I’m passionate about prayer. Therefore, I’ve devoted the past twenty years to learning everything I can about communicating with God. As I’ve learned, I’ve also taught. I want everyone else to be passionate about prayer.
When asked to teach at an event, I’m usually asked, “How much time do you need?”
“As much as you will give me, and then some.”
Because they never give me enough time, I often show up with handouts. Pages of prayer tips, prayer guides, sample prayers, bibliographies, and a host of resources I’ve collected through the years from great prayer warriors.
I can teach you how to pray for our government, children, spouses, and churches. I know how to pray for revival and how to intercede for the lost. I can show you the prayers that Jesus esteems and those He rebukes. Just ask and I’ll show in scripture what needs to be evident in your prayers to move mountains and heal the sick.
If your prayer life is nonexistent or just struggling, I’ll give practical tips on hearing His voice, thanksgiving, repentance, and taking every thought captive. I’ll encourage you on how to truly worship, pray with power and read His Word in His Presence.
But it’s all bordering on worthless.
Because practicing all the above without dealing with the root of the issue is counterproductive. We don’t pray because we don’t know how. We don’t pray because we don’t love God enough to spend time with Him. We simply don’t know Him enough to want Him.
We can and often do have heads full of knowledge but hearts empty of desire.
To resurrect a dead prayer life you need to pray these three simple sentences:
- “Lord, I want to know You.”
- “I do believe, help me with my unbelief.”
- “Create in me a heart to love You the way You deserve to be loved.”
Here’s what happens when you start praying these. If you sincerely, want to know Him then He delights in revealing Himself. You will have a new hunger for His Word. As you read, He will teach you truths you never saw before and visions of Him that leave you astounded, wanting more of Him.
But then the enemy of our souls will raise his ugly head and try to destroy everything good. Satan fears a saint who prays. So he will try desperately to convince you of all the reasons God would never listen to you, love you, or want to be near you. The liar will tell you God’s promises are unfaithful. You will have to believe God is who He says He is and will do what He says He will do in order to become a mighty prayer warrior.
The way to overcome the seasickness of doubt is to pray for God to pluck you out of that boat tossed by the sea and start believing the Truth. (James 1:5-8)
Last but just as important, die to self as you seek to love Him with all your heart, soul, and mind. Let the Spirit of grace and mercy show you all the stuff of this world you love more than God. Repent.
It’s a beautiful cycle. To know Him is to love Him. The more you love Him, the more you want to know Him.
If you don’t like my three-sentence prayer, then simply ask like the disciples did, “Lord, teach me to pray.” For prayer is knowing and loving God. Amen
I had read several books on the power of prayer. I could quote testimonies of life-changing prayer encounters of saints throughout history. I knew scriptures that displayed glory-filled prayer miracles. And truth be known, that’s what I wanted, all the time.
Truth be told, it’s not always like that. We should never judge our prayer lives by the highlights of others’ testimonies. They have behind the scenes seasons just like us. But any encounter with God is a life-changing prayer.
Solomon was right. After all, he was pretty wise. He said there would be seasons in life. In those seasons your prayers will match the mood of your heart.
There will be times when you sing His praises,
There will be times when you scream your frustrations.
There will be times when you confidently ask,
There will be times when you groan in confusion.
There will be times of cheering His answers,
There will be times of weeping the agony of defeat.
There will be times He sits close and instructs,
There will be times when you plead, “Where are you?”
There will be times when you hear, “Well done!”
There will be times when you lament, “Woe to me!”
There will be times when you intercede for others,
There will be times when you beg for yourself.
There will be times of silence and solace,
There will be times of jubilant dancing.
But in all the times, the goal is to behold Him
“I strongly suspect that if we saw all the difference even the tiniest of our prayers make, and all the people those little prayers were destined to affect, and all the consequences of those prayers down through the centuries, we would be so paralyzed with awe at the power of prayer that we would be unable to get up off our knees for the rest of our lives.” Peter Kreeft, author and professor
I have no doubt that every word Dr. Kreeft spoke is true. A simple prayer can toss a mountain into the sea with ripple effects to a thousand generations. Someday in Glory we will marvel at the tsunamis of our prayers and fall prostrate at His feet overwhelmed by the majesty of it all.
