God has spoken to me to make this a year of prayer. I have made several lifestyle changes to facilitate a more intense prayer life and in the process God has been showing me some things about prayer that I want to share with you. It seems to me that we have gone as far as we can go. In order to move any farther forward someone must pray. We need the anointing, we need the fresh rain of the Spirit, we need the manifestations of the Holy Ghost.
It’s time for the people of God to take their place in prayer. E. M. Bounds, a great promoter of prayer wrote, “You can do more than pray after you pray, but you cannot do more than pray until you’ve prayed.” It seems we’ve tried to do more than pray before we’ve prayed.
There are many opportunities to do things for God. But without prayer, how effective are we? What kind of fruit remains? Our projects and visions should be born during times of fellowship with God. Preaching and teaching alone will not get the job done without prayer. All of our forefathers who left written records of their success with God agree that prayer is essential. I don’t believe we can make the kind of impact on this generation that we desire without it.
I believe we’ve gotten so busy we’ve forgotten to pray. Prayerlessness could be the biggest problem in the church today, leading to all kinds of symptoms. So many problems that plague folks today could be solved by spending time with God. He’s the expert in every field.
When I speak of prayer, I am not talking about a heavy hearted, burdened soul with a sad countenance. Prayer is simply spending time with God. That should never be a burden, it is a privilege. Who wouldn’t want to spend time with the smartest, most powerful personality in the world, who loves and cares for us affectionately? Psalms 16:11 says:
In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
In His presence is all that we want. There is a sweet satisfaction that comes from spending time with Him. As you leave your time with Him, a calm assurance that you are ready to face the world goes with you.
Jeremiah 33:3 states:
Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.
There are some things we need to know right now and God wants to tell us. He will not do it while we’re on the run. He won’t chase us down and give us the information we need to be more successful. We must take the time to stop and call unto Him.
I want to talk about a few things that I consider to be hindrances to prayer. As we deal with these issues and remove them, my prayer for you is that you’ll have more freedom to pray than ever!
First of all be careful not to over organize your prayer time because it could quickly turn into works or a religious routine. It is possible to organize the life out of our time with God until we are just going down a list or following an outline. You don’t spend one hour with your husband or wife and go down some written outline until you’ve covered the last point then pack up and leave until the next day. There is no life in that.
Prayer is spending time with God, learning to wait on Him, getting to know Him. In the process wisdom comes, direction comes. Things will come to you in prayer that need to be mentioned and dealt with. Prayer releases God to manifest His will in the earth. It is our means of enforcing His will. It is cooperating with God, getting to know God, developing a friendship with God.
It should be real and rich; it shouldn’t be the same everyday. You can walk and pray, sit and pray, kneel and pray. We are not praying to earn some kind of spiritual merit badge or to brag about how long we pray everyday. It shouldn’t be limited to a certain amount of time or a formula.
Another hindrance to prayer is a lack of motivation. If you are a goal oriented person, you’ll have to adjust your thinking when it comes to prayer. It can’t be measured like other activities.
It’s easy to measure work by how many hours we put in or how much money we make. Ministry can be measured by how many people are in a church or how long it’s been in existence. I can measure how many miles I travel in a year or how many sermons I’ve preached. These things give us a sense of accomplishment that serves to motivate us to do more.
Prayer is not like natural work. No one knows whether you prayed today or not, and they probably don’t care. You get no credit for praying, you don’t get paid and you don’t get to brag about it. Because it doesn’t measure up in natural terms it’s easy to lose the motivation and not see the value in getting up earlier and spending time with God.
The truth is, spending time with God makes the other things we do more successful. Prepare yourself not to be motivated by natural things and let your spirit lead you to the place of prayer regularly!
“I just don’t have time to pray”. This is a big reason folks don’t spend time with God. This can be a real hindrance until you see that prayer saves time. How many mistakes would we have avoided if we had spent time in prayer first? How much time have we spent correcting those mistakes? Wouldn’t it have taken less time just to pray? How much money has been lost on wrong decisions that would not have been made if we had spent a little more time in prayer? How much time will it take to work and make back the money we’ve lost because of poor decisions?
Prayer saves time. When you leave the place of prayer it’s as if God has orchestrated your day. You’re ready for the expected and the unexpected. His Spirit directs your steps and the issues of the day have already been prayed out ahead of time. You get more done and what you do is more fruitful, things are accomplished.
Another hindrance that we all have to deal with is a hurried lifestyle. It’s not healthy to carry that into the prayer closet. A hurried, busy mind does not lend itself to prayer. Our society is too fast-paced and it’s not healthy, spiritually or physically. We must slow down on the inside for a consistent, effective prayer life.
In generations past things were different. People walked to town and walked to work. There’s nothing like a 3 mile walk to slow a person down. They cut their own firewood and washed clothes by hand. They grew their own food in gardens and raised animals for meat and eggs and milk. For thousands of years people lived at a slower pace by necessity. Spiritually speaking, that is helpful.
I’m not saying we should go back to that way of life. I am thankful for modern conveniences, but we need to understand the hindrances we’re facing in the modern age. Today, we don’t walk to work, we drive to work at sixty miles an hour with the radio on while talking on the cell phone. When we’re not in the car we can stay wired with our iPods. We come home from a busy day at work and turn on the T.V. until we fall asleep.
It’s possible to live from the time we get up until the time we go to bed under the influence of a constant stream of noise. This is not conducive to prayer. No wonder people don’t want to pray, they don’t even want to be quiet. Some people are afraid of silence! Psalms 4:4 says, Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still.
We must take time to be quiet and wait on God. Waiting is an unpopular term in modern thought. We’re so busy, we don’t want to wait for anything. There are some things worth waiting for and God is one of those things. You will be amazed at what will happen if you’ll take time to wait on God. You don’t need an agenda, just go in and wait before Him, ask Him what He wants to say and give Him a chance to answer. If we rush through our prayer time like we rush through the rest of life it’s not going to be what it should be.
Time after time the scriptures tell us to wait on God.
Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; On You I wait all the day.
Wait on the LORD; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the LORD!
Wait on the LORD, And keep His way, And He shall exalt you to inherit the land; When the wicked are cut off, you shall see it.
Isaiah 40:31 is a great promise for people that have a lot to do. It says:
But those who wait on the LORD Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.
God is not opposed to our getting a lot done or “running”, but He encourages us to wait first. Then you can run and not grow weary (burn out).
Join with me in making 2007 a year of prayer. Make lifestyle changes if necessary and spend extra time this year with God. If we’ll do that, I believe it will be the best year ever. Let’s pray!