Tag Archives: praying

Becoming People Of Prayer

How much time do you spend in prayer each day? I once read that D.L. Moody spent up to 8 hours a day in prayer. That has always challenged me. I’ve been on church trips where the men would take a two day trip to spend them in fasting and prayer. There would be times when you would see people nod off. When they woke up, they would snap their head back up and say, “Amen!” On those trips I learned how hard it was to spend a lot of time in prayer, even with prayer a focus each hour. It’s also where I learned that prayer was a conversation with God. Can you imagine an 8 hour one way conversation? It was then that I learned to tune into God’s voice by giving Him time to speak in my prayer time.

You can’t read the Gospels without seeing how much time Jesus devoted to prayer. Sometimes He would spend an entire night in prayer, alone with God. The disciples were intrigued by how much time He prayed and even asked Him to teach them how to pray. They saw that prayer was important to Jesus and were challenged to pray more. Prayer became a cornerstone of the Early Church. It actually was birthed from a ten day prayer meeting. Can you imagine praying for ten days straight? I’m convinced that that kind of prayer is the missing element in today’s Church. We must return to being people of prayer. We have to make spending time with God a priority bot privately and corporately if we want to become effective in this world.

Colossians 4:2 says, “Be persistent and devoted to prayer, being alert and focused in your prayer life with an attitude of thanksgiving” (AMP). Have we lost our persistence in prayer? Have we made prayer a priority? It’s not too late to return to this foundational principle of our faith. I don’t know if God is asking you to give Him 8 hours, but you can start with at least 8 minutes. We need to have time set aside each day where we spend it in prayer without being interrupted. We need a place to meet with God where we won’t fall asleep or have distractions that will cause our mind to wander. I believe God is calling you and I back to being people of prayer. Not just rote prayers over meals and bedtime, but real conversations with God. He’s waiting for us. Will we make spending time with Him a priority? Only you can answer that.

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Does Prayer Work?

When I was a child, I went to vacation Bible school with my friend. On one day, the pastor came in and asked, “Can we change God’s mind?” In my eight year old mind, I had already figured God out, so I raised my hand. When he called on me, I gave an emphatic. “No!” He then asked me, “Then why do we pray for people and situations?” I didn’t have an answer. “Maybe we can change the mind of God,” I thought. That conversation changed how I viewed God and how I pray.

In Exodus 32, Moses went up Mount Sinai to get instructions from the Lord. He was gone 40 days, and the people began to wonder if he was coming back. They decided to create their own god out of gold from their earrings and other jewelry. They built a golden calf, then built an altar and worshiped it. God became angry and told Moses what was happening. He then told Moses that he was just going to destroy them all and start over. He was through with these stubborn people.

Moses quickly came to their defense. He reminded God of all the things He did to bring them out of Egypt. He didn’t want the Egyptians to take credit for their deaths. He then reminded God of the covenants He made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Then in verse 14, the Bible says, “So the LORD changed his mind about the terrible disaster he had threatened to bring on his people” (NLT). There it is! Right in the Bible in black and white. Moses changed God’s mind.

Whatever you’re facing today, your prayers can make a difference. They can change your situation and even the mind of God about what’s happening. Your prayers matter to God and He’s listening to them. Moses reminded God of the promises He made, and we can too. Don’t be afraid to ask God to change His mind. Who knows what He will do? What we do know is that prayer changes things, including God’s mind.

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Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

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Giving God Attention

How many times have you had a conversation with someone, but your mind was elsewhere? Probably too many times to count. I’m usually thinking about several things trying to solve a problem or find a solution to them. When someone engages me in conversation during these times, I’m honestly not listening to them talk in those cases. Im present in the conversation, but not mentally in it. To be honest, it even happens when I’m not trying to solve things, but I’ve had to learn that listening and engaging with others is one of the best ways to value them. I have to tell myself (while they’re talking) to pay attention and listen. Otherwise, if it’s not something I’m really interested in or don’t see how it relates to me, my mind wants to wander. I’ve had to train myself to be present in conversations.

If it happens to you with people, it also happens to you in prayer. How many times have you started to pray and then you remember you were supposed to do something? Our minds start to wander and think of things we need to be doing instead of engaging with God in prayer. Those voices need to shut down immediately or your prayer time will turn into a thinking time. I have to stop the thoughts the moment they come in. I’ve got a friend who keeps a notebook beside him when he prays. He writes down those things that pop in his mind so he has a to-do list when he’s done. He jokingly says, “I let the devil be my secretary. He tries to disrupt my prayer, but I use it as him giving me all the things I need to do.” However you choose to do it, prayer is something we must engage in with our utmost attention. We are speaking with the King of Kings after all. He deserves our attention.

