Be kinder to yourself.
And then let your kindness flood the world.
And then let your kindness flood the world.
Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!
Psalm 116:2 NLT
When do you pray?
Every morning as soon as you wake up?
When travelling on a plane, or going on an interview for a new position?
What do your prayers generally consist of? Are they filled with thanksgiving, or prayer requests?
How many times have you told someone, “I’m praying for you” or “You have my prayers” and not actually pray for or with that person?
Before I get into my personal conviction and how the Holy Spirit spoke to me regarding my own prayer life, I posed these questions for you to think about how you pray. It’s my prayer that this testimony will challenge you to re-evaluate your own prayer life, and begin or continue using prayer as a weapon against our enemy (Satan) and as a tool for ministry.
A few weeks ago I was praying for something… “God please… I know I’ve been asking for a lot lately, but please God...”
Before I could even finish the prayer these questions entered my mind: When was the last time you prayed for someone else? For your city or country? For some of the issues plaguing the global society?
I could barely finish my prayer after that. I felt totally self-centered as I began to try to answer those questions. I realized that for a while I had stopped praying, and I began to just ask God for what I needed each day. Although making my requests known to God is a part of praying, for a while I was missing the true essence of prayer. My personal prayer time had also become routinized, and lacked true communication with my Creator and with my Savior Jesus Christ. My prayers were also lacking in power. If I felt the burden to pray, I would call up one of my prayer partners because I felt that when they prayed it was more powerful, and therefore guaranteed to yield the desired outcomes.
The answers to the next few questions are based on my own reflection of my prayer life, and may only apply to you in part, or maybe not at all, but please consider them. Also, keep in mind that in everything we should self-reflect from time to time and realize that sanctification is a lifelong process.
How do we fall into the routine of prayer?
Whether you were taught to pray as a child, or you started praying from attending church, you were at some point trained to pray at specific instances. Do this enough times and it becomes a routine. Nothing wrong with this in and of itself, but this alone limits the power and potential in prayer.
How do we fall into the habit of self-centered prayers?
Prayers that habitually focus on self--even those that ask to increase faith or patience--can turn prayer into a means to an end, and that end is usually us in a better position, more blessed, or just a better version of ourselves. Nothing wrong with self-improvement. But there is something wrong with prayers whose intentions primarily focus on self gratification and not glory to God. When I was praying that day that I felt the conviction, I wasn’t thinking about how God answering my prayer and doing what I asked would bring him glory. I was thinking about what I wanted so that I could be happy and comfortable. Yes, God cares about my happiness and comfort, but he cares more about a relationship with me. He wants to hear from me as my father, my deliverer, and my friend.
How do we get into the habit of praying regularly for others/issues?
So maybe you’re like me, and you found yourself only praying those routine prayers and asking God for things for your own satisfaction--but, like me, you didn’t mean to. We didn’t plan to or realize that our communication was lacking conversation. How do we fix that?
Recently, I was having a conversation with a friend about some of the issues we were noticing within the church. The conversation started out with us sharing our experiences and kind of just venting our frustrations. Then we got to encouraging one another to stay strong in the faith and in our convictions. Eventually the Holy Spirit stepped in and reminded me of those questions that entered my mind and interrupted my selfish prayers a few weeks ago. When was the last time you prayed for someone else? For your church?
I started to connect the dots and recognize that prayer is not only essential to our relationship with God and Jesus Christ, but it is also a weapon and a tool. By the end of the conversation we had identified some areas of opportunity for prayer for the issues we discussed in the church. Then we applied that principle to other areas of our lives. For instance, if you were in a relationship and it didn’t work out because your partner was extremely prideful--there’s an opportunity to pray for that person instead of focusing on your own feelings. Our enemy would like it if we only complained about the issues in our society, and if we just got together to gossip about our brothers and sisters. But if we judge righteously, we can use prayer as a weapon against the plans of our enemy. In addition, if we focus our attention outside of our feelings and allow God to use us to intercede on someone else’s behalf then prayer becomes a tool for ministry and service.
These types of prayer don’t always come second nature though, and even if we have been using prayer as a weapon and a tool, it’s still possible for us to fall into a routine and become self-centered. Some practical things that we can do to avoid that pitfall include: making a prayer list of people and issues to pray for during quiet time with the Lord; praying using the acronym P.R.A.I.S.E.; and of course asking God to help us develop in our prayers. God knows our weaknesses, and he wants to help.
And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.
Romans 8:26 NLT
Thank for desiring a relationship with me! Thank you for bending down to hear my prayers! Forgive me for the times that our communication wasn’t a conversation, and for the times I made it only about me. Help me through your Holy Spirit, to use the power that is in prayer to fight against the principalities of this world, and to intercede for my brothers and sisters. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
P.R.A.I.S.E (Taken from Whispers of Hope 10 Week Devotional Prayer by Beth Moore)
P--Sincerely PRAISE and worship God for who he is.
R--REPENT and confess your sins to God.
A--ACKNOWLEDGE and submit to God’s authority.
I--INTERCEDE for others in need of prayer.
S--SUPPLICATION for SELF. Make your requests to God.
E--EQUIP yourself. Ask God to give you the tools to serve and have a victorious day.
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