I Thessalonians 5:17 (NLT) Never stop praying.
Do you pray? Do you set aside time each day to talk to God? With full schedules and busy routines, it is sometimes hard to carve out a moment or two for the still small voice inviting you to come closer. It is the squeaky wheels that get the grease and the enemy is great at throwing monkey wrenches into our plans producing problems and inconveniences that steal precious moments devoted to private conversations with the Living God. As a mom, there have been days a private trip to the water closet was impossible let alone my prayer closet. Even the dog follows me to the bathroom most of the time.
One of the sweetest exchanges I have ever found in the Word of God is in Psalm 27. “My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.” The Lord is whispering to you today to come and talk with Him. He desires intimate and personal conversation with you – His Beloved. It is important that in each day there is time for such things. It is empowerment for our soul and equipment for the battle faced each day against temptation and through our trials. Without prayer, it is hard to distinguish the Truth from the lies handed off as half-truth and total bewilderments by the enemy each day. If he can only convince you that God does not love us or is disinterested in us then he can distract us from knowing the Will of God and having His Way in our life.
Is it truly possible to “never stop praying”? How will I ever know if I do not start praying at some point in each day? Too often it is the rescue remedy in our life rather than the daily sustenance that maintains our heart and soul. Jesus is the Bread of Life. We consume Him through communion with the Lord. To commune is to engage in intimate communication. It is a quiet conversation. Too often prayer is approached like the drive-thru at McDonalds. We bark our order to God and expect Him to get it right in thirty seconds or less. When He doesn’t respond according to our desires and expectations – we deem prayer unnecessary and not useful spending the rest of our time complaining and grumbling against the Lord in discontentment.
Matthew 6:9-13 (NLT) Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us today the food we need, and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.
“Pray like this…” It doesn’t get any plainer than this now does it. Who is honest enough to admit that this is not how we pray at all most of the time. Jesus talked to us about prayer. He begins by telling us not to pray as hypocrites. Saying things that are not heartfelt and sincere because there of disbelief. To say one thing and do another is hypocritical for those who might be wondering. Prayer is not meant as a public display or even a corporate conversation overheard by God. (Matthew 6:5-6) Prayer is not beating down God’s Door with a bunch of words and relentless begging until He moves on your behalf. Prayer is the key that opens Heavens door because it slides in and makes a connection with His Will not our own. (Matthew 6:7-8)
Prayer is agreement with God’s Will and acceptance of God’s Way. It is an act of humility not an opportunity to demand anything in advance. We pray according to His Word and by faith (confidence) in it. Jesus is the Way, Truth and Life. No one makes it to the Father except through Him and our prayers are not different. They must be according to His Way, His Truth and New Life not old things that are subject to passing away. Prayer is based on the premise that God knows our needs and has already provided all that we need. It is the acceptance of every spiritual blessing already predestined for our life. It acknowledges God’s Plan fully agreeing with His Terms.
What prayer does not do? Prayer does not change God’s Plan for our life. It does not precipitate the movement of time preset by God’s Timing. Prayer empowers us to overcome the temptation to quit or give up before reaching fulfillment. (Matthew 26:41) Prayer seldom produces immediate external results. It can produce immediate peace and comfort to those who are waiting. It begins an inward change. (Ps. 34:4-7) Prayer is the opportunity to be freed from our fear by casting our burden and releasing our anxiety to Jesus and allowing Him to guard our heart. Prayer is encouragement while we wait on God. (Psalm138:3) It is knowing that He perfects all that concerns me. I can trust Him.
2 Chronicles 7:14-15 (NLT) Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. My eyes will be open and my ears attentive to every prayer made in this place.
