Last Sunday I once again found myself shaking my head and saying, “Only God!”
As I listened to Dr. Jerry Kirk, author and founder of The Prayer Covenant share his heart for prayer during our Sunday morning community group time, I realized I was witnessing a God-orchestrated follow-up to last week’s post on prayer.
So, how do we learn to pray?
We LEARN to PRAY by:
We learn to pray by praying not by talking about praying.
Prayer is simply talking to God. It’s a conversation with the God of the universe.
Incredibly, God wants us to talk to Him, and He has promised to hear us when we pray.
The power of prayer lies not with us but in God. So it stands to reason that prayer is not about mechanics but about the One we are praying to. In James 5:17, we are told that Elijah had a “nature like ours.” We are also told that God heard and answered his prayers. We are not unlike Elijah. The power of prayer was not in Elijah. It is not in us. It is in our great God. So, pray in your “ordinary-ness!”
Knowing HIS Love
People who pray most feel loved by God. They enjoy, even crave, His presence, and one way they spend time with Him is in prayer.
Experiencing the love of God is the work of the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who fills us with inexpressible joy in response to our perception of God’s love demonstrated toward us.
Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him,
you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory.
1 Peter 1:8
Learning to Love God
And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. Mark 12:30
Loving God is an act of heart, soul, mind, and strength. Therefore, our love for Him is a willful decision rooted in knowledge and experienced emotionally.
Learn to love God:
- by spending time in His Word. (Psalm 1:1-2; Psalm 19; Psalm 119:14, 16, 24, 35, 47, 70, 77, 92, 97, 103, 127, 143, 174; 2 Timothy 3:14-15; 1 Peter 2:2)
- by spending time in worship of Him. (Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, O my soul! 2 I will praise the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being. Psalm 146:1-2) How many times a day do you enter into worship? For how long? How deeply do you go into His presence?
- by consciously and deliberately thinking on His love for you. How many times a day do you think about how much the Lord God loves you? How many times a week? A month? Use “triggers” to help you develop the habit of thinking on God’s love for you. Specifically, triggers can be visual promptings (birds, creeks, trees, fluffy clouds in the sky, etc.), verses of Scripture, songs, or anything that reminds you to stop and think on His love for you.
[S]o that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love. Ephesians 3:17
Learning to Love Others
A clear reason for loving others is given by the apostle Paul in the book of 1 Corinthians: “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love. 14 Pursue love” (1 Cor. 13:13–14:1a).
When we love God and others, we follow the example of Jesus. His example will lead us to live out a 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 kind of love. When we love others in that manner, their concerns will be our concerns and their praises, our praises. We will find ourselves turning more and more to God on their behalf.
Learning to Love Ourselves (out of God’s love for us)
Whoever gets sense loves his own soul; he who keeps understanding will discover good. Proverbs 19:8
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Psalm 139:13-15
See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 1 John 3:1
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10
Deciding to Make it a Priority
We can pray anytime and anywhere (John 4:20, John 4:21-23, Ephesians 6:18). No longer must we pray in a particular place. We pray in the Spirit.
However, this freedom often leads to not praying at all. Spontaneous prayers are one way to communicate with our Heavenly Father, and they are absolutely good. There are many things going on in our lives, though, and we are under attack constantly. Spontaneity alone is not enough. Prayer is a glorious gift from God and our weapon in battle. In addition to our spontaneous prayers, we need a consistent time and place for deliberate prayer.
Depending on the Holy Spirit
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. Romans 8:26-27
Following Jesus Together Closely with a Few
And as soon as the boy had gone, David rose from beside the stone heap and fell on his face to the ground and bowed three times. And they kissed one another and wept with one another, David weeping the most. 1 Samuel 20:41
Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the sea. Mark 3:7a
David and Jonathan had a soul-deep friendship. Jesus surrounded Himself with various circles of friendship. Likewise, it is essential that we live in close relationship with a few. It is these deep friendships that provide a safe place for encouragement in prayer and for mutual accountability.
Engaging in Mutual Accountability
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10:23-25
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. James 5:16
With your soul friend or close inner circle, pray. Pray together face-to-face and schedule regular “check-ups.” Then, go one step further by giving those trusted souls permission to hold you accountable in your prayer life.
Believing God’s Promises
If we are honest with ourselves, we really don’t believe God’s promises when it comes to our prayers. Our prayer life lacks courage and imagination. We assume God is too busy or too big to care about the small details of our lives. And we surely can’t imagine Him actually conquering the huge crises in the world.
Where is our courage? Our imagination? Our faith? We say we believe it, but do our prayers demonstrate that we truly believe what we say we truly believe?
Jesus did not pray uncourageous, unimaginative prayers. No, the prayers of Jesus were from the heart, empathetic, and full of love for His Father (John 17).
What would happen if you prayed like you KNOW God will answer you?