With the current devastating events that occurred in Paris this past week, nearly everyone on social media shared hashtags to #Pray4Paris. I wondered how do I even begin to pray, where do I even start, as my heart was so broken at the loss of so many innocent people, as well as the heartache of my Parisian friends because of this malevolent tragedy. Immediately the movie ‘War Room’ came to mind. I remembered the movie to be an excellent pictorial that speaks to the strength and power of prayer. After viewing it, I was greatly encouraged by it. It taught me how to pray and reminded me to keep pressing in with faith no matter what the circumstances look like!
There were scenes I clearly identified with in the movie that reminded me when I too first started getting serious with God: when the protagonist went into the prayer closet to pray and found herself either falling asleep, eating or becoming distracted. Guilty!
How should you pray?
As a novice Christian there would be times I prepared myself to pray, sat in a room and my mind started wandering, I got bored easily, and lastly, I felt like I did not know how to even start praying. This made me wonder how many others are going through this dilemma today.
When most people think about prayer, they may think about a scheduled time to talk to God, praying within the confines of their home, a house prayer meeting or prayer night at their local church.
In hindsight I too thought I needed to make time for God on a specific day, at a specific hour or pretty much only when I was going through something.
I would hear pastors, family and friends retort, “pray about it!” when trying times came. I Never quite fully grasped if I were praying correctly, was unsure if my prayers would be answered or was uncertain of how long to pray.
After many years of being a Christian I’ve learned a lot, have grown exponentially, and have learned how to perfect my prayer life.
We may think we know how to pray, but are we really utilizing (exploring ) the full magnitude of prayer? Which also includes waiting to hear from God.
Let’s examine the full gamut of a powerful prayer life. Firstly, prayer doesn’t just involve you talking to God and waiting aimlessly for an answer from Him or just waiting for a problem to be solved, but prayer is reciprocal. It’s giving and receiving; giving time to God whilst receiving and doggedly believing His promises found in His word. Receiving, in faith and hope, His leading, direction, and guidance. I have created the following list of what a well-rounded prayer life looks like:
1. Praying doctrinal prayers
That means praying God’s word (the bible) back to Him. Memorizing scripture and reciting aloud the promises God tells us in His word. Doctrinal prayers tells God that you believe His word and are standing firm on it until what you are praying for comes to pass. Moreover, it syncopates in the spirit realm that you know what the word of God says and you have hidden it in your heart. It is your spiritual sword. When the devil attacks you, you pull out your weapon and immediately go to war, as opposed to having to look for a verse while the devil is gaining precious ground. That’s why it is of utmost importance to memorize scripture. In these days and times you never know if you may find yourself in a precarious situation with no access to a Bible.
2. Pray wherever you are, at any time of the day
You don’t have to wait until you get home or set aside a time to pray, or wait a week to pray with your church! No! Seize the hour! Feeling overwhelmed at work? Step into the bathroom and pray! Faced with anxiety or stress on the job? Pray at your desk, take a minute to pray. Instead of taking a lunch break with coworkers which oftentimes entails being an ear to gossip, separate yourself and pray for that hour! Stuck in traffic? It’s a perfect time to pray! Maybe if more people took the time to pray in their cars we’d have less road rage. Treated rudely by a store clerk? Discipline yourself to pray before you react! I love the verse. “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). The Father is telling us, be indwelled with my love, peace, security; He’s telling us to shut out worldly chatter and reach in to Him; anytime and in whatever situation we are going through. He’s available around the clock. Amen! No matter how small or how big your need is.
3. Don’t pray in unbelief
As a neophyte, whenever I endured a painful situation I would shut down. I was so weak, distraught, knocked down, I could hardly utter a word out of my mouth. Slowly, I got to where I could pray for 5,10 minutes then eventually as I kept going, I was able to pray a little bit more. I had gone through so many bad things in my life, when I could pray, I prayed out of desperation. Quite frankly, not even believing what I was praying for and demanding God–while feeling helpless–to do this, or to do that. Telling Him He owed me for such a difficult life! Wow! Most sadly, I was praying in anger and unforgiveness. Beloved, we have to release these things and come before God with a pure heart. We have to wait on God’s timing, trust that the situation will work out in the best interest for us, and not judge by what we see. Lastly, forgive anyone who has offended you. Only then can you be assured your prayers are reaching the throne room! Amen!