Colossians 4:2 says, “Be persistent and devoted to prayer, being alert and focused in your prayer life with an attitude of thanksgiving” (AMP). To get the answers we need from Heaven, we need to be persistent in our prayer. Jesus gave a couple of parables about this. We must also be alert and focused during our prayer time giving God all of our attention. Prayer closets are a good place to block everything else out to give God your complete attention. I also recommend leaving your phone somewhere else and finding a time when you won’t be disrupted by others. When our prayer life suffers, our relationship with Him suffers. God loves quality time and the best way to do that is to have a set time when you can engage with Him in prayer uninterrupted and to stay focused on Him. Quick short prayers are good, but they’re like text messages. A relationship can’t thrive on just texts. Have focused conversations with God too and you’ll see your relationship with Him bloom like never before.

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Connecting With God

When I was 20 years old, I was on staff at a church. My boss wanted our team to read a book on Prayer and discuss it as we went. I had been raised in church all of my life, been to prayer meetings and prayed publicly often, but I had never been taught how to pray. A better way to say it is that I had never been given a model of prayer. I just winged it each time. I had a lot of passion, but it often lacked direction. In this book, and with our discussions, I was taught the ACTS model of praying. In this model, you start with adoration, then move into confession of sins. After that you give thanks for the things God has done in your life, and will do. Finally, you end with supplication for your needs and the needs of others. Before using that model, my prayer time had simply been supplications for what I needed at the moment. While that’s good, it’s not really communicating and connecting to God.

Prayer is not just an avenue to ask God for things. It’s a way to experience His presence, to hear His voice and to know He is God. It’s a way for us to take the focus off of our immediate needs and to put it on the One whose name is above every other name or need we have. Prayer is a two way conversation with God where we spend time in silence listening for His voice. It’s not about the method, the ritual or getting the words right. It’s about posturing our heart before God, humbling ourselves by recognizing there are things we cannot do, and only He can. God’s desire to walk with us daily has remained the same since the Garden of Eden. He desires a deep connection with you that’s only attained through one on one prayer and conversation. Quick prayers throughout the day are nice, but the intimacy that He desires with us in the relationship only happens when you spend quality time with Him.

Here are some Bible verses on prayer.

1. Confess and acknowledge how you have offended one another and then pray for one another to be instantly healed, for tremendous power is released through the passionate, heartfelt prayer of a godly believer!

James (Jacob) 5:16 TPT

2. With all prayer and petition pray [with specific requests] at all times [on every occasion and in every season] in the Spirit, and with this in view, stay alert with all perseverance and petition [interceding in prayer] for all God’s people.

Ephesians 6:18 AMP

3. The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know. Pray especially for rulers and their governments to rule well so we can be quietly about our business of living simply, in humble contemplation. This is the way our Savior God wants us to live.

1 Timothy 2:1-3 MSG

4. For this reason I tell you: When you pray and ask for something, believe that you have received it, and you will be given whatever you ask for.

Mark 11:24 GNT

5. Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.

Matthew 6:6 MSG

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Being Persistent

What’s one characteristic that you have that makes you successful? Have you ever thought about that? Each of us have natural giftings and characteristics that God gave us that help us to be successful. I like to ask that question because I get a lot of different answers. My answer is usually determination or consistency. Consistency is what dug the Grand Canyon and determination can keep you focused to accomplish anything. I try to be consistent in every area of my life. What you see is what you get. I’ve also learned that there are characteristics that I can learn and implement into my life in order to be more successful. I don’t have to just rely on and use my natural giftings.

In Luke 11, the disciples were talking privately with Jesus and they asked Him to teach them to pray. He taught them what we refer to as The Lord’s Prayer. As soon as He finished, He gave an illustration to help them understand how to pray better. He gave the example of a person who had a friend show up unexpectedly in the middle of the night. Instead of putting them to bed, he needed to serve them some food, but didn’t have any. He then went to his neighbor and knocked on the door to ask for food. The neighbor was in bed and didn’t want to give the food, but the person kept knocking and wouldn’t go away. Because they wouldn’t stop, the neighbor will get out of bed and give him what he needs. Jesus then said our prayers should be like that instead of one and done or asking timidly.

