Your prayer life is about to be radically transformed! What you are about to read is NOT a blog… it’s a journey. Not meant to be read in one sitting, this five-part series has been compiled and designed as a prayer devotional. Take your time, follow the steps outlined, and get ready to become the prayer warrior you always dreamed you could be.
After working in an international prayer center for many years and fielding prayer requests from all over the world, I have discovered that many people are just plain pinheaded when it comes to prayer!
You may think that I’m exaggerating but I can assure you that I am UNDERstating the problem. I can clearly remember one of my first days on the job. I was so excited to have the honor of standing in faith with people who were believing for God to work miracles in their lives. My delusions of innocent agreement in prayer soon came crashing down when one of my first calls was from a woman who wanted me to pray for God to kill her sons pediatrician! Oh, don’t worry… “He deserved it!” Apparently he had suggested that her 9-year-old son ought to be able to tie his shoes by now.
Be careful! This may sound so extreme to you that you feel it’s completely un-relatable to your prayer life but the truth is that if something is blocking your fellowship with God or hindering your prayers from being answered there’s no difference in results between the person who prays for God to kill someone and the one who prays concerning the healing of a deadly disease, “Lord if it be Thy will…”. Although the emotional and mental state of the individual praying for outright murder is beyond insane and cannot be compared to the pinhead praying, “Lord if it be Thy will…” both are praying in ignorance and neither will be answered.
From vain repetitions to pinheaded petitions, the prayer warrior has become a crapshooter! We don’t really know if it’s going to work but, “Come on, Jesus! Daddy needs a new pair of shoes!” Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be this way. There are some very simple things that anyone can do that will transform them from being a pinhead to a person whose prayers are answered every time!
This week we will begin a series of blogs titled, “The Pinhead’s Guide to Prayer” or “PGP” that will highlight the simple keys to “right praying” because it’s not enough to pray… you’ve got to pray right!
PGP Part 2: Make An Appointment!
The key to effective prayer is preparation. Too often Christians randomly select an available time during their day and simply pray about whatever crosses their minds. After a few minutes of this tedious exorcise they run out of things to pray, their minds get distracted by their impending daily responsibilities, lose focus, and wonder, “How in the world is anyone suppose to pray for 30 minutes, much less an hour!?” Does any of that sound familiar? Sure it does! We’ve all struggled with that type of thinking but thank God, it doesn’t have to be that way. If you adequately prepare for your time with your Heavenly Father the only difficulty you’ll have is wondering where the time went.
Let Your Prayer Time Be Holy Because God Is Holy
What does it mean when the Bible says that God is “Holy”? The word, “holy” has many connotations. It means to be pure, consecrated and separated. God is “holy” because He is absolutely separate from the world. If you desire to persuade a Holy God to commune with you, it will benefit you to have a “holy” time for Him to meet with you.
Instead of randomly selecting whatever time, if any, you might have in a day to pray, set a specific time that is “holy” and separate. Separate a time each day that is scheduled just for you and God and allow nothing to interrupt that time.
There are those casual seekers who will say that this is not a possibility in today’s world where people have families, careers, and a multitude of daily activities the prevent this type of prayer. I myself had made the same argument until the Holy Spirit showed me that right in the middle of the busiest seasons in my life I somehow found time to make appointments with doctors, dentists, mechanics, etc.
When we perceive something as important, we will make time for it no matter how inconvenient it may be. Friends, prayer is important! In fact, I would say that it is the most important thing you will do today. Schedule a certain time daily, perhaps after everyone in your home is asleep at night or early in the morning. You could even break your time up into smaller increments throughout your day but set the time and make it holy. Don’t allow the world to spoil your time with God.
You’ll find that when you make an appointment with God and keep it daily, He’ll show up before you do and it will radically increase the effectiveness of your time with Him.
If this has been a blessing to you, share it with your friends on Facebook and Twitter and stay tuned for our next tip this week in, “The Pinhead’s Guide to Prayer”.
PGP Part 3: Leave Your Drama at the Door!
Part 3 in the “Pinhead’s Guide to Prayer” (PGP) may be a little difficult for some of you pinheads but, Hey… I believe in you. You can do it!
If you want to have a great time with God in prayer and give birth to a new awakening in your life you must be disciplined enough to leave all of your drama at the door. This may sound harsh to some because the only reason many ever go to God is because of some temporal emotional need. There are some who only see prayer as a spare tire instead of a place of relationship and communication.
I am NOT saying that you can’t share these types of needs with God. God cares about all of your struggles both big and small but how many friends would you have if you began every conversation with them by unloading your problems and asking them for help?
The place of prayer is more than a one stop, quick fix for all of your needs. The place of prayer is a place of relationship and communion. Think about the kind of people you enjoy being around. Are they always depressed? Are they always talking about their needs? Do they always say the same thing to you over and over and over? This is what most prayer is like.
On the other hand, do you like hanging around people who always have an encouraging spirit about them? Isn’t it great to fellowship with people who always have a hopeful demeanor no matter what they’re facing in life? There are some people who make you feel better just by being around them. In fact, if you find someone like this, you’ll go out of your way to be around them.
Like you, God wants to be around people with the right spirit. John 4:23, 24 says that “the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.” From this verse it’s obvious to see that God is looking for certain people to hang out with.
Look at the story of the Syrophenician Woman in Matthew chapter fifteen. Here we see a woman with tremendous problems and a lot of drama at home. Her own daughter is being tormented by demonic spirits. Some of you may know what it’s like to see someone you love being ravaged by addiction, disease, and tragedy. Your heart breaks because there is nothing you can do to help them.
