I reached a point where I felt I was ineffective in prayer. One of my goals for 2013 was to increase my prayer life, but the moment I sat down with God to “pray” I was usually at a loss for words.
One day as I was reading the Bible God took me to the passage in John where some of disciples had been fishing all night, but they had not caught anything. Jesus came and told them to go back out, cast their net to the right, and try again. Lo and behold they caught a ton of fish. (John 21:2-6)
This story helped me to realize that in order to increase the effectiveness of my prayer life…like the fisherman…I needed to go back out, cast my net (prayers) the right (God’s) way. It was not that I was ineffective as a person, but my technique needed an adjustment.
1. Give it Right Back to Him.
As a parent I love when Aiden receives my advice and offers it back to me during a discussion. For instance, when we’re riding bikes he’ll remind me how important it is to look both ways and pay attention to his surroundings. I’m so proud of him for listening and applying my advice. I want to reward him…maybe it’s just a high-five or “I’m proud of you” but, either way it makes me smile. God is same way. He wants to know that we’re listening and applying His advice (His Word). When we include His Word in our prayers we forsake our selfish and shallow nature by drawing on the depth found in His Word.
“It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.” Isaiah 55:11-12 (NLT)
2. Remember the “Sandwich.”
I remember learning a correction technique a long time ago. They started with a compliment, progressed to the critique, and ended with a compliment. I took a similar approach to my prayer life, but instead I choose to PRAISE-REQUEST-PRAISE. I praise God for who He is. I praise God for gifting me with His Spirit. I follow my praise with my request. Then I end with praise and I thank Him in full faith and confidence for the help He will provide. Overwhelming circumstances tend to drag us to our knees so I have found that praising God really lifts my spirits because it reminds me of who He is and it affords me perspective during a time when I could easily allow my spirit to be troubled.
3. Use Your Resources
I love my concordance at the back of my Bible. If I am struggling to maintain my peace I scroll to the word “peace”, locate all the scriptures that relate, and then WRITE down my prayer. I have a hard time reciting scripture off the top of my head so by writing my prayers down I can ensure that when I sit before God I’m praying His word, praying for the individuals I’ve said I would pray for, and proactively praying for changes I hope to see. There are a number of useful websites and devotionals that also aid you in cultivating your prayer life.
4. In Faith and Unceasingly
Believe that you are in full agreement with God’s will for that area in your life because you have prayed His Word and believe that He will work to cooperate with you. That’s how you stay in faith. You may not see an immediate change, but God tells us to pray unceasingly. So, continue to pray that prayer until you see the change you desire.
“And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek Him.”Hebrews 11:6 (NLT)
Keep in mind that this works for me. Allow His Spirit to guide you as you seek to cultivate your prayer life. I keep all my prayers in a small journal and some prayers are based on a “topic” while others are based on an “individual.”
This is one of my personal prayers…
Thank you Lord for being my light and my salvation (Psalm 27:1). You are amazing and I love You. Search me and know my heart. Test me and reveal my anxious thoughts. Shine light on everything in me that offends you and lead me along the right path (Psalm 139:23). Your word tells me not to worry about anything, but to tell you what I need, and thank you for all you have done (Phil. 4:6). So, thank you. Humble me and lift me in honor (1 Peter 5:6). Your word tells me I can give you my cares because you care for me (1 Peter 5:7). Help me to do that. Ease the performance anxiety that stems from pride, people pleasing, self-serving motives, and dead works. Please restore, support, strengthen, and place me on a firm foundation to do the work you have qualified me to do (1 Peter 5:10). Thank you for using me. I love you for who You are and I thank You for You are doing within me, around me, and through me.
In Jesus Name. Amen.