So often I hear the question, “How do I pray?” This question is sometimes the clue that your prayer life is lacking or, sometimes, non existent. Is that true for you?
I have said many times in the past that it doesn’t matter when you pray, just that you do. I have changed my mind about that. It DOES matter when you pray and scripture supports that thought. And it DOES matter that you do pray.
Early in the book of Acts, after his resurrection and just before Jesus ascended to heaven, He gave instructions to his followers in Acts 1:4-5 (NIV), “4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
Wait. Once again Father tells us to wait. But waiting does not mean to do nothing. Acts 1:14 (NIV) tells us what the disciples did while they were waiting, “They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.” The key here is “constantly.” The disciples didn’t just quickly spend two minutes in the morning while putting on their shoes to run out to work. They didn’t quickly say, “I’m sorry, I forgot” as their prayer after their lunch hour. They made it their priority and intentionally, they prayed constantly.
It can feel like Father doesn’t care, or He has better things to do, or He is far away. God doesn’t waste even a moment of time and He never delays nor detours. If you truly believe in the God described in Romans 8:28 (NIV), “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”, then how do you get to the feelings that God has left you? Is it possible that it is you that stepped out of God’s presence? (If that were possible!)
Prayer. Read the Psalms and listen to real people having real conversations with God during their celebrations, during their rough times, while they are lamenting the death of children and spouses, and when they know that God has dropped in on their lives. Prayer does that.
The disciples were a good model for prayer and often we quickly sweep past the fact they were constantly in prayer. 2 Thessalonians 1:11a, “ . . . we constantly pray for you . . .” and 2 Timothy 1:3, “ . . . as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers.”
Looking for a “one minute devotional” or concentrating on the breath prayers are good things. The model, however, is to pray constantly. The instruction comes in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
So those that wait, find God’s glory. Isaiah 40:31 reminds you, “They who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”
If waiting will renew your strength, it is obvious that waiting and doing nothing are not the same things. Pray. Study. Worship.
The Intercessory Prayer Network published a daily prayer guide that I have modified to make it a little more personal. When there are times you just don’t know what to pray and have trouble starting, here is a push for you.
Sunday: As you prepare your heart for worship with the community of faith, give thanks for the purposes of God. Intentionally thank Him for the times He has dropped in and shown you His glory. Pray for revelation of how these purposes are being realized in your present circumstances. Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Monday: As you begin your day of work or whatever your daily schedule is, confess your impatience and all that is in you that would run off and ahead of God. Pray for the faith to trust completely in the timing of God. 2 Peter 3:9, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
Tuesday: This is the day you begin to realize you have already not kept your list of “to-do” up and you are already behind. Today, pray that you abide in Christ so your heart is perfectly aligned with His heart, and you will bear fruit pleasing to Him in this season of your life. John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
Wednesday: You have made it to what the secular world declares is the middle of the week. This can be a day you realize your limitations and begin to remold your intentions and goals for the week. You begin to prioritize and drop things and events from your list of what you must accomplish. This is the day to confess your limitations, your lack of understanding, and your need for Father’s Holy wisdom. Cry out for the wisdom of God to be poured out upon you and your movements through your day. Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
Thursday: When you pray constantly you begin to hear and feel the unforced rhythm of grace Father wants for you. Use this day to pray for and hear God tell you what your next faithful step might be to take within His glory. Matthew 11:28-30, 28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Friday: When the secular world is shouting TGIF!! because freedom for the weekend is coming soon, the Holy Spirit is urging you to pray that Father will bring forth fruit in your life and in your movement throughout your days. One of those fruit-filled characteristics is to learn the patience of God. Galatians 5:22-23, “22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
Saturday: This day can be crazy. The responsibilities you were not able to complete through the week must ALL be accomplished today. TODAY!!! Prayer, today, should be for God to reign in your heart, your mind, and your actions so you can live in complete harmony with each other while giving total praise and glory to Father. Romans 15:5-6, “5 May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, 6 so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”