But as grand as all that, prayer power is NOT the real motivation to pray. I want answered prayers as much as you. I need a few mountains crushed. I desire doors opened and pathways worked in neon lights. But if that’s the heart of why I pray then I’ve missed the grandest treasure of all.
The truest reason to pray, the motivation of every heart is to have a glorious face-to-face with the Almighty God of the Universe. The Ancient of Days who sits upon the Throne. The I Am that I Am. The Creator and Sustainer of Life. The Holy, Holy, Holy One.
I pray so that I can behold Him.
Even if He sent 10,000 angels to answer my prayer.
Even if He opened my eyes to see those 10,000 angels.
Even if I’m allowed to watch them pummel the forces of darkness.
Even if I view the angels’ dance of victory over me.
I would consider all that nothing compared to the privilege of entering His Presence in prayer. He is the motivation and He is the very great reward.
Father, forgive me when I lose sight of the miracle of prayer.
If you struggle, as I often do, maybe these tips will help us all.
- Before uttering a word of petition, read the recorded praises in scripture.
- Stand as you read them aloud.
- Sing praises to Him.
- When you fall on your knees, you are now in a glorious face-to-face.
- Savor Him.
My body hurts. Truly, every muscle and joint from head to toe feels the pain of my new gym membership.
I went in pretty confident, I knew from my past aerobic training how to pace myself with modifications and lightweights. Also at my age, I no longer strive to outdo the others in the class.
But I’m still sore, especially in the knees, which is a huge hindrance to every activity. Here’s why. These past eight years I lived where my only regular form of exercise has been walking. Though that’s good, it’s limiting.
Only a few muscles are stretched and toned. The rest are weak and easily damaged. Even though my cardio endurance may be great, far too many muscles simply can’t keep up with this new pace. Therefore, they rebel.
That just about sums up my prayer life as well. I’ve been in a rut, a routine of the same old prayers in the same old way. It may be acceptable but it’s limited. So I decided to strive for the next level. I desire that place where I’m overwhelmed by His glory and revel in His majesty. Unfortunately my weak heart and untrained mind are fighting against me.
I started this series a few weeks ago with two blogs. You might want to reread: Unfocused in Prayer and Come-over to God. In the first I described my prayer problem and in the second I visualized the ultimate prayer experience. I’m somewhere in a pit between the two.
Painful pit dwelling can be great places to learn. I now know that I have to isolate each muscle to stretch and tone it slowly. This requires perseverance, patience, and passion. I have to love it enough to persevere through all the hard work and pain.
The same is true with prayer. Weak believers can be strengthened. Untrained believers can mature. But lazy believers never become prayer warriors.
The first step is to create a place for prayer. It needs to be somewhere free from distractions (TV, hobbies, food, phone, children, etc.) Jesus referred to that special place as a prayer closet. In our busy society, hiding away in a closet isn’t such a bad idea. You may feel silly at first but it could become a sweet haven.
Your prayer place should be intimate yet uncomfortable. Yes, it should have the ambience of worship and aloneness with your Heavenly love. But at the same time, it should not be so comfortable that you will fall asleep. Recliners, beds, or lawn chairs have been the downfall of many prayer warriors.
You’ll need lighting for Bible reading and journal writing plus I recommend space to stretch out prostrate before Him. Be creative and make it special. Think of it this way, you are preparing a place to entertain the King of kings and Lord of lords. Put the same effort you’d exert for your dearest friend. Just remember, this friend is also Royally Divine.
Photos are from Googling Prayer Closet. I hope they spark some ideas.
Coming soon…The room is ready, now what?
Our Father in Heaven…
We begin well, but then, the distractions start to well, distract us. What do we do?
If you’re thinking about food, fast.
If you’re thinking about money, give.
If you’re thinking about hobbies, put away.
If you’re thinking about your to-do list, don’t do.
If you’re thinking about your fears, let go.
There is only one-way to overcome distractions: come over to God. Take the appropriate opposite action. Show your love for God by giving up the distraction.
There’s the motivation: it’s how we show our love for God. We’re not performing a ritual. Prayer is not a program or routine. It was never intended to be a struggle.
When we pray we enter into the Throne Room of the Almighty One.
Visualize the Tabernacle in Glory.
The altar at the gate flows with the cleansing redeeming blood of Jesus. Enter through the blood.
