“Pray without ceasing,”
These past few weeks have been spent ensuring we have our hearts and minds prepared for the pursuit of being Christ-like. We have discussed the importance of training for godliness (see 1 Tim. 4:7-11), we have centered ourselves in the gospel, knowing it is our only source of godliness, and last week we discussed that our proper posture before God is one of complete submission to his will (the essential attitude of godliness). We are now finally diving into the disciplines themselves, starting with prayer.
Do you think of prayer as a discipline? As something that requires deliberate work and training? Many of us don’t, and that may be our biggest problem. We often take prayer way too casually for what it is. Prayer is a gift to us that came at a great cost. Hebrews 10:19-20 tells us that we are able to “enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh.” For this reason we are able to “draw near” to God (v. 22). We are allowed to stand before God in prayer because Jesus gave up his own blood. So, allow prayer to flow continually, but never take it lightly.
We need to realize that a healthy and effective prayer life takes great discipline. I think many of us would readily admit that we should be spending more time in prayer than we currently do (a sign we are un-disciplined). How do we make this happen? We plan for it and make it habit. We know we are commanded to pray in God’s Word. First Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to “Pray without ceasing” and Ephesians 6:18 tells us to be “praying at all times in the Spirit”. So we should be having a continual heart communication with God throughout our day. This is the result of a Father-daughter relationship so close that he is the one we turn to all day long to adore, worship, ask for strength, and seek counsel from. However, there also needs to be times of deeper connection and dedicated attention given to God.
Instead of squeezing prayer into our already full days or using whatever time we have “leftover,” we need to be giving God the best times of our day. Plan ahead and decide when you will spend devoted time with God. Are you at your best in the morning? Spend time connecting with God then. Do you find yourself with energy in the evening when everyone else is in bed? Pray then. Or whenever it is you are best able to connect and engage. Plan ahead for prayer time and give God the best of yourself.
Devoting yourself to prayer time will be more difficult in different stages of your life, but do the best you can. God understands your situation because he gave it to you. If your prayer time happens while changing diapers and feeding babies so be it, but don’t give up because you can’t “escape” for a few minutes alone. For those of you who simply have full schedules with activities or obligations, it is time to cut loose some of these from your schedule. Prioritize spiritually with God, not with the world.
Put the effort into your prayer life. There is nothing more amazing than communicating with God Almighty. Use the time to adore him, telling him what you treasure about him. Use the time to put forward your requests and for interceding for others. Keep a prayer list (a real one, not just one in your head) so you can remember to pray specifically for needs and give praise for seeing prayers answered.
The ultimate key to praying more is to be in the Word more. The more you know your Lord, the more you trust him and adore him. Your heart will desire to commune with him as often as possible. Prayer will be empty without first allowing the words of God to abide in you (John 15:7).
Prayer is a great gift of sanctification to us. We are not blessing God with our attention; he is blessing us with his. In the book, Disciplines of a Godly Woman (the book we are following for this blog series), author Barbara Hughes gives a quote from E. Stanley Jones, a missionary and man of prayer: “If I throw out a boathook from the boat and catch hold of the shore and pull, do I pull the shore closer to me, or do I pull myself closer to the shore? Prayer is not pulling God to my will, but the aligning of my will to God’s will.” Prayer therefore is not about getting God to meet our needs or do what we ask of him, but a spiritual bending of our will to his. A mighty tool for sanctification and holiness, exactly what we are pursuing!
Women, prayer is your lifeline to your Father in Heaven who loves you. How exciting that God has made a way for us to connect with him. What a great God we serve! Why not pray and tell him that now.