January 18, 2011 § Leave a comment
“You can do more than pray, after you have prayed, but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed.“~John Bunyan
As I was making plans for the New Year, one word kept coming up, “pray.” I encountered books on prayer, scripture on prayer, and my husband even brought home a beautiful votive with the word, “pray,” written inside it. Even I can take a hint! Prayer was, and is, on my spiritual radar.
As I questioned and saught wisdom Faithful God instructed me on the discipline of prayer (Matthew 6:8, Luke 11:13). Consider Matthew 6:5-15 as a starting point for questions like those bombarding me. (Also see Luke 11). From these verses glean the following:
- Prayer should be a private discipline for communication with God and not for self-glorification before men.
- Keep it simple. There is no need to use flowery words and pious vocabulary.
- When we pray we should confess forgiveness for others as we ask forgiveness for ourselves. We are all sinners in need of God’s grace. When we refuse to forgive someone else then we are disregarding our status in front of the Holy One.
Perhaps the most famous model prayer is The Lord’s Prayer found in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. Based on The Lord’s Prayer, and taken from the book, Face to Face: Praying the Scriptures for Intimate Worship by Kenneth Boa, there can be five segments of a structured prayer. These include:
- Adoration and Thanksgiving- Praise for who God is and thanks for what He has done. (verse 9)
- Affirmation- Agreeing with the will of God and submission unto His will. (verse 10)
- Petition and Intercession- Making requests for yourself (petition) and on behalf of others (intercession) .(verse 11)
- Confession- Asking forgiveness of our sins and confessing forgiveness towards those who may have wronged us. (verse 12)
- Renewal- Seeking the power and filling of the Holy Spirit in our lives. (verse 13)
I like to think of affirmation as surrendering to God’s all knowing and perfect will. As we lay down requests before God we commune with Him and grow in relationship with Him. The point is not that we should get what we ask for, but that the Lord’s will be done in each circumstance. Taking the “yoke” (Matthew 11:29-30) of prayer upon us relinquishes us from the strain of the burden we are carrying and enfolds our hearts with His.
If the request is wrong, God says, “No.”
If the timing is wrong, God says, “Slow.”
If you are wrong, God says, “Grow.”
But if the request is right, the timing is right and you are right, God says, “Go!”
Bill Hybels, Too Busy Not to Pray, IVP, p. 74.
John F. DeVries, in his book, Why Pray?, makes the comparison of prayer and work to being two spiritual feet. Both are necessary to walking with God. I am starting 2011 on the “prayer” foot followed by the “work” foot. Pray, work, pray, work, pray, work…… all the way to 2012. Will you join me?
Raise the Risk Challenge:
- Study the prayer life of Daniel, Jesus, or David as you launch or sharpen your own prayer life.
- Intercede on behalf of the nations with daily e-mails from www.operationworld.org.
- Be vulnerable and share your prayer requests with a few trusted believers who will lift up your needs before God’s throne.