Spiritual Discipline: Prayer

Spiritual Discipline: Prayer

Originally posted on February 8, 2018, at 8:10 AM on www.totallyfit4life.net.

If you asked a group of Christians in a Bible study group what the most important thing we can do is, the answer would be a resounding, “PRAY!” It sounds good since we know that is the correct answer. But do we really understand it? Sometimes. Sometimes not. Hopefully, you can understand this is not a subject that I can tritely pop up as a blog post without prayerful consideration and heavenly guidance.

What is Prayer?

Prayer is the foundation of all spiritual disciplines. We can’t practice any of them apart from direct communication with God. It is our spiritual umbilical cord to our Heavenly Father. Without His leadership and direction, spiritual disciplines are empty religious rituals. Within this relationship, we reach up to Him from our innermost being to grasp His hand, climb up in His lap.

Prayer is an intimate connection to our Heavenly Father, God Almighty. Unfortunately, many Christians never become intimate with God well enough that they feel they can approach the throne of the King of Kings. As a result, they resort to KJV language or treat Him as less than who He is. “God, please help…” is a common prayer phrase. God is not our sidekick.

Another common problem is to roll out a list of requests as if He were a genie in a bottle granting our wishes or Santa Claus giving us what we want. Some churches fail to teach Christians what prayer is and how to pray. When we pray, it is essential to consider the majesty and character of God, realizing we are His children with whom He loves to spend time. However, praying, “Yo, Daddy God!” as an inner city brother in Christ I once knew prayed, isn’t a place to stay either. Although we may start in the manners described above, we must grow more and more in our relationship and with Him and our understanding of Him, with our prayers reflecting this spiritual growth.

Prayer is not a duty we must rotely perform to gain Heavenly favor. “Now I lay me down to sleep…” was fine when we were children. It certainly was a great teaching tool. But should we continue in a similar manner? If we listen to ourselves pray, we might be surprised that we reiterate the same words repeatedly. When Jesus taught His disciples to pray, the Lord’s Prayer was never intended to be recited robotically. It was a basic format for us to understand what is essential in prayer. Sometimes people use the Scripture prayer concept to replace their own prayers. God never intended that method to be rote prayer, although praying Scripture back to God is valuable. Prayer comes from an internal desire to converse with God in this love relationship.

 We mature in our faith when we listen more and observe God’s responses. God invites us into His work through prayer for others. He wants us and those around us to grow closer to Him as we see Him work through our prayers. It is not our prayers that honestly do anything, for we can’t do anything apart from Him. It is not telepathically doing anything for someone to change or to get well. Instead, God is doing the work, and we are to give Him full credit due to His Name. When we do so, we point others to the One who saves.

When we understand God’s will, we know better how to pray. God makes His will evident in Scripture, yet we neglect to pray in His will out of our lack of understanding of how to do so. Often, we expect a particular outcome from our prayers, finding ourselves frustrated that God didn’t listen. “Why did He let my father die?” or “Why didn’t I get the job I asked for?” We form these attitudes because of we lack understanding of what it means to pray within God’s will. Death is the final healing. Why would we want to deny a loved one who knows Jesus as their Savior the privilege of being in His eternal presence in a perfect spiritual body? Maybe it’s because we don’t like loss. We don’t want to miss someone we love. Instead, we pray in our own will. Also, remember sometimes God gives us what we ask for to help us understand that He has something much better in store for us. Consider Israel asking God for a king like the other nations around them in 1 Samuel 8. We must be careful what we ask God for because He might give it to us! When we see the contrast, we better grasp our need to seek Him out according to His will.

Prayer is our spiritual shield against Satan’s onslaught of attacks. Once you realize the essence of prayer, you will likely feel under attack. It is because you are. Satan doesn’t want us closer to God. He doesn’t want to lose the battle for our souls because he already lost the Heavenly War. Remember that he wanted to take God’s place because he thought he was better. But Satan, a created-angel-turned- demon, tries to hurt us, discourage us, and lure us away. Don’t be surprised by this. Instead, cling to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee (James 4:7). Also, remember that spiritual leaders like pastors, evangelists, missionaries, Christian authors and speakers, and Bible teachers are constantly under Satan’s attack. They need you to cover them in prayer, to be their spiritual shield-bearers. It is the very best thing you can do for them. I’ve also been under some spiritual attacks while pulling this blog post together. I’m certainly no stranger to this as a former pastor’s wife and leader in a Christian martial arts ministry. Remember that Satan and his demons were defeated on the Cross when Christ died and rose again. As a believer in Christ, use the shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, on your knees in battle. It is the only way to win the battles he brings your way.

Where do we start to understand what God expects of us in Prayer?

Start in God’s Word by look up these verses:

James 5:16-18

James 4:3

Mark 1:35

Psalm 63:1

Acts 6:4

Luke 11:1-13

Luke 22:42

You can discover more about prayer by using a Bible subject search, a Concordance, or going to Bible Study Tools.com or Biblegateway.com.

6 Steps to Begin Your Prayer Closet Moments

Begin in a place that is quiet at a time when it is best suited to do so. If needed, set a reminder for yourself to prepare and begin. Your space should be simple and quiet, away from noise and distraction (Matthew 6:5-6).

Always reflect on His nature and His works, then share that with Him. Always keep in mind who God is and who is not. He is not a heavenly Santa Claus to whom we bring our wish list. This helps us stay focused on who God truly is. Praise Him and give thanks to Him for who He is (1 Chronicles 16:34).

Keep a journal of what you share with Him and how He responds. When you hear from Him, you will eventually recognize His voice and write down His responses to you (John 10:27). Write down what happens to your prayer requests. If you receive an unexpected answer, ask Him about it. Eventually, you will either have peace, or He will share why He answered the way He did.

Consider Scripture passages He brings to you during this time. If a Scripture passage comes to mind, maybe you should echo it back to Him because He has a purpose in bringing it up to you. Find out what He wants you to do with it. Maybe it’s for someone He wants you to share it with. Perhaps it is only for you and the situation in which you pray.

Confess any sin issues that may block your prayers. Do you feel like your prayers stopped at the ceiling? Ask Him to reveal what is in the way between you and Him. He will show you what it is. You must change your life to remove the roadblock to your prayers (1 John 1:9).

Remember to thank Him for what He has done and will do. Give thanks to the Lord for His goodness and what He has done for you (Psalm 118:1). Give Him proper credit for His work in your life and those around you (Psalm 29:2).

May God bless as you grow deeper in your relationship with God through prayer.

For further reading on the subject of prayer:

1.  Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home by Richard Foster

2. Prayer by E.M. Bounds

3.  Pray Big by Alistair Begg

 4. Prayer: The Ultimate Conversation by Charles F. Stanley

5. The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie O Martian (Praying Mom, and others in this series)

6. books on Prayer by C. Peter Wagner

7. books on Prayer by Dutch Sheets


Celebration of Discipline, Revised Edition by Richard J. Foster. p.p. 33-46. Copyright 1988 by Richard J. Foster. Harper Publishing Company, San Francisco.

Note: This encore post appeared on Totally Fit 4 Life’s website in 2014. It is based on Richard J. Foster’s study Celebration of Discipline. This practice is the second internal spiritual discipline, while meditation is the first. If we can discipline ourselves spiritually, our emotional, physical, and social aspects will undoubtedly become more disciplined.

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