4. Pray in faith
The Bible says faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things unseen, Hebrews 11:6. It takes a lot of courage to hope for something when you are in the middle of a terrible situation and can’t possibly see a way out that will end good. But the good news is–you ready?–you need to go through some bad things in order to perfect your faith and to stretch your faith. It is not something that can be taught; but practiced. The more things you go through, the more you begin to see how God delivers you out of them all! It is building your warfare muscles! So each forthcoming obstacle becomes a little easier to believe God for deliverance. You won’t be as frightened as you used to be when problems arise. You won’t worry and fear as much as you used to. But, it will definitely be a challenge! That’s why it’s of utmost importance to replace your words with God’s words, replace your thoughts with His thoughts. This will greatly encourage your faith.
5. Command your future
The Bible says that death and life are in the power of the tongue (Proverbs 18:21).When the devil attacks our mind with fear, worry and lies, we have to learn not to accept it as truth. No, we have to refute the enemies’ lies. We have to speak back to the devil and reiterate to him what God’s word says is true, not the contrary! Moreover, we have to prophesy over our own future! We have to learn to speak into existence the things that we want to happen in our lives and pray for God’s will regarding it! As opposed to speaking negatively, degrading ourselves or our family members or children; no matter how bad we think they are, we must prophesy over their lives with positive words. When you use epithets towards and talk down to your children, spouse or family member when they do something wrong, you are speaking a curse over them that will eventually manifest! Learn to speak life over every situation in your life!
6. Command joy, peace and love
One day after I finished praying, a gloominess came over me. I couldn’t shake the feeling and was really bothered that I had just prayed and felt as if a cloud were hanging over my head. So I started asking God what’s going on, I just prayed why am I feeling like this? So out of frustration I just started speaking over my life and commanding whatever that feeling was to leave! On my way out of the house I kept demanding the feeling to go, singing in the spirit and calling forth joy, peace and tranquillity to surround me! I thought, how many times are we attacked mentally and accept this feeling as we go about our day and tell others, “I’m in a bad mood,” or I’m not feeling my best,” when asked. No! Command your happiness! Don’t let the devil oppress you when you have a Loving Father who has already defeated satan and has passed on to you his inheritance of abundant joy and happiness! His inheritance of victory, power, and the ability to conquer any enemy that attacks you. I’ve learned that when I’m feeling sad or downtrodden, not to settle for that feeling, but change my spiritual atmosphere by simply confessing life out of my mouth! I then saw how God changed my prayer language from desperation to prophesying over my life!
7. Encourage yourself
I hate to say it, but the road on this Christian journey can be very lonely at times. You’re not always gonna have people who are happy for you, happy for your success, cheering you on and excited about your progress. More, there will be times when you need encouragement and no one will be there! Sometimes people will be just busy with their own life. Other times God will use this isolation to teach you to depend totally on Him. Moreover, We have to learn how to stop depending on people when we need to be encouraged, but depend on God to uplift your mood. He will always be there when no one else is.
8. Create and compile a prayer list/vision board
A prayer list entails writing down a list of people to pray for or things that you would like to happen or come to pass in your life, then praying over it daily. Whether it’s people in your inner circle or people you feel led to pray for or pressing situations in your life that you really need to hear from God. Likewise, a vision board goes one step further. The term vision board has become very popular as of late. It is simply creating a visual board of reference, kind of like a powerpoint presentation at an office meeting. It is a visual compilation of words, pictures, and ideas. People cut out quotes, affirmative statements, or pictures out of magazines, news papers etc. and paste it onto a board. It is their visual story board that chronicles their future dreams and goals.
It is of utmost importance to fast in desperate times of need; times when you need an answer, a breakthrough, healing or direction. I have found that when I had a pressing situation or needed direction on which way to go, when I fasted God always gave me the answer via a dream, sermon, person or made it clearly stand out to me in the Bible!
When I take notice of my prayer language, it often sounds like this: God please! God I need! God won’t you! God could you! God, help me! It’s I, I, I, I, I ! It’s like children, not fully grasping the concept of hard work and appreciation, but always asking their parents to buy them things.
One day when I went to pray yet again for that problem, I just felt so guilty of this behavior that I just started worshipping God. Even though my heart was heavy, I had just started thanking Him for what He had already done for me. I think that’s why God doesn’t sometimes immediately answer prayer, oh how forgetful we are and take his blessings for granted. Sometimes as humans we take, take, take. To have a balanced, healthy relationship, it involves giving, thanking and appreciation. We have to begin to thank God for His many blessings and deliverance in our lives. We have to thank Him for our health, strength and mobility, among many other ways He’s blessing us. We have to tell God that we appreciate Him and what He has done and is doing in our lives. Thank Him for being a true and living God whom we have the benefit of being able to talk to on a daily basis! Thank Him for being our friend!
Beloved, to fully grasp this type of prayer life, it may take many years. I’m still trying to discipline myself in some of these areas.