Ask and it shall be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. Matthew 7:7
You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. John 14:14
Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him. 1 John 3:21-22
Read His Word until the curtains of the Holy Place part, awe at the sight. The dividing curtain is gone. No more angels with flaming swords keeping us from His Presence.
Marvel at His Majesty displayed before you. Fall on your knees at the scene described in Isaiah 6 and Revelation 4 & 5. This is the place of prayer.
There are only two responses to such an encounter: worship through repentance. “Woe to me for I am __________________.” You will fill in the blanks. No one can truly enter His Presence and not be overcome by their sin. That’s how I know I am with Him.
Stay still. Here in this place nothing else matters. No hunger pains, no worries or fears, no worldly distractions can penetrate His glory. The things of this world fade away. Time stands still.
Let your heart worship and adore Him. Ask for nothing. Listen.
When He speaks, respond with a joyful “Yes Lord!”
Share your heart, accept His love, and enjoy each other.
Stay until you don’t want to leave.
If you need help,I’ll share more of what He’s teaching me in my next post.
“Write about what you know.” Gil gave this advice to Anne and she wrote a best seller about her life at Green Gables. Wonder if it will work for me?
I know distractions. My mind is immersed in a swirling sea of frustrations, ideas, truths, lies, plans, and desires. I can’t seem to nail one thing down and stick with it. Wow, I can’t believe I finished the stenciling in one day. I love it.
My prayer life suffers when I’m like this. How about you? Do you struggle to stay focused? I just remembered my friends are coming for our prayer fellowship and lunch tomorrow. I better find a dessert recipe and go to the store.
When I’m like this I feel a million miles from God. Life gets harder when I’m not in His Presence. I really miss Eli. What excuse can I use to call Tori?
I determined the other day to spend time with the Lord or die trying. I settled into my comfy recliner with notepaper, phone, tea, and of course, my Bible. I knew what to do from all the years of teaching people about prayer. I look out the French doors to begin worship.
The backyard really needs some work. I wonder if we can afford a play set for Eli. I need curtains for the door. I’ll put the tapestry from Ireland on the right side to balance the hall tree on the left. Yeah, that would be perfect.
“You are Lord of creation and Lord of my life”
“No I Am not!”
“You love all those distractions more than Me.”
He was right. He always is. I would much rather think about Eli and his sweet smiley face. I get more excited about decorating my house than I do reading His Word. I’m more interested in pleasing my friends than pleasing Him. Like a divine power point presentation, the truths flash in rapid-fire sequence across my mind.
The only logical thing to do after this revelation is to get off my feet and on my knees in repentance. The problem is not the distractions. The problem is, I desire them more than Him. The problem is in my heart, not my mind. I can’t take every thought captive when I love the thought.
Let’s get honest. It’s always a love issue.
Father, Holy God, have mercy on me. I now see that the distractions are not the issue, my heart is the culprit. I don’t love You the way You deserve. I’ve lost the desire for You above all things. I don’t get excited about being with You. I don’t thrill at the thought of a moment in Your Presence. I want it but I want these others things too, even more so.
Oh please forgive me for the weakness of my heart. Please forgive me for the wasted days while walking in the things of the world. Please forgive me for being unwilling to see and savor only You. Please forgive me.
I’ve been lazy. I know it takes effort, perseverance, and passion to guard my heart. I refused to even try. I listened to the lies of the enemy and believed You were angry with me and would never accept me again. I doubted Your mercy and grace for a wayward child.
Here I am for I have nowhere else to go. Who else has the love I so desperately need. You alone have the answers. You alone have grace abounding. Restore me for without You I am lost. Amen
I lack words. I have none that express the horrors of imprisonment. I’m not speechless. I’m inadequate.
Maybe together we can taste the bile of desperation, pain, and hopelessness if we will pause from our comfort and imagine …
A broken and caged POW isolated from his comrades hearing only the screams of torture as he waits the inevitable.
The young Holocaust victim corralled in procession with other frightened children, inhaling only the gaseous stench of death.
A diseased African woman in the belly of a ship ripped away from her children and abused at the hands of slave traders, facing only a future of torturous labor.
The murderer on death row with only his demons to keep him company as they torture his mind and eat away at his soul.
Each of them dreaming of home, they crave freedom from this present age.
