Summary: Becoming a Person of Prayer Getting Started
Becoming a Person of Prayer
November 14, 2010
I am spending several weeks on prayer because part of our vision is to train us to be followers of Christ. The quality of our devotional life to a great extent determines the quality of our spiritual lives. That may be scary for some of us because we have no vital devotional life. What I mean by a devotional life is our spending time listening to God by reading his word and then responding to God in prayer. So for the next several weeks I want to give you a strategy and a tool to increase the effectiveness of your prayer life. This is not the only strategy or tool but if you do not use this one you do need to find another tool. If you have no strategy for your prayer life you will fail to pray effectively. Maybe your prayer life runs in spurts and runs out of steam regularly and end up praying very little or not at all, which is sin (1 Sam 12:23). This strategy will help. It will give you the topics God wants you to focus on in your prayer life. There are times for prayer to be free and formless but that is not sustainable as a pattern for cultivating an effective prayer life. What sustains prayer in the long run is a foundation of structured prayer. We are looking to the Lords prayer to get our strategy. The Lords prayer was given to the disciples as a pattern that gives themes for their prayer life. These themes show us what topics are to be a regular part of our prayer lives. There are three themes that focus on God and his agenda in the world and three themes that focus on our personal needs.
First let me challenge you to start with a plan. When Jesus said to disciples ‘when you pray go into your room and shut the door and pray.’ He is saying to be intentional, take the necessary steps to ensure that you engage in this kind of praying. Are you being intentional in your prayer life? Do you have a plan for your prayer life? What do you want your prayer life to look like? If you cannot answer those questions you probably don’t have an effective prayer life. Once you have a plan, find a place. Jesus said, ‘go into your room and shut the door.’ Why does he insist on closing the door? Because your place of prayer should be a quite and isolated place where you can get focused and have an uninterrupted time to talk with God. After you have a plan and a place, set a time. I will not be dogmatic about this but Jesus’ pattern was to get up early to pray before everyone else was up and before life got busy. Jesus also rose early from the grave so he could pray. Jonathan Edwards said Jesus rose from the grave early as model for us to rise early to pray. I think it is important to get the day started with prayer because prayer is one way we tap into the realities of the kingdom and get his perspective on life, his power for life, and his perspective on our day. Then make yourself a cup of coffee or tea. These are God’s gifts of grace to wake you up and alert.
Before you begin to pray start out by reading and mediating on Scripture. Ask questions about the text and ask God to speak to you about what you are reading. Ask yourself three questions – what is author saying? What does it mean to me? And how does it apply in my life? Scripture is kindling to the embers of your heart. As you read Scripture it stokes hearts’ fire for God, enlivening the heart and prepares you for prayer. God speaks to us through the Scriptures. It is like a warm up to help you get spiritually prepared to pray. If you are not reading your bible and have no plan then start by reading the gospel of John, reading one chapter a day (through the bible in a year).
Then position yourself as His children who have the right and the privilege to come to him. By Jesus saying ‘Our Father’ he tells us that God is not only Jesus’ Father but also ours. Prayer is where we meet with God our Father. The very ability to call out Father and mean it is because God the Father has adopted us. We are his children. The Lofty One who created everything, who is set apart from us as holy and cannot tolerate our sin yet because of Christ death on the cross and the forgiveness we received we are adopted as sons and daughters. He can now smile upon us and he does so; He delights to listen to our prayers. You are never a bother to Him, He is never too busy for you.