2022 Discipleship Series: Growing Deeper in Prayer
How do you pray? How often do you pray? Who do you pray with? Are you comfortable praying out loud? Do you know what the Bible says about prayer? Do you know what Jesus taught about prayer? How would you explain prayer to an unbeliever or someone who doesn't know Jesus yet but is seeking?
The answers to these questions will reveal a lot about your walk with the Lord. As worship leader at my church, I often pray as part of our time of worship, and people sometimes tell me that they love to hear me pray. I thank them, of course, but let them know that my prayer life has grown over the years. I used to be too intimidated to pray in public, worried about what others would think of me. I remember how scary it was to risk joining in at prayer meetings by actually voicing a prayer during my college years when I first gave my life to Jesus.
I've heard many teachings on prayer over the years and many patterns that people use to pray. There is nothing wrong with that, but that is not how I am wired. Jesus' instructions to the disciples about prayer can be found in Matthew 6:5-14. This is a great place to start your study on what the Bible has to say about prayer. Allow Jesus to teach you about prayer through a study of this passage. Notice that it says in verse 9, "This then is how you should pray..." It doesn't say what you should pray, but how. There is nothing wrong with praying this prayer, but Jesus gave this as a model of how to pray, not simply a repeat after me kind of prayer. I do, however, find myself these days praying quite frequently "Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven."
Besides Jesus' teaching on prayer, we can learn quite a bit about prayer by looking at Jesus' example. How did Jesus pray? We would do well to follow His example. If Jesus needed time alone to talk with the Father, how much more do we? If Jesus set aside times of fasting and prayer, how much more should we? If Jesus prayed for His co-workers so should we. If we observe prayer in the life of Jesus, we'll find all kinds of prayer in all kinds of situations. He gave thanks to the Father whenever He broke bread with people. Sometimes he went away to a quiet place to pray. Sometimes He prayed out loud for the benefit of His hearers. (John 11:42) (John 17)
We can learn a lot about prayer from the teachings and modeling of Jesus. We can also learn a lot about prayer from the writings of Paul and other writers of the New Testament. As I have grown in prayer, I have learned the power of praying the Word of God. Why is that important? When you pray the Word of God, you know that you are in agreement with the Lord, and anytime you ask Him for what He is longing to give you, you can be assured of answered prayer! There are many prayers in Scripture that I pray for myself and others. I'll include a few to get you started as well as an article below that explains this process more in-depth. Colossians 1:9-14; Ephesians 1:15-21; Philippians 1:9-11.
My favorite lessons on how to pray have come from the Psalms. During some of my darkest days, I found comfort in the Psalms, but I also learned to pray like David who often cried out to God with passion and pain. He was always honest with God in prayer about what he was going through, but he always came to the place in prayer where he reminded himself and the Lord of what he knew to be true of Him. He made strong declarations of faith in the One He knew so well. Some examples are found in Psalm 16, Psalm 23, Psalm 42, Psalm 51, Psalm 68, and Psalm 91.
I have learned there is power in the spoken Word of God. Faith takes the Word of the Lord and speaks it out loud back to Him. This may seem silly to you because God does know your thoughts, so why would you need to speak them out loud? I believe it is more for us than for God. He already knows everything, including what we need in prayer. Prayer brings a deeper relationship with the Most High. This is how we have conversations with the Lord. When we speak the Word out loud and in prayer, we declare it to be true even to our own mind and soul. When I was struggling with fear, I made declarations from the Word in prayer about faith and trust, and as I did so, I began to believe them more and more. I also believe that there is power in the spoken Word. Praying the Word means standing in agreement with the Lord, and there is no greater place to stand.
In this season when there is so much uncertainty and unrest around us, the Holy Spirit has challenged me with Ephesians 6:18 and 1 Thessalonians 5:17. The surrounding verses are also good, but I am learning what it means to pray in the Spirit and to pray without ceasing, and it is transforming my life! I believe it is possible to pray without ceasing only with the help of the Holy Spirit. He is the very breath of God within us. When we invite Him to help us pray, He does. Then no matter what I am doing, my spirit in agreement with the Holy Spirit can be praying as He gives utterance. That means He not only tells me what to pray, but He prays through me. Because He knows the will of the Father, my prayers will come into agreement with the will of God as I allow the Holy Spirit to empower my prayers. So prayer becomes an all-day conversation with the Father as I am surrendered to Him.
The lines to this old hymn come to mind, "And He walks with me and He talks with me..." Dear sisters, this is the key to a growing prayer life -- walking and talking with Jesus. You would not enjoy a one-sided conversation for very long, so remember to listen to the Lord as well as talk to Him. That is communion! The more you talk to the Lord in prayer, the deeper your relationship with Him will grow. This is how transformation happens.
Want to grow in prayer? Learn from the Master. Learn from the early disciples. Learn from the Word. Yes. Yes, and Yes! But most of all refuse to believe the lie that you don't have time to pray. You don't have time to not pray!!! Simply ask the Holy Spirit to help you pray. Ask Him to pray with you and for you. And then, simply talk to the Lord throughout your day more and more. He is waiting to talk with you! He is longing for a deeper relationship with you, and you will be blessed beyond measure if you pursue a deeper relationship with the Lord in prayer. Ladies, this is a truth for all of us. All of us can (and should) be growing in prayer. All of us can draw nearer to the Lord. I pray you will. May the Spirit of God tune your ear to His Voice alone.
A few links to guide your study on prayer:
What Are Some of the Most Powerful Prayers in the Bible?
HOW TO GROW YOUR PRAYER LIFE: Lifeway Women
Living Boldly for Christ,