This woman was justified in her desperate attempt to find help for her daughter. You may be justified in your feelings of desperation when you come to God in prayer but you must learn that God cannot respond to you simply because you have a need no matter how authentic it may be. God can only respond to those who approach Him with a heart of faith. The proof of this is found in verse 23 when it says, “He answered her not a word”.
There are people who love Jesus and there is no doubt that Jesus loves them but that fact is that, He doesn’t like talking to them. There are people in your life whom you love yet you don’t like talking to them because they don’t have the right spirit. Luckily this woman who came to Jesus didn’t give up. She changed her approach and verse 25 says that she came again, left her drama at the door and “worshiped Him”.
PGP Part 4: God is from Missouri
This next key in “The Pinhead’s Guide to Prayer” (PGP) is probably the most important. If you want to be effective in prayer, you must be prepared to Worship God FIRST.
The importance of worship can be better explained by the Missouri state motto. In fact, through my exegetical, hermeneutical, theological, and philosophical studies I have come to believe that God is from Missouri. Why? Because, Missouri is the, “Show Me State”!
People can say, “I love you, Lord” all day long but God’s response is always, “Show me!” You’re love for God isn’t unique. Groundhogs love the Lord! Blue Birds love the Lord! What separates us from the rest of creation that truly “loves the Lord” is our unique capacity to worship. Even the angels in all their might and beauty cannot worship like those who have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. We can show God our love for Him through our worship.
Many Christians mentally agree with the idea of worship but very few actually prepare for worship. Worship is often considered something reserved for the “super-spiritual” but in reality it’s much more practical than you might expect.
Preparation is the difference between success and failure in worship. How do you prepare for worship? Most don’t “prepare” for worship at all! It’s no wonder they don’t know what to say! Here are a few steps to help you to show God your love for Him.
1) Take some time to think about all of the wonderful attributes of God that mean something to you and write them down.
2) Now write down WHY they matter to you.
Perhaps you’re thankful that He’s your “Healer” or maybe you’re like me and amazed at His, “Longsuffering” because of how hard-headed we can be! To start off, list between 5-10 divine attributes and how they have affected your life. From His grace and mercy to His power and authority, this list will grow over time and so will your ability to worship.
3) Once you have some divine attributes written down, find a Bible verse or two that extol these characteristics; the Book of Palms is overflowing with this kind of Worship. Write these verses down.
Take your time with the first three steps. Feel free to take a week or two to put this together during your personal Bible Study time.
Once you have written these things down you are prepared to worship. If you’re worried about this taking away from the normal, exuberant, and unpredictable worship you’re used to, don’t be. This kind of preparation and organization will actually add to the organic nature of your worship.
4) Finally, simply thank God for the aspects of His divine nature that you’ve written down, read the corresponding verses out loud, and tell Him what they’ve meant to you personally.
People inevitably ask, “How long should I worship?” The answer is simple. You should worship until you have the assurance that He has inhabited your praise (Psalm 22:3) and that He has approved of your worship with His presence. This assurance may come by being able to tangibly sense the presence of God or through an inward knowing and peace. Either way, there’s no mistaking God’s presence.
There is really no reason to pray at all for any need until the presence of God shows up. Learning to wait on God in prayer through worship will take the struggle out of your daily prayer life.
If you learn to worship first you’ll discover that in the presence of God difficult things become easy and all of the drama you were worried about will turn out to be insignificant.
PGP Part 5: Did Jesus Have Amnesia?
Once you have taken time to worship first, you will feel the presence of God right there where you are. At times God’s presence will come to us like a rushing wind or a mighty fire and at other times it will come as a still small voice or an inner witness. Either way you will know that God is near.
Once you have the assurance and peace that comes from knowing that God is near, it’s time to speak the Word. One must be careful not to begin to speak their own words for the Holy Spirit is like a dove and He is very particular about where he rests. Our creator is looking for someone to agree with.
Do you remember when Jesus was walking with His disciples along the coast of Caesarea Philippi (Matthew 16:15) and He asked them, “Who do you say that I am”? What was the purpose of this question? Did Jesus have amnesia? Did He forget who He was? Of course not! He was looking for someone to agree with Him because agreement is His only way to access to your life.
According to Genesis chapter one and Psalm chapter eight, God placed you and I in authority in the earth. Therefore if God desires to do anything significant in the earth He must get you to agree with Him. This is the purpose of prayer! Your Heavenly Father needs to find someone to say, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”. This is the essence of true prayer: agreement with God.
All prayer must begin with the Word of God and the desired end of each prayer must be the fulfillment of Will of God.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that the Bible verses you need will suddenly come to you when you begin to pray. Prepare yourself for success in prayer by writing down Bible verses that articulate the Will of God for your life and once the presence of God shows up, begin to speak them out loud and praise God for His Word.
“I don’t think the way you think.
The way you work isn’t the way I work.”
“For as the sky soars high above earth,
so the way I work surpasses the way you work,
and the way I think is beyond the way you think.
Just as rain and snow descend from the skies
and don’t go back until they’ve watered the earth,
Doing their work of making things grow and blossom,
producing seed for farmers and food for the hungry,
So will the words that come out of my mouth
not come back empty-handed.
They’ll do the work I sent them to do,
they’ll complete the assignment I gave them.” Isaiah 55:10,11