The Practical Side of Prayer

A few years ago I was praying one afternoon when I began to sense God trying to get my attention. It was as if He wanted to say something specific to me. The more I prayed the more I could sense His presence burdening me to seek Him.

I had scheduled a vacation, but it was several weeks away. I decided to change my plans and go earlier. I would spend my time away in prayer and in seeking God's guidance. For two weeks, I sought the Lord and asked Him to make His will very clear to me. I prayed and waited. The entire time was a period of personal cleansing and preparation for what God was about to do in my life.

I went back home excited about the time I had spent away but was still somewhat unsure about what God was saying. It was as if there was a veil or a covering over the details to what God was revealing. I knew in my heart the answer was very near, but it was just outside of my reach. A short time later while I was praying I sensed the veil lift. God gave me His answer. He unveiled what was once hidden to me when I made a commitment to seek and trust Him no matter how long it took.

God is faithful, and He went on to show me many things that a few weeks earlier I was not prepared to accept or receive as being from Him. Lovingly, He had used prayer to prepare my heart. But the practicality of prayer does not stop where the blessing begins. Once we discover God's mind in a certain situation, prayer becomes our link to His heart and mind as to how and when to move forward. Without prayer we are left alone to work things out for ourselves, which none of us can do.

Prayer is the instructional method that puts us in touch with the heart of Almighty God at any time and any place

Andrew Murray was a great man of faith and prayer. In the book, With Christ In The School Of Prayer, he writes: "Jesus never taught His disciples how to preach, only how to pray."

"The disciples had been with Christ, and seen Him pray. They had [learned] to understand something of the connection between His wondrous life in public, and His secret life of prayer. They had [learned] to believe in Him as a Master in the art of prayer - none could pray like Him. And so they came to Him with the request, 'Lord, teach us to pray.'. . .

"As we grow in the Christian life, the thought and the faith of the Beloved Master in His never-failing intercession becomes ever more precious, and the hope of being like Christ in His intercession gains an attractiveness before the unknown. . . . [Prayer] is the very essence of true religion, the channel of all blessings, the secret of power and life - not only for ourselves, but for others. . . . True prayer, that takes hold of God's strength, that availeth much, to which the gates of heaven are really opened wide - who would not cry, oh for someone to teach me thus to pray?

"Jesus has opened a school, in which He trains His redeemed ones, who specially desire it, to have power in prayer. Shall we not enter it with the petition, Lord! It is just this we need to be taught! O teach us to pray."

Essentially prayer is where we profess our need of Christ and His solution to our problems

It is also the place where we learn to worship Him and grow spiritually in His loving presence. An older pastor got in the habit of challenging his congregation by quoting Jeremiah 33:3. "Call to Me, and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know." Leveling his eyes at those gathered before him, he would say, "Try it. It works!"

This is a very simple thought, but one that carries a tremendous truth. God wants us to call to Him. Many times He allows disappointment to rake through our lives with the intent of drawing us closer to Himself. Prayer is the most powerful tool a believer has. Nothing compares to it.

Don't worry about what to say to the Lord. The Holy Spirit will show you. If there is a need, all you have to think about is telling Him, "Lord, I need You." Tears are just as effective as words at times, and God is sensitive to every tear you cry. Just as He listens to the hurt you feel, He also knows how to deal with and guide you through any anger that has penetrated your life.

It allows us an opportunity to tell God that we have been offended but that we are willing to give the entire matter to Him and allow Him to deal with it accordingly. In Psalms, He promises to do just that: "I will contend with those who contend with you" (Psalm 35:1).

God is bigger than any problem you are facing

He knows the way before you, and only He can guide you through the difficulty. Always let your first response to trial be to go to Him in prayer. This is where hope invades your life and fills you with the reassurance of His undergirding presence.

There are several things that are essential to establishing a powerful prayer life. One is to choose a definite time to spend in prayer. The idea is consistency. Setting a time, whether it is early in the morning or late in the evening, is not what is at issue. The fact that you want to spend time with God is the motivator. Ask Him to show you the perfect time when you can be alone with Him even for fifteen minutes. God honors the prayers of His people. If you come to him, He will provide all you need for your prayer life.

If possible, select a place where you can be alone with Him. Obligations with younger children may need to be considered. When it comes to prayer you will find that God is very creative, and He will provide the place for you to seek Him. Making the commitment to pray is an essential step. This alone tells God that your heart is open to His and that you want to learn more about Him and the life He has planned for you.

As we spend time with Him, God lovingly teaches us how to pray and how to listen for His still, small voice replying to our humble request. Prayer is the doorway to blessing and freedom from bondage. As we pray, God teaches us more about Himself and the spiritual warfare needed to combat the enemy. A study of Ephesians 6 reveals that daily God calls us to put on the armor of God and to stand firm in our faith. The only way to do this is through prayer and complete reliance on Jesus Christ, who is Lord over all.

Murray writes: "The powers of the eternal world have been placed at [prayer's] disposal." I tell my congregation that the distance between success and failure and victory and defeat is about six to twelve inches or whatever the distance is for you to drop to your knees and pray to your wondrous Lord and Savior.

Over your lifetime, you will face many difficult situations. Some will be very exciting and challenging. Whatever life sends your way, you can be sure that God cares. He enjoys seeing you excited over His blessings, and He mourns with you when tragedy strikes.

One of the things I have enjoyed doing over the years is to keep a journal that contains many prayers and God's insights for each request. You can do the same thing by writing out your need and the way God answers your prayers. Pray that He will provide specific verses that apply to your situation. Look for His promises in His Word. Claim them, write them down, and trust Him. You will never be disappointed.

My challenge to you is simple. Whatever you're facing, trust God with it. Ask Him to take away the anxiety, fear, and feelings of frustration. When you trust the Lord, you rest in His care. You probably could name at least one place where you feel safe and accepted. But there is no place where you will feel more accepted or secure than in the presence of God. All of this and much more waits for you as you come to Him.

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