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Praying Life -- Biblical Direction for Developing a Strong Prayer Life
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Discovering the Praying Life
As a child, I remember watching the gentle hands of my mother clasp together as she prayed; emulating her actions, I closed my eyes and would pray only the prayers that could exist in the realm of a child's praying life.
But while we often ask for simple, material things as children, our child-like faith then isn't too far off from what God envisioned for his children as they developed their praying life.
As defined in scripture, praying throughout your lifetime will not only help us remember the goodness of God, but is the most effective tool in fighting the enemy, reducing feelings of stress and fear and living under the will of our Father.
But, how does someone pray correctly? What makes a good prayer?
While there are no magic words in prayer, the Bible does give us several clues as to how we can build a strong prayer life.
Are Your Prayers Effective?
The most effective prayer warriors, according to scripture, are those who are:
- Willing to Accept God’s Will
- Turning Worries, Complaints into Prayer
- Praying for Others
- Assured God Will Answer
- and, Turning Prayers into Praise
In Matthew 21:21-22 (NLT), Jesus told the disciples Christians can pray for and about anything; “You can even say to this mountain, ’May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen.” Indeed, you can pray for anything, and as Christ said, you shall receive it.
Of course, our Heavenly Father will not answer prayers which can cause us to stumble into sin. As we should strive to live in God’s will for our lives, we must be willing to accept God’s will in our prayers, even if that means His answer will be “no.”
Accepting God's Will. In Genesis 18-19, we find Abraham interceding for the town of Sodom, where sexual sin was rampant. From fifty to thirty to ten people, Abraham asked God if he even found a handful of faithful among the city of sin that he might spare the city for their sake; while God tells Abraham he will spare the city for the sake of only 10 followers he might find, by morning Abraham finds He destroyed the city in the midst of perversion while keeping the faithful Lot safe.
While God will answer our prayers, we must be willing to accept God’s will--and not our own--in the outcome.
Turning Worries, Complaints into Prayer. When Esau issued a threat to kill his brother Jacob (Genesis 32:8-12), Jacob turned to God in prayer before being reunited with Esau 20 years after stealing his birthright (25:29-27:42). Likewise, when the community of Israel camped at Rephidim in Exodus 17, we find Moses nearly at his wit’s end when he turns to God for a source of water, rather than joining the Israeli's pity party. The result? Esau threw his arms around Jacob when they met on the battleground and Moses was directed to strike a bone-dry boulder that would produce water for the masses.
As Paul directed the Philippians, “Don’t worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done,” (Philippians 4:6 NLT).
Praying for Others. Strong, effective prayer warriors would be wise to heed Samuel's advice, who indicated failure to pray for others is a sin. Despite Israel's desire for a king in Saul, an idea Samuel was vehemently opposed to, the judge of Israel promised to pray for and continue to teach the love of God despite their turning against him (1 Samuel 12:23). In his letter to the church in Ephesus, the Apostle Paul encouraged Christians to "[p]ray in the Spirit at all times and on all occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere," (Ephesians 6:18 NLT).
By keeping others firmly in your prayers, even your enemies, you are ensuring greater blessing in your own prayer life.
Assured God Will Answer. Strong, effective prayer warriors also carry the assurance God will answer all our prayers, even if they aren't answered in our own time. Psalm 4:3 guarantees this, when David said, "You can be sure of this: The Lord set apart the godly for himself. The Lord will answer when I call to him." Of course, our Heavenly Father will answer in His time--the best time. Remain faithful, as Zechariah and Elizabeth did in praying for a child. While Elizabeth was far past her prime for having children, an angel startled Zechariah in the sanctuary years later declaring "God has heard your prayer," (Luke 1:11), sharing the news of the coming birth of their son, John. Had Zechariah not been so faithful in prayer all those years, the birth of one of Christ's most dedicated servants would not have been fulfilled in their family.
Turning Prayer into Praise. The final means of praying effectively is to live and pray in a spirit of thankfulness and praise, even when the wrong things are happening in your life. In Psalm 54, David chronicles how his enemies were coming against him with violence and persecution, and yet, he still found the time to praise the name of God; he proclaimed, "But God is my helper. The Lord keeps me alive!" (54:4 NLT). Similar transitions from prayer to praise occur throughout the Psalms, as David faced everyday trouble--and even worse--like you and I.
By living in a spirit of thanksgiving and praise, assurance of God's answer to our prayers, remembering and petitioning for others before God, turning to the Father in times of great trouble and choosing to accept God's will for our lives, scripture tells us our prayer life can lead to times of great blessing, mercy and favor.
Choose to be a prayer warrior today and pray the Creator will guide your path to victory. Work to develop a strong prayer life. Pray boldly and without ceasing, and I know our God will show up and show out in new ways you never even imagined.