Like many people, I used to struggle in my prayer life. I would feel guilty, condemn myself and even evade the topic of prayer with others because I felt like a failure. I thought that my good work, faithful church attendance and tithing would offset the fact that my prayer life wasn’t what it should be for someone like me who professed an undying faith in Jesus. I would try to have devotions before I’d pray and fall asleep while reading scriptures. I’d engage in corporate prayer at church, but that didn’t satisfy the intimacy I needed with the Lord that comes through personal, private prayer.
I know that prayer is one of three powerful tools we have as believers. The other tools of fasting and studying the word are only complemented by having a strong, consistent prayer life. The bible says in the book of James 5:16 “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” This declaration that James makes reminds us that God hears and responds to prayer. He loves when we seek Him, worship Him and acknowledge Him. He loves to bless us! He wants us to know Him in a personal way and prayer offers us that. Prayer gives us a calming peace coupled with security that only the Father can provide for us. This peace that surpasses all understanding that is mentioned in Phillipians 4:7 is given to us freely by a God who loves us unconditionally.
I wanted to seek God about my prayer life and in order to do so I felt I had to make some declarations. The first one I made was that I needed a spiritual overhaul. The second was that I needed to repent to God for avoiding prayer and making excuses for not praying consistently. Next I wanted to learn how to pray so that my prayers were effective.
I needed to re-examine the scripture in James 5:16. It cites that the prayers of the righteous carry weight with the Lord, however it also states that we must “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed.” I didn’t realize it at the time, but I needed to be honest with fellow believers that I was struggling with finding quality time to cultivate my prayer life. I needed their support, their prayers and their love to help me get through the dry season I was experiencing with prayer. The times of pretending, hiding and borderline lying about how much time I was spending with God needed to stop. Immediately!
Next I wanted God to teach me how to pray. I searched the word and took a new look at the Lord’s prayer. In Matthew 6:9 Jesus tells the disciples how NOT to pray. He talked in the previous verses about “vain repetitions”. In other words, I shouldn’t try to impress God with selfish, distant prayers that petition Him over and over for the same things. I needed to be honest with God about whatever I needed at that moment. The next thing God revealed to me was that I needed to have conversations with the Lord, not feel like prayer is a forced, painful ritual that requires me to ‘put in time’. When I thought of prayer this way, as a duty it created a bondage for me and therefore I’d avoid it. When I re-read the Lord’s prayer I learned to dialogue with God which is what praying really is. This type of prayer teaches me to simply acknowledge God by telling Him his name is “hallowed”, sacred and holy. It tells me to ask God to make His will known in my life (thy kingdom come thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven). It reminds me to ask God for provision or daily bread, to forgive me for anything I’ve done amiss and to have mercy on people that sin against me. This passage told me to always ask God to keep temptations from me while keeping delivered from evil. Then the closing acknowledges His sovereign power.
God used this prayer to give me a revelation. My spirit was illuminated after reading this passage! Why I never saw this before I can’t answer but I will never forget the day I’d received this revelation concerning prayer. The Lord showed me that I was simply making too much of a production of prayer. When I used to do this, it would make praying a burdensome task and I’d feel bondage not freedom. I couldn’t feel God’s love because I felt the bondage of obligation. The Lord showed me that praying isn’t a prison. It’s a way to simply talk to my best friend~Jesus! I didn’t have to have a structured prayer time every day. I could pray to the Father ANYTIME of day, any day of the week. Tradition taught me to set aside a prayer time daily begin and end. The Lord showed me that I could pray in my car, in class, at work or even in the kitchen when preparing dinner for the family. I could pray when washing dishes or while I’m cleaning the bathroom. I learned that my prayers to God don’t have to have be formal, they just need to be sincere.
I learned that God loves when we talk to Him. He loves when we are honest with Him and tell Him our vulnerabilities so He can fix what ails us. He wants us to cast all of our cares on Him. I’m so glad I sought the Lord about prayer because it freed me from the man made traditions that I was taught concerning prayer. Yes I could still have a set time daily to meet the Lord in prayer if I choose however if I miss that time, I could still talk to the Father and He will honor my prayer. The reason why I love the Lord so much is because when we struggle with issues, He speaks the answers. If we continue to listen we will hear Him. He loves us too much to allow us to feel any oppression because whom Jesus set free is free indeed.
Talk to the Father where ever you are so you too can begin to have honest conversations with the Lord. Make Him your best friend. That is the secret of prayer…..
Be encouraged child of the most high God~!