Most likely you have never been a captive of war, a victim of racism, or a prisoner of crimes committed. Maybe you are. Today there are millions of slaves held against their will while used for sex trade or hard labor. Countless numbers are trapped within violent gangs, racist wars, cults, and far more common, abusive homes. All are trapped and pleading for freedom.
You may be unable to relate to these evil environments, but if you were born on planet Earth, you were born a slave. Your body wrecked by sin. Your soul held captive by Satan. Death, your only guarantee.
It happens something like this:
From our first breath of earthly air, the countdown to our last breath begins. Cuddly babies, giggly tots, playful children, adventurous teens into maturing adults, at every stage the disease of sin hardens the heart, controls the brain, and chokes out life.
In the early years, it’s hardly noticeable, a lie here and a temper tantrum there. But as it spreads it controls every thought and motive until we acknowledge we do what we don’t want to do and don’t do what we want to do.
The search for peace, joy and fulfillment consumes us. Nothing satisfies the hollow pit of our soul. Fears confine, despair strangles, agony consumes, until life is a tragedy. A stage of characters acting and reacting to the treadmill of daily drudgery.
But what Satan intended to destroy, God planned to redeem. Every human is pursued by the presence and power of the Almighty who stirs the conscience, opens eyes, and enlightens hearts with His Truth.
The rescued simply responded, “Save me, Jesus.”
All the power of the supernatural God moves the forces of nature to scoop us out of the darkness and cradle us against His heart. Gently he washes away the filth of sin until we are as white as snow. He dresses us in royal robes and puts a crown upon our heads.
He calls the forces of darkness to stand alert as He anoints our head with oil, breathes the fullness of His Spirit into our bodies, and trumpets our new standing as His heir, His child. The angels rejoice. Jesus beams. The Father admires His plan.
Another is rescued and redeemed from this present evil age. Free!
He stoops down, gently kissing our forehead, picks us up…and then puts us right back in the present evil age to live out our days.
But now we’re different. We are aliens in this world. We lose nothing of what He gave us.
The filth and grime of this world can’t penetrate His holiness in us.
The weapons of the enemy bounce off our armor.
We move about with effortless ease as we follow his footsteps.
Sadness and grief seep all around us but we remain full of joy and hope.
Sickness and disease can attack us but not defeat us.
Pressures and deadlines mean nothing.
Evil can torture and kill us but our rescued souls live victoriously.
We are free to live like Superman only there is no kryptonite. All the super heroes had a weakness. Jesus did NOT. Neither do we…unless we doubt.
Oh Father, I do believe, help me with my unbelief.
Answer: “It’s butt.”
Okay, forgive my crude humor but I bet you snickered.
The first time I was asked that question, I started analyzing an answer. I assumed the bug would be human and have fear of death, or sadness for leaving loved ones, or higher thinking skills to try evasive measures.
When given the punch line, I laughed. It was a good ‘gotcha’ moment for my friend and it taught me yet another lesson.
Don’t always overthink things. God keeps things simple so even a child can obey.
So now let me ask, “What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word ‘worship’?”
Did any of these words pop into your head?
Church, Christians, traditional, contemporary, choruses, hymns, praise band, musical instruments.
These are the most common synonyms to worship.
But maybe you are more poetic by nature and these images formed in your mind.
Sunrise, sunset, rainbow, rushing waters, ocean breezes, baby’s laughter,
Though all or some of those things may help you in worship, there is only one word synonymous with worship.
The only component necessary for true worship is God. When The Almighty is present every responsive heart will worship.
Too often believers argue about worship style. One group loves the hymns of old while another group can only ‘worship’ with modern choruses. Many churches try to offer both to appease the desires of the people. These churches are destined to inhibit worship.
Yes, I truly meant to say that church leaders with intent on making people happy have instantly squashed any hope of true worship. Sadly they don’t even know it. In these churches everyone leaves humming their favorite tunes, satisfied that their needs were met, and therefore assume that true worship transpired.
But scripture teaches that worship is a response to God. Therefore without God’s presence there is no worship. So you say, well God is always at my church. God is always in my heart. God meets me everyday when I have my devotions. Oh how I hope that is true.
But for most, it is not.