Humility is essential in our prayer life. We must continually repent of our sins and forgive others to make them work effectively in our life. I cannot harbor hidden sin and expect the Lord to move into that area of my life. Light and darkness cannot fill the same space. Don’t believe me. Turn on the light in a dark room. What happens? Darkness has to flee. When we decide to restrict certain areas of our life to God’s Will and His Word, they become places of inactivity. Why? God gave each of us the opportunity to choose who to serve. Our faith is our own and may be given to whoever we choose. When I approach prayer with a flurry of requests, it is from a position of false entitlement. I am given a future and hope according to God’s Plan not my own. I must humble myself and accept God’s Plan for me which has nothing to do with my wants, needs and desires in the present moment. All things are working together for my good according to His Plan.
With this in mind, forgiveness of my sins is imperative to having God’s Will. (Matt. 6:14-15) I must repent. This is the first act of humility. I must forgive others. (Mark 11:24-25) I cannot hold grudges in my life because that is a form of misplaced expectation. I must forgive as I have been forgiven. No grudges are allowed. I must give myself back to that person in love just as Christ gave Himself for me. Unforgiveness implies that I expected more from a person than the Living God rather than understanding it is by grace I am saved not of myself. His Grace is enough for me. A lack of forgiveness in my life is evidence that I have decided His Grace is not enough and I am owed something that I have not received. Humility is required to engage in an active and rewarding prayer life. Giving all areas of our life and expectations in our life to Jesus Christ alone.
Romans 8:26-27 (NLT) And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.
The Holy Spirit is our prayer partner for life. He takes the Word hidden in our heart weaving it as Truth in our mind with understanding and facilitating fruit in our spirit that feeds our soul. To pray without His Assistance is foolish because the Spirit knows God’s Own Will and will align our prayer life to match. We are encouraged to pray with the Spirit. (Ephesians 6:18) Sometimes I just don’t have the right words to express my heartfelt longings to God so the Spirit speaks on my behalf. He makes my petitions known to God and spreads peace all over my heart. We don’t have to worry about anything. The Lord has us covered. His Spirit is evidence that greater is He who lives in me than the one who lives in this world. His Spirit gives me confidence. I can tell God when I need and thank Him for hearing me. It is God’s Spirit that produces God’s Peace in our heart and mind when given the space to operate in us and through us. He will guard our heart and mind from the lie of the enemy while we wait on God.
James 5:13-16 (NLT) Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven. Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.
As Daniel prayed the angel of the Lord came to Him and said, “Don’t be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer.” (Daniel 10:12) I know sometimes prayer seems one-sided. There are times when prayer doesn’t seem to be doing anything but soaking up precious minutes better spent on something else. Prayer is a powerful weapon in our life laid down easily to pick up weapons unworthy of the battles that we face. We exchange our faith to carry weapons not meant for us. David could not wear Saul’s armor to kill the giant. He stepped out with complete faith and confidence in the Living God. I wonder how many conversations that the shepherd boy engaged in tending his father’s flocks? Endless hours alone with no one to talk to but sheep and God. Hmm… Do you feel lonely today? A little bit lost. Could it be that the Lord is whispering to your heart today? Is He saying, “Come and talk to me”? The angel of the Lord told Daniel that the “first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before Your God, your request was heard.” Maybe that thing you stopped praying for was not complete yet. Perhaps the timer on your promise or blessing had not gone off yet and it was partial and incomplete. Just because there was no movement or change in your natural circumstances doesn’t mean that Heaven was not on high alert. God answers the prayers of the righteous.
The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. Do you believe that today? Before you answer, let me ask you, did you pray today? See if we truly believe that prayer has power then we would pray every day. If we believe that every promise belongs to us by faith in Jesus Christ, we would stop conversing with others telling them of our unmet needs and heartfelt desires and take them to Him. I am challenged to pray more than ever before. I am pressed to pray without stopping. I must humble myself in prayer before the Lord. I repent of my sin and choose to forgive. My prayer holds power when I am righteous. His Grace is sufficient for me. It is enough. It is by His Grace that I am able to have the Promises of God prescribed for my life. Not according to my will, but His Will be done.
Colossians 4:2 (NLT) Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.