Archives For prayer

prayer-bible“There is a mighty lot of difference between saying prayers and praying,” declared a 20th Century preacher. So how can we be sure we’re not just saying prayers, but praying?

In the previous two posts we’ve considered having a morning ritual of meeting with God in the quiet. We’ve surveyed the six musts of how to prepare and spend time with the Lord. In this post, let’s consider praying, and not just praying prayers. The greatest way is praying Scripture.

Why is praying God’s word a wonderful means of prayer? God promises that He is watching over His word to perform it (Jeremiah 1:12). God declares His word will not return to Him empty (Isaiah 55:11). As we pray God’s word, God’s word penetrates us more deeply (Hebrews 4:12). To pray God’s word is to pray God’s will. Praying God’s word moves us to pray timely truths and promises that we may otherwise overlook. Praying God’s word assures that we are not mindlessly saying prayers, but praying.

Many years ago, Pastor Harry Walls of Shades Mountain Independent Church, Birmingham, AL, taught me a beautiful way of praying Scripture. This is a summary of his teaching that I share with you.

Approach the Scripture with the below questions and statements to direct you. We’ll use Psalm 23 as our text for this post.

* What is God saying about God?
Per Psalm 23, God is Shepherd, Satisfier, Leader, Rest-giver, Restorer, Promise-keeper, Comforter, Conqueror, Protector, Victor, Pursuer. He provides resources for courage, confidence, and security. He is intimate, good, righteous, and merciful. He is home.

* What is God saying about me?
According to Psalm 23, deep down I am unsatisfied, needy, lost, confused, weary, fractured, lonely, afraid. I lack courage and confidence. I have enemies (spiritual and otherwise) who want to do me harm. I am exposed and unable to see things as they really are. On my own, I have no protection. Yet God loves me. God protects me. God pursues me with his goodness and mercy every single day of my life. God wants me.

* Talk to God about God.
Now take all that God has revealed about Himself and praise Him for it! Which apply most to your life right now? Now, hush. :-) And just “be” before Him. Allow who God is to be the warm blanket to your soul. Open yourself to what He wants you to know most about Him in the moment.

* Talk to God about me.
Take all that God has revealed about you and admit it to Him. Which most apply to your current situation(s)? Confess it fully before Him. Allow what He’s revealed about you to be covered and redeemed by what He’s revealed about Himself.

* What must I do (regarding what God said about God and about me)?
You can never leave an intimate time with God the same. Ever. Where must you repent? What promise can you claim? What truth helps your unbelief? Who must you apologize to? Forgive? What people do you need to stop fearing? And on and on.

The popular “A.C.T.S.” (Adoration. Confession. Thanksgiving. Supplication.) is also a great way to pray Scripture. Whatever you do, guard against approaching God with a prayer formula. Only let it be your guide to intimate communion with Him.

Is this helpful? Do you pray Scripture? Do you follow “A.C.T.S.”? What is your approach? How do you guard against prayer becoming formulaic?

If we tell people we will pray for them, does that mean we must pray for them every single time we pray or just at certain times? How long are we to pray for someone if we told them we would pray for them?

Paul wrote to Philemon, “I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers…” (Philemon 1:4). Notice that Paul did not say, “I thank my God when I always remember you in my prayers.” So Paul didn’t always remember to pray for Philemon.

Whew.

When someone requests prayer from me, I do one or a combination of these:

* Instead of telling them “I’ll be praying for you,” I pray for them right then and there. Or I get alone and pray for them immediately after our conversation ends.

* If on the phone, I pray for them while on the phone or as soon as I hang up.

* If it’s an e-mail, I pray for them immediately upon reading the e-mail. Or, I pray through the e-mail.

* If they have an ongoing issue that needs intercession, I might write their name on a sticky note and put it where I’ll see it every day until I feel released from praying for the issue.

* Or, I share that when I think of them in the days to come I will pray for them (This is honest. And the person will appreciate the honesty.)

How about you? How else do you remember to pray for people?

prayer_god1. Satisfy my soul.
“Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.” Psalm 90:14

If my soul is satisfied in Christ, I will not seek to satisfy it with sin, accomplishments, and people-pleasing.

2. Open my eyes to the wonder of Your Word.
“Open my eyes, that I may behold wonderful things in Your law.” Psalm 119:18

At times I approach the Bible more out of duty than delight. So before every devotional time, and if I find myself drifting in thought or just reading the text to check it off my daily Bible reading list, I plead out loud, “Holy Spirit, focus me. Open my eyes to BEHOLD wonderful things in Your word!”

3. Turn my heart from selfish gain.
“Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain!” Psalm 119:36

My heart is inclined to selfish gain, selfish influence, selfish achievement, selfish everything. So I plead that my heart be turned away from love of self and toward love for Jesus and others by the power of the Holy Spirit.

4. Give me an undivided heart.
“Teach my your way, Oh Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.” Psalm 86:11

When my heart is divided by fears, confusion, temptations, stresses, pressures, disappointments, anger, or just life distractions, I plead with God to unite my heart to fear and trust Him alone.

5. Keep me from deliberate sins.
“Keep back your servant from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me.” Psalm 19:13

I know the bent of my heart. I know the sins that will grab me by the throat if I entertain them at all. Though those sins will bring fleeting pleasure and escape, I know what they will ultimately cost me, my family, and my church. So I plead hard.

6. Help me walk in your will.
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-17

The will of God is more about who I am than what I am doing. I pray to be captivated by Jesus in the core of who I am so that I will rejoice always, unceasingly pray, and give thanks in everything. Then I walk in confidence knowing that God will take care of everything else.

What Scriptures or truths do you find yourself praying everyday?