Prayer is the origination point and seedbed for the work of God in and through our lives.
- James 5:16 NLT…”The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”
I once read a great truth about prayer from Samuel Chadwick (1860-1932), “Satan dreads nothing but prayer. His one concern is to keep the saints from praying. He fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work, prayerless religion. He laughs at our toil, he mocks our wisdom, but he trembles when we pray.”
Prayer: Important but Often Neglected
Prayer is more than anything else communication with God, and the vehicle for walking with Him in His purpose. Jesus “Would often slip away to private places to pray” (Luke 5:16). The early Church “devoted themselves to prayer” (Acts 2:42).
Most Christians would acknowledge the importance of prayer, but that doesn’t mean they all have a healthy active prayer life. Many leaders realize that the prayer meetings in a church are often the least attended. I remember one man I knew who was involved in a Charismatic mega-church. I was so excited when he told me that their church would get 200-600 people showing up for their prayer meetings. Then a dose of reality hit me about prayer when he told me the church was over 10,000 people. It is troubling when we realize how often it’s neglected among God’s people.
The origination point for continually experiencing His life
A living relationship with the living God is God’s design for the covenant we have in Jesus. Paul contrasts the new covenant with the old in 2 Corinthians 3 and the key feature is a “face to face” relationship with Jesus. This is the seedbed for change in His ever-increasing glory.
- 2 Corinthians 3:18 ESR And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
Our face-to-face communication with Jesus is the seedbed for all personal change and Kingdom advancement. Much gets communicated face-to-face. In that posture, we are more able to hear what is being communicated. In His sermon on the mount, Jesus describes it as “entering into the private place before God and the God who sees in private will reward you” (Matthew 6:4-6).
Religious Praying Falls Short of His Desire
Many Christians would admit that they struggle with consistency in their everyday face-to-face prayer time with Jesus. It is something that everyone knows they need but often struggle with consistency. Why is it so hard and is there anything that can help?
One challenge is that prayer is a spiritual experience, but we are used to communicating in the five sensory realms. Our mind operates based on stimulation from the five senses. In prayer, we are forcing our minds to communicate outside of those five senses. We must train our minds to enter spiritual communication with Him through consistent prayer.
A major misunderstanding among Charismatics about “being religious.”
Charismatics mistakenly think that “being religious” means being comfortable with “high church” or “traditional church” worship styles (outward formality with little actual heart in it). Yet Charismatics can be just as religious. If all they have is a corporate experience with high-energy meetings, amazing music, mood-enhancing lights, beautiful images on a big screen, and Spirit-filled worship leaders, but it doesn’t translate into daily face-to-face communication with God, it is a problem. Their experience becomes just as religious as any high church experience they look down on.
Just because we believe in the full activity of the Spirit and love lively church gatherings doesn’t mean we are embracing God’s design for our everyday life. It is good to remember that one of Holy Spirit’s key attributes in our lives centers on prayer.
- Romans 8:26 …we we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit Himself prays for/through us with unspoken groanings.
- Ephesians 6:18 With all prayer and petition pray at all times in Holy Spirit.
- Jude1:20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in Holy Spirit
Spirit-filled experiences should affect our everyday prayer life. Holy Spirit helps us with prayer, so any claim of a Spirit-filled life will be seen in consistent prayer.
7 Biblical tips that will help is in face-to-face communication with God
1. It takes discipline to be regular and consistent. The only way to develop a consistent prayer life is to pray consistently. Discipline means guiding your thoughts and actions in ways that they don’t always want to go.
- 1Timothy 4:7-8…On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness (GW train yourself to live a godly life); (8) for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things.
If we try to fit face-to-face prayer time into our day, it will rarely happen. Why, because there will always be things that come up to sidetrack prayer.
The Bible puts a premium on morning prayer. It is a first-fruit time in which we are the clearest before the day begins. If you can’t do morning prayer, make sure you set another time (that works in your schedule) that is a priority that you attend to everyday.
I like what Pete Greig said about these previous two points of real language and consistency, “Keep it simple, keep it real and keep it up.”
2. Thanksgiving praise and worship are essential to entering God’s presence and staying alert once you are there. Remember when the Bible uses the phrase “the presence of God” it means “in front of or before the face of.” It is speaking of face-to-face communication with God. Gratitude helps draw us to Him and keeps us alert with Him as we pray.
- Psalms 100:4 Enter His gates with thanksgiving And His courts with praise.
- Colossians 4:2 Never be finished praying and stay alert in it with thanksgiving.
3. Find a private place where you can be alone and undistracted with God. This is how Jesus consistently prayed and what He meant by the “inner room.” He said it is the “secret place before the Father who sees in secret” (Mt 6:4-18).
- Matthew 6:5-7 “When you pray, don’t be like hypocrites. They like to stand in synagogues and on street corners to pray so that everyone can see them. I can guarantee this truth: That will be their only reward. (6) When you pray, go to your room and close the door. Pray privately to your Father who is with you. Your Father sees what you do in private. He will reward you.
- Luke 5:16 But Jesus would (NASV Often) go away to places where he could be alone for prayer.
4. Actual language, not religious eloquence, is the language of prayer. When Jesus taught on everyday prayer in Matthew 6:5-15 He frowned on religious language. Instead, He wanted real communication from the heart, not religious eloquence.
5. Shouting or raising your voice is a good way to create alertness and focus. Shouting is by far the most common expression of praise and interaction with God in the Scripture. It uses shouting 265 times. Shouting brings our foggy mind to a sense of focus and alertness.
- Psalms 95:1-2 Let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation. (2) Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving, Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.
- Psalms 142:1 I cry aloud with my voice to the LORD; I make supplication with my voice to the LORD.
6. It is good to alternate praying in the Spirit (praying in tongues) with praying with your understanding. This helps cultivate a Spiritual atmosphere and engages us with the Spirit of God. 1
- Corinthians 14:15 What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.
7. Use Scriptural prayers as a pattern and example. It is good to know the examples of how people prayed in the Bible to help guide our prayers. I have all the prayers of the New Testament and some from the Old Testament on the following document, Theology of Apostolic Prayer.
Our face-to-face interaction with God is an essential covenant design. Let’s take the advice mentioned earlier, “Keep it simple, keep it real and keep it up.”
An excellent free tool to help in the struggle over a consistent prayer life
I remember the challenge in my early years of serving Jesus to develop a consistent prayer life. I remember a book by Andrew Murray called “The Prayer Life” that really helped me reach the tipping point in going from an inconsistent to a consistent prayer life. You can download Murray’s book “prayer life” free online.
The biggest thing to help develop a consistent prayer life is to just do it. Prayer is not just a good intention or concept. Prayer is a practice. Let us put these things into practice and watch our prayer lives become more consistent.
Leonard Ravenhill, “No man is greater than his prayer life. A godly man is a praying man.” Robert Murray McCheyne, “What a man is on his knees before God, that he is, and nothing more. A man is no bigger than his prayer life.