In verse 11, Jesus gave a characteristic that we can al, learn and implement. He said, “Every persistent person will get what he asks for. Every persistent seeker will discover what he needs. And everyone who knocks persistently will one day find an open door” (TPT). Persistency. How many times have we been persistent with God like a kid in the grocery store wanting something? We tell ourselves that we don’t want to bother God with our problem or believe the lie that God doesn’t care about our issue. Those lies are meant to rob you of your blessing and to keep you from communicating with your Heavenly Father. Don’t listen to them. Instead, pound on Heaven’s door and let God know you’re not going away until you get what you need. Jesus said every persistent person will get what they ask for. Don’t quit asking. Don’t quit seeking. Don’t quit knocking.

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All Access Pass

Have you ever met a person that you respected or admired, then got to have a real conversation with them? Then, at the end of the conversation, they gave you their number and said, “If you ever need anything, reach out to me.” I’ve had that happen a few times. I still have their cards, but I can tell you I’ve never called them. I’m too afraid that I’ll be seen as someone who abused the privilege of having access to them. I don’t want them to think I’m bothering them with a stupid request. So I hang onto my key to access them without ever accessing them.

The crazy thing is that many of us have that same attitude when it comes to accessing God. We think He’s got bigger problems to solve than ours. We reason that He doesn’t want to be bothered with our needs. We then try to justify, “He probably wouldn’t answer anyway.” So we hang onto our access to God, but we rarely access Him. I’m here to tell you that Jesus didn’t rip the veil between man and God for us to not use that access. He invited us to come boldly into the Throne Room.

1 Corinthians 4:8 says, “You already have more access to God than you can handle” (MSG). Think about that. You and I have more access to God than we can handle. Access that He expects us to use. Whatever failures you point to, God can forgive. Whatever wisdom you need, God can give. Whatever problems you’re facing, God can resolve, but you have to access Him. You can’t just sit back and do nothing. Use your “All Access” badge, get into the Throne Room of Heaven and let God know your request.

God is able to handle the toughest problems of this world and your greatest need at the same time. You don’t need to feel ashamed or timid in approaching Him. His ways are not our ways and His wisdom is not our wisdom so He may answer in an unexpected way. Present your needs to Him without telling Him how to solve them. God is deeply concerned about the things you’re concerned about, and He has the power to resolve them. Don’t believe the lie that you need to leave Him alone. You have the access, now use it.

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Watching And Waiting

Have you ever been around a person who loves to hear the sound of their own voice? How does it feel when you try to engage them in conversation and they never give you the opportunity to speak? After a while, you either quit trying to talk to them or you just don’t say anything at all to them because you know it’s going to fall on deaf ears. When you see them approaching you or their caller ID shows up on your phone, you almost sigh because you know what’s coming.

If we don’t like it when people do that to us, then why do we think God likes it when we do it to Him? Think about your prayers to God. How often do you stop talking and start listening? Prayer should be a conversation between you and God, not a wish list of things you’d like to see done to make your life easier. There’s a time for you to talk and a time for God to respond. If it’s been a while since you’ve heard God speak to you, ask yourself, “When’s the last time I was quiet in my prayer time?”

I know it’s a hard concept to some because we think of prayer as a list of things we want, but prayer is so much more than that. It’s designed to be the time you communicate and have a conversation with the creator of the universe. It’s designed for us to spend time with Him getting to know His heart. We have to learn that it’s ok to spend our prayer time listening. If we never listen, how will we know His heart, His desires for our life, or His thoughts on how we should respond to social issues as His representatives on earth?

David said in Psalm 5:3, “In the morning You hear my voice, O Lord; in the morning I prepare [a prayer, a sacrifice] for You and watch and wait [for You to speak to my heart]” (AMP). David understood that God wanted to hear his prayers and that God wanted to speak to His heart so he built time to watch and to wait into his prayer time. God wants us to do the same so He can speak to our hearts. If it’s been a while since you’ve heard God speak to you, try watching and waiting today to see what He says.

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Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

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God Is Listening

Hearing is one of your five senses. It’s something we all do passively. It requires no effort on our part to hear things. Everywhere we go, we’re bombarded by sounds that our ears have learned to tune out. Because of that, sometimes when someone is talking to us, we hear them, but we’re not listening to them. When we have something important to say to someone and they don’t respond, we usually ask, “Are you listening to what I said?” We don’t just need them to hear the sound of our voice. We need them to pay attention, to comprehend what we’re saying and to do something about it. There’s a big difference between passively hearing and actively listening.