In the coming weeks, I will share scriptural examples of worship, how to know God is in your presence, how to prepare our hearts to respond to Him, and the effects of true worship in our lives. Along the way, I hope we’ll learn the mistakes we make to hinder His presence. In other words, I hope we’ll learn to quickly discern false worship.
True worship is a sign that God is truly in our midst.
By faith Jacob, when he was dying blessed each of Joseph’s sons, and worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff. Hebrews 11:21
Once strong masculine hands are now twisted around his staff unable to loosen its grip.
Unable or unwilling?
As long as Jacob had breath and his heart still beat, he would grasp that staff and worship His God.
As a young man Jacob fled his home with only his staff. His staff was in his hand when he wooed his beloved Rachel. I imagine they carved their initials deep into its bark to symbolize their undying love.
I wonder how many times Jacob bashed his staff against the boulders of afflictions hurled at him from Laben or pounded the earth over his frustrations at the injustice of Leah.
That staff staved off danger from the beasts that threatened his family and his flocks. It supported little hands as his children and then grandchildren wobbled to walk.
After an all-night angelic wrestling match, I wonder how much that staff bent to hold his limped weight for the rest of his steps on this earth?
Somehow I suspect that after his beloved Rachel died, that staff shortened in stature as Jacob drug it along side his broken-hearted body.
I imagine the notches marking the growth of his blessed Joseph covered by hideous indentions as he bit hard into that wood in hopeless attempts to silence his sorrows when Joseph was lost to him.
That staff told his life. That staff was a symbol of the faithfulness of God.
In Genesis 32:9-12 we hear Jacob pray, “O God of my father Abraham, God of my father Isaac, O LORD, who said to me, ‘Go back to your country and your relatives, and I will make you prosper,’ I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness you have shown your servant, I had only my staff when I crossed this Jordan, but now I have become….
Now at the end of his life, his eyes beheld a resurrected Joseph. His feeble gnarly hands blessed his descendants. His grasped tightened as he replayed every chip, notch and bend of his life engrained in his staff.
Absent from the stage were choirs, instrumentalists, priests, or Bibles. In this scene, there is a man grasping as tight to his cherished staff as his dying body grasped his adoring heart.
One other was there. His God.
Worship is the response of an adoring heart to the magnificence of God. In the highest sense of the word, it is the occupation of the created with the Creator Himself. It is the pure joy of magnifying the One whose name is above every other name. Dr. Henry Blackaby
Jacob worshiped because his God was there with Him in every memory of his past and in every promise of his future. He could worship for he had the assurance of the mighty hand of God holding him tight. His staff was proof God had never left him or forsaken him.
What in your life is equivalent to Jacob’s staff? What bears the bends of bruises of your life? What reminds you of His faithfulness through the years?
For me it is my Bible. I bought it over 20 years ago, the day after God revived my heart. He took an arrogant selfish heart and created in it an undying passion for Him and His holiness. Through the years, I have recorded personal messages in the margins, crinkled the pages with my tears, and wore the book ragged until it nearly falls apart in my hands.
But every time I open it and read, God is there, and I worship.
Jacob is a man worthy of reflection. He was a man of many failures. He loved the Lord. He respected the covenant of God. He knew he was the chosen son. He manipulated when circumstances looked bleak. He deceived when it suited him.
He knew blessings. He knew curses. He had much, then little, then much again. God opened heaven to show him the staircase. Later, he wrestled with the Angel of God. He was dramatically changed by each experience.
He was hated. He forgave. He showed favoritism in wives and children. He suffered because of it. He knew firsthand the heartache of mourning a beloved wife and child.
His life is much like any believer of the One True God. Not one of us is perfect. Yet we are all blessed.
Jacob’s story spans 20 chapters of Genesis (Genesis 29-49). Only Moses surpassed that much ink. Yet when Jacob’s life is summed up in Hebrews Hall of Fame it is one sentence.
He died well. His greatest accomplishments were his son Joseph who was used of God to save the nation and his blessings to his descendants. The last recorded words concerning Jacob, he worshiped.
I want to die well. I would be honored to have as my epitaph : She blessed her children and worshiped her God.
For this reason, I will use the coming Wednesdays and share with you what I’m learning about worship. True worship. The kind of worship that blesses God, who blesses me, so that I can then bless others.
Come, let us worship together.