This morning I asked what God wanted me to write about. I meandered a while in books I’m reading and reading many passages in the Bible. Then I read the following from the book The Kingdom Woman, which I want to share parts of below. As I finished writing below, I thanked our Lord God for the quiet of this morning, where I didn’t need to rush to work, and I had no distractions. It has been a wonderful morning abiding with our Lord in His Word and in prayer.
The Christian life without prayer is like driving a car with an almost-empty gas tank. You drive on fumes, hoping to make it to your destination before your car sputters and dies. Similarly, many of us try to live without prayer because we think we can get away with it— that is, until we wind up broken down on the side of the road.
We read the story of the widow and the unjust judge (Luke 18:1-8) and see how Christ states clearly that God will hear and answer our prayers. Yet we still neglect this crucial area of life.
We aren’t the only believers to struggle with prayer. Jesus’ disciples asked Him to teach them how to pray because they didn’t know. They asked some of the same questions we do: How do we, as physical beings, communicate with the invisible God? In fact, why do we have to do it at all? Jesus answered their questions in Matthew 6— 7. Jesus introduced how we should pray as well as how we should not pray. The precautions He listed are things to watch out for, because they will ruin our prayer lives. In fact, Jesus gives us the Lord’s Prayer as a pattern or model for reverent, effective communication with God.
Pray Regularly: Prayer is defined as “a believer’s communication with God through the person of Christ and assisted by the work of the Holy Spirit.” At the core of prayer is relational communication with God. There is a difference between talking and communication. When you pray, you are not talking to yourself but to a holy God. He must be on your mind, the focus of your attention and the object of your communication.
Prayer is made possible through Christ alone; the only reason we can get to God is because the blood of Christ opened a door for us. “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6). He is the access point. We cannot enter into the presence of a holy God as sinful people. Access must be provided through the Son. That’s why we pray in Jesus’ name. The Bible tells us in Hebrews 10: 19–22 that we have access by the blood of Christ. “Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.” His death satisfied the demands of a holy God. Hebrews 4:16 says “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” We can walk right up to His throne. Confidently, we can say, “Here I am, Lord. Jesus Christ let me in.” Prayer should be a regular part of our lives because it is so critical to us.
Pray Sincerely: If you pray for the applause of people, you lose the applause of heaven. If you pray to be heard by people and not to communicate with God, you are not communicating with God.
“When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get.” (Matthew 6:5)
Pray Secretly: The third precaution that Jesus gives us concerning prayer is that we must pray secretly.
Your true faith shines through when you are alone. If you spend more time trying to impress other people than you spend communicating with God in your private prayers, then your spiritual priorities are out of line. Jesus tells us to pray in secret, but He doesn’t mean we should never pray in public. Jesus prayed publicly as well. He was not condemning public prayer, but He was saying that if a man prays publicly, he should also have a private prayer life.
When Jesus commands us to pray in secret, He means that we should shut out anything and everything that could distract us from spending time with the Lord. He tells us to physically shut the door, because we are so easily distracted. God is spirit, and He doesn’t often use an audible voice to communicate with His followers, so it is hard for us to truly speak and listen in faith. We must remove those distractions so God can connect with us through the Holy Spirit.
Pray Thoughtfully: Also, when we pray, Jesus says we are to pray thoughtfully.
“When you pray, don’t babble on and on as the Gentiles do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again.” (Matthew 6:7) So how do we break the pattern of meaningless repetition? We must increase our knowledge of the subject (God) and bring that information to influence our prayer lives. The more we know about somebody, the more we have to talk about with that person. When you learn something of God through the Scriptures or at church, allow it to influence your prayer.
Pray Specifically: Asking demands humility because it means you must go to Him and request something.
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:7-11)
Fish and bread, as Jesus mentioned in these verses, were the ordinary daily diet of the Jewish person. God is concerned about the “fish” and “bread” of our daily lives— the common occurrences in our days, the feelings of our hearts, and the details of our thoughts. He doesn’t just want to hear from us when we have huge problems. He wants to hear all of our concerns and praises, big and small. If you only relate to God in the large issues of life, you make Him a 911 emergency problem solver, and you will only occasionally relate to Him. But if you communicate with Him in the “fish” and “bread” moments of your life, you will follow the instruction of 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to “pray continually.”
In fact, when the verse talks about someone asking for a fish or a loaf, those are both items that are legitimate daily needs. The fish and the loaf of bread indicate things that we should be expecting God to provide. God is concerned with your needs. Bring Him your ordinary requests but also trust that He can do more than you could ever expect. He is a God of both the ordinary and the extraordinary. Praise Him when you have food on the table. Praise Him when He opens the Red Sea. Praise Him when you have clothes on your back. Praise Him when He brings water out of the stone and manna from on high. Praise Him when you have gas in your tank. Praise Him because He provides for your basic needs. Praise Him for the “fish” and the “bread.” Praise Him for the ordinary. And guess what! He’ll be there for the extraordinary.
Prayer is a multifaceted communication channel with God. When you combine it with the principles from the parable of the widow and the unjust judge— going to God based on His Word and your legal rights through the new covenant— it can also be a powerful tool used to help you live out the fullness of your destiny.
- NIV Study Bible
- Kingdom Woman: Embracing Your Purpose, Power, and Possibilities (Tony Evans and Chrystal Evans Hurst)