There are times in our lives when we pray to God where we don’t just want Him to hear our prayers. We need Him to listen to them and take action. In those times of desperation, our prayers are cries from the bottom of our heart going straight to the Father. We need Him to listen to our requests, to pay attention and to intervene. I’ve prayed many of these prayers in my life. Some have been answered and some have gone unanswered. No matter what, I know that God listens to more than the words of our prayers. He hears our heart – the pain and desperation inside. Like a good father, He bends down and says, “Don’t fear. I hear you and am working out my plan for you.”

Here are some Bible verses on asking God to listen to our prayers.

1. Listen to my prayer, O God, And do not hide Yourself from my plea. Listen to me and answer me; I am restless and distraught in my complaint.

PSALMS 55:1-2 AMP

2. Lord, bend down to listen to my prayer. I am in deep trouble. I’m broken and humbled, and I desperately need your help.

Psalms 86:1 TPT

3. GOD, listen! Listen to my prayer, listen to the pain in my cries. Don’t turn your back on me just when I need you so desperately. Pay attention! This is a cry for help! And hurry—this can’t wait!

Psalm 102:1-2 MSG

4. I love the Lord, because he hears me; he listens to my prayers. He listens to me every time I call to him.

Psalm 116:1-2 GNT

5. You heard me when I cried, “Listen to my pleading! Hear my cry for help!” Yes, you came when I called; you told me, “Do not fear.”

Lamentations 3:56-57 NLT

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The Importance Of Prayer

Prayer should be as vital to a Christian as a heart is to their body. You simply cannot survive without it. As I’ve traveled the world, I’ve seen different religions have certain times and certain prayers that their adherents must follow and do. Some have to face a certain way, others have to wear special clothes, and some have to repeat certain mantras. Protestant Christianity doesn’t have any of that so that prayer can be an act of willing worship from the heart. It’s about getting alone with your creator, sharing what’s on your heart and listening to what’s on His. Unfortunately many Christians don’t have a regular time to spend with God and instead only offer up prayers when we need God to solve a problem.

I want to encourage you to find a set time to spend with God each day, not out of obligation, but out of devotion. You don’t have to Pray the entire time. Many times prayer is simply sitting in God’s presence and listening. He knows what you’re going to say before you even say it, and hears your heart when words are not enough. Christianity is about having a relationship with God, and relationships live and die on communication. Prayer is our way of communicating with God and finding direction in our lives. Pick a time and a place to meet regularly with God and watch your relationship grow.

Here are some Bible verses on prayer.

1. Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!

Psalms 116:2 NLT

2. GOD ’s there, listening for all who pray, for all who pray and mean it.

Psalm 145:18 MSG

3. Then you will call to me. You will come and pray to me, and I will answer you.

Jeremiah 29:12 GNT

4. I will answer your cry for help every time you pray, and you will find and feel my presence even in your time of pressure and trouble. I will be your glorious hero and give you a feast.

Psalms 91:15 TPT

5. Lord, you know my prayer before I even whisper it. At each and every sunrise you will continue to hear my cry until you answer.

Psalms 88:13 TPT

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Courage To Pray

Recently I asked people on social media what their definition of courage was. I got quite a few responses. Some gave people’s names. Some told stories of maintaining faith in difficult circumstances. The rest had some form of doing what needed to be done in the face of fear. Every one of us face fear of some kind, and its intent is to keep us quiet and still. It tells us we don’t belong, don’t have the right, that we will be embarrassed and ridiculed. Fear makes us think that we don’t have a seat at the table or the right to ask God for things in prayer.

In Matthew 15, a Canaanite woman came to Jesus to request healing for her daughter, but Jesus ignored her. The disciples wanted her to go away. She begged Jesus again to help her. In verse 26, Jesus replied, “It isn’t right to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs” (GNT). Despite being told she didn’t have a seat at the table, she pushed through her fear and kept asking. Finally Jesus said, “You are a woman of great faith! What you want will be done for you.” The Lord answered her request because her faith was greater than her fear.

Psalm 10:17 says, “You will listen, O Lord, to the prayers of the lowly; you will give them courage.” I believe He gives us the courage to keep asking despite what the doctors say, what others think or what fear makes us feel. Don’t let fear of rejection, fear of the worst happening or fear of what God may say keep you from praying and asking for the impossible. God hears every prayer no matter who it comes from. Through Jesus, you and I have a right to enter God’s heavenly throne room to make our requests known. Enter into His presence today and tell Him what you need.

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