Have you prayed today?
In a world that draws us into it's hurried pace, times of prayer help us to maintain a sense of equanimity and bearing. Prayer is an echo of ones heart to an understanding of God. This implies a true and an earnest seeking of God. When we seek Him with all our hearts, we are assured that we will find Him. The experiences of saints in the scripture are aplenty that God can be experienced. For instance, read the Psalms of David. As we seek Him and wait upon Him, we are bound to hear Him. In return, we echo our hearts response. This is prayer.
Therefore, these steps:
1. Seek Him earnestly
2. Wait upon Him
3. Hear Him
4. Echo from the heart.
This can happen while you sit quietly in a contemplative attitude or when you are engaged in your daily routine. People have taken various postures in prayer from simple sitting to standing, kneeling to prostrating, walking to dancing various convenient expressions of attitude towards the object of prayer, have enabled people to pray. To dissociate prayer times from other activities can become a barrier in integrating spiritual disciplines into our normal lifestyle. While there needs to be times of retreat from activity given exclusively to prayer, fasting, celebration and worship, these indeed ought to be integrated to life itself.
Prayer is an expression of a relationship with God. It indicates an intimacy, a communion, a level of understanding of God experientially. It also is an outflow and an overflow of this relationship. So the one who prays will:
1. Endeavor to cultivate this relationship
Intensive cultivation brings extensive harvest. Relationships will be put to a test. God tested Abraham with a difficult test. When Abraham prayed, God remembered that Abraham had not withheld his very son from Him. God could not say no to him. God could not even hide His acts from Abraham.
2. Take steps to remove all barriers that hinder such an intimacy
God is holy. Without holiness one cannot approach God. Sin, self and preconceived notions hinder intimacy with God. Faith comes by the hearing of the word of God. Reading, studying and mediating on the word will reveal God's nature and fill faith in our heart. An open heart and an open mind are prerequisites to any growing relationship.
The benefits of Jesus' relationship with the Father accrue to us. Jesus and His name are privileges of entry into His Presence. When we come in Jesus' Name, we are accepted in the courts of God with all the privileges accorded to the Son of God. Of course, when we pray in His name, we also pray according to His nature and concerns. To be filled with the Spirit and pray in the spirit is an unparalleled privilege. That the spirit of man can be a tool for the Holy Spirit to translate our true concerns is both a privilege and an immense opportunity.
The Lord Jesus prayed in solitude as well as with people. He went to a mountain to pray. He also prayed in the homes of people, at the grave of Lazarus, and in the garden of Gethsemane. He lived in intimate union and communion with the Father. His very being was in prayer without ceasing. His times with the father seemed central to all His activities. It was also a centering aspect of life to Him bringing in a God-focus to all He did.
His prayers reflected the concerns of the Father in heaven. The Nature, dimension and extent of prayer depend upon our understanding of God, perception of need and possibility of answered prayers. Individual prayers, family prayers and corporate prayers in gatherings of believers as Church or elsewhere all have their importance.
The extent of time one spends in prayer is directly proportional to the knowledge one has of God. In submission to God, according to this knowledge, one can pray. The pursuit of God will engage the soul of man in its entirety. There will be an intense interplay of dynamics between the mind, emotions and will in practicing the discipline of prayer.
3. Prayer can bring freedom
Though effortless to pray, one will soon realize that it takes much effort and time to become effortless. It is somewhat akin to freedom. To enjoy freedom, a price must be paid. It doesn't happen over night. It is like breathing. Every one can breathe normally, but breathing exercises enable one to breathe consciously and keep one healthy. The art of prayer needs the support of the science of prayer. The spirit of man, the innermost being, viz., the seat of conscience, imagination, intuition and inspiration, filled with the very Spirit of God will exult in the Divine Presence. So prayer becomes a Divine human experience. The time one spends in prayer will depend upon the leading of the Spirit, measure of experience of God, and desire of ones heart.
4. Different ways to pray
There are different ways to pray. Invocation, Supplication, petition are only entry levels and are more commonly practiced. As the relationship matures, waiting, agonizing, praising, adoring, worshipping, and basking in His Presence all become a part of this Divine-human romance. At this level of intimacy, every breath is prayer and every sigh an intercession.
Prayer journals are helpful. To record ones experiences with God can build faith in times of stress and need. They can be like a bouquet of refreshing moments collected over a period of time. Faith feeds on answered prayers. They can serve as an audit of our relationship level with God.
Saints have used several formats of various ritual prayers over a period of time. For instance, Charles Spurgeon wrote his prayers down. Suzanna Wesley had nineteen children. She, apart from keeping the house, the parsonage, editing a magazine, spent time praying with each child regularly. No wonder that two of her children, John and Charles Wesley, changed the history of Britain. Also, the church prayed in the home of Rhoda and Peter was freed from the prison.
Believers prayed together in the Upper Room and the Spirit came upon them and they received power to be witnesses. Throughout the Bible, people have prayed like the women who asked for children, men who sought for victories and even for Nations. Abraham prayed for the deliverance of Lot, Moses sought for guidance on behalf of the Nation, Isaiah waited for his strength to be renewed and Jesus prayed for the oneness of those who belong to Him. There is no wrong prayer…too small a concern or too large a feat to put before the Lord.
Prayers come in many forms. Spontaneous prayers from the heart are effective. Public prayers are short, passionate, purposeful and to the point according to the spirit of the gathering. Public prayers reflect the spirit and the concern of all those gathered. Praying with a list, prophetic prayer, perceptive prayer, praying scriptures out, are some ways to pray. Loud prayers with groaning and sighing, prayers in singing format, writing poems of prayer, painting a picture of prayer, silent prayers, and contemplative prayers are various ways to pray. The only way to grow in prayer is to PRAY.
Have you prayed today?