy. The hard part is I get in the way instead of getting out of the way for God to work. Hebrews 11:1 defines Faith, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Hope for = Pray for. God even helps me see that sometimes my little faith can do big things like the comparison to the mustard seed in Matthew 17:20, “He replied, ‘Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.'” When I read verses like this, I feel the urge to get down on my knees before the Lord and lift it all up in prayer, cast my burdens, and walk out in his light. I want to see the mountains move. I need to seek relationship and prayer with the Lord to build my faith and trust in the path the Lord wants for me. To close this section on God and I and our prayer relationship, I find myself reading Proverbs 3: 5-6 which seems fitting, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Stop leaning on myself and start leaning only on the Lord who has the answers if I will just seek him and ask because He tells me in Numbers 11:23 when he asking Moses whether he believes, “The Lord answered Moses, ‘Is the Lord’s arm too short? Now you will see whether or not what I say will come true for you.'” He delivered the quail in great numbers to the Israelites, so he will deliver answers to my prayers if I pray and ask.
What and Why should I be praying. First, the bible is clear that the flesh makes us weak and leads us astray. Jesus even rebuked his own disciples about praying so they would not fall to temptation through the flesh. Matthew 26: 40-41 reads, “The he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. ‘Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour:’ he asked Peter. ‘Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.'” I read these lines and see myself and the disciples as human. I want to pray and my spirit is so willing, but how easily flesh can win and I don’t fall on our knees and pray the prayers I know I should. How many times have I failed to ask the Lord when I know he was calling me to pray and pray harder. When will I circle the prayer and believe that I must ask to receive. Matthew 7:7 plainly tell me this, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” But my human nature just fails. Mark 11:24 goes even deeper, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Oh “…you of little faith” Matthew 6:30. That is me too many times. God has been so good, yet I have little faith. I need to start realizing how important my relationship and faith is with the Lord. Instead of holding on, I need to be letting go and giving it to to Him who wants to show me his power if only I would ask. 1 Peter 5:7 provides this promise, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” The good and the bad he wants it all.
Maybe the hardest thing I find in scripture about what I should pray for is found in Luke 6:28, “bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” This seems so hard, but why we love all people and life effects everyone differently as they walk through it each day. I have the Lord and no worries or cares. I read recently that praying for those who persecute and mistreat you will bring God out to do even great work. I am going to pray harder for those victories. Even though, I know as Daniel did you have to sometimes pray for something a long time and wait for answers to our prayers. I can do it like Daniel in Daniel 10:12, “The he continued, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come to response in them.” Pray for the hard stuff, and for the bold stuff, most importantly pray.
My Prayer Spot
Above I mentioned Matthew 6, but now I want to specifically look at verse 6, “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door, and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Jesus teaches that wIshould find a quiet place to pray where prying eyes are not watching. Prayer is personal and intimate and not for the world to share in. I don’t believe it has to be in my room, but the quiet place where I make room for God in my life and give him my burdens and joys and share with him my deepest secrets. Jesus is our example, as Luke 5:16 reads, “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Am I afraid to be alone with God? Am I afraid of what he will see? I know he already sees but sometimes it is hard to lay it before the perfect sacrifice when I am covered in so many blemishes, yet I know he loves me.
I like the quietness of morning with a cup of coffee and the darkness of the evening to dig myself into the Word and prayer with my Father. Even better is the sound of water by the sea, on the sea, surrounded by the sea and I can find myself in his arms and sheltered in prayer. This is where I find my peace from the world to pray.
When should I pray? That question plagues me because of the scripture in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” The rejoicing is the easy part of this verse the pray without ceasing is the difficult part. This is a human failure. Our minds wonder and our focus wanes, but God calls us to stay the course and pray in all circumstances. This leads me to Philippians 4:6, which sounds a similar to the verse above as we are called to pray and give it all to the Lord. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
I believe my human nature drives me to prayer when things look down, and scripture calls me to not be anxious or worry. Scripture is very clear about this in Matthew 6:25-27: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” I am called to relinquish it all to God to approach his throne in my time of need, “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16.
Oh to be bold with prayer like Elijah who called down the power of the Lord to bring fire and burn up his sacrifice to turn the heart’s of God’s people back to the Lord. Elijah stood in that miracle and prayed again for rain. He was bold and he believed. May I be bold like Elijah in prayer and stand on miracles to pray even bolder prayers. Elijah is still like us that even after seeing God’s answers to his prayer he fled from Jezebel, but God as usual has a plan. Read about Elijah in 1 Kings 17-19. Dig Deep! While reading these chapters, remember James 5:17-18, “Elijah was a human being even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced crops.” It was a great reminder to revisit Elijah and his bold prayers that I must stand in my faith when I pray and not my human flesh. Because “….with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26.
My prayer is seek his wisdom in my life and live in that wisdom described in James 3:17-18, “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.” I seek wisdom and peace which I can only find when I pray with bold faith. So I “humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” James 4:10. Amen.