#faith · 2018 · Life · Life Copes · September

5 Effortless Ways to Strengthen Your Prayer Life

Welcome to the first leg of our Prayer Journey. I’m super excited and can’t wait to get started.

I realize posts like this can sometimes be off-putting to some and may feel a bit preachy to others. I am going to do my best to keep either of those things from happening here. Hopefully, this will simply become a learning experience for all of us.

If you’re a believer in Christ, FANTASTIC, keep walking that path with Him!! If you’re on the fence and wondering if you believe, SUPER, keep asking the tough questions and learning who He is! If you’re not a believer, IT’s OKAY, keep reading with an open mind.

Listen, I’m not the preachy type and I work really hard to not be judgmental towards anyone.  Sometimes I succeed, other times, I fail. What I do know is this; I am a Christ follower and I believe Jesus died on the cross for me. I am called to tell others the Good News and I do that through my stories of life. This is just one more of those stories.

Before we get to the meat of this leg of our journey, let me tell you how I got here.

I’ve always been a bit addle-brained when it comes to praying. It often confused me about what I was to pray, how I was to pray or when I was to pray. When I did pray, I was easily distracted with my mind running hither and yon without any warning. I would be praying along and then suddenly be thinking about something I needed to get done for the day or the grocery list or the bug that went crawling across my shoe (that is if I was outside…LOL). The distractions never stopped.

I would apologize to God for being so easily swayed away from praying, but then the next time I prayed it would be no different. If you read my posts regularly then you know I found a prayer app, yes an app, called Echo, that helps me stay focused. It has helped me a great deal, but I still get befuddled about prayer.

In true Robyn fashion, I decided it was time for a little research. This time, I grabbed my Bible instead of turning to the internet or Pinterest. I use The Inspirational Bible (New Century Version) with Max Lucado as the general editor. I love the way it’s written and the extra lessons that are shared.

In the back of my Bible (which I’m sure most, if not all Bibles have) there is a topical index to selected readings, so, I flipped it open and searched the word prayer and read through and wrote down each page number and Scripture. Then I went to the dictionary with topical concordance a little farther back and once again read and wrote down each page that had a reference to prayer.

As I was doing this, I realized that many of the sidebar lessons had an exploration section. These little paragraphs were titled and I started scouring the pages looking for ones that talked about prayer.

I couldn’t read enough or learn enough about prayer. I’m sure I still don’t know everything the Bible says about prayer, but what I have is pretty darn spectacular!

Let’s dig in then, shall we?

brown book page
Photo by Wendy van Zyl on Pexels.com

What the Bible Says About Prayer

One of the greatest things in the Bible, to me, is when one of the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray. Luke 11: 2-4 and Matthew 6:9-13 tells us of Jesus’ answer. He told them,

When you pray say,

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from the evil one

Prior to giving them what they should say, He speaks more on how we should pray. In Matthew 6:5-8, he says,

And when you pray do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

Jesus’ answer didn’t end there. In Luke 11:5-13, there is even more instruction on how we should pray.

Then Jesus said to them,

Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.

“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

11 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!

There was one more instruction regarding prayer and it comes from Matthew 6:14-15

Jesus tells his disciples

14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

WOW! That’s a pretty clear and concise answer to one simple request. Now, how does that translate into our prayer life?

Let’s break it down. Ready?

Copy of Photo by Cristian Newman on Unsplash

The Take Aways

Prayer is a personal and private moment between you and God. It isn’t something that needs to be ornate or showie. His word tells us to go into our room and close the door (I’d bet this is where the War Room idea came from). Matt 6:6

Keep it simple. God doesn’t need big words and fancy phrases. He just needs you, Him and your heart. That’s it. He wants you to tell him what’s on your heart. He already knows, but he likes it when we trust him enough to tell him. This shows him we want a relationship with him.  Matt 6:7-8

Be persistent. Don’t hesitate to continue bringing your heart to God, even if its the same question, the same problem, the same desire. He knows what you need. Sometimes the answer might be NO, other times it may be a YES, either way, keep asking, keep seeking, keep knocking. Never fear shameless audacity. Come to Him knowing he wants you there seeking him always. Luke 11: 5-11

Forgive like you are forgiven. You may be asking how this fits into what the Bible says about praying. As I see it, if we forgive those who have hurt us when we pray, we are able to be set free from those terribly heavy chains unforgiveness makes us carry around. When you’re talking with God (praying) allow yourself to say to him, I forgive yadda, yadda, yadda for x, y, and z. Then watch those chains fall away. Forgiveness is really less about the person you’re forgiving and more about setting you free of that bondage of anger, hurt, bitterness, resentment, etc.  Matt 6:14-15

Use the prayer Jesus gave. There are times when we don’t know what to pray. Other times we feel our prayers are too small or too big. When those times come, just pray the prayer Jesus taught the disciples. I have a pastor friend who uses the Lord’s Prayer as a guide for all of his prayers. (more on that at a later time). All I’m saying is, he gave us this prayer, let’s use it. Luke 11: 2-4 and Matt 6:9-13

Closing Thoughts

I always perceived prayer as something that had to be this pretty worded, life-altering event. That thought process was actually why I struggled to pray in a group or during communal prayer. I was afraid my prayer wouldn’t be up to snuff or that it would sound too simple. I also had the idea that when I talked with God I needed to say certain things.

The truth is, God just wants us to talk to him. He wants to know we desire a relationship with him. I mean, we wouldn’t hang out with your friends and not talk, right? We wouldn’t go to our mom’s house and give these great, in-depth speeches and use big fancy words. Of course not, that would seem silly. When we talk with friends, sometimes it’s intimate and private. Sometimes, we’re in pain and need them to listen. At other times, we need things from them. This, in my opinion, is exactly the way prayer is. Prayer is time to spend talking with our best friend, God.

Your Turn

What do you struggle with when it comes to prayer?

 

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