Life-Changing Prayers

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“God listens to those who are godly and who do His will.” – John 9:31

Prayer is a mystery to many of us. Why pray if God already knows what we need? Or, if we do pray, why don’t our prayers get answered? There’s no formula for effective praying, but today I will share some insights others have given me that may be helpful to you, too.

Sitting: Prayer is our response to God’s invitation to be with Him. He wants us to come confidently, joyfully, consistently, knowing we will always be welcomed. So let’s not barge into His presence brashly asking for things. First, we just sit for awhile, enjoying the pleasure of His company.

Confessing: We often will find thoughts coming into our minds during this time about things we do that hurt Him. We have to be willing to give up anything that blocks friendship with God. He knows we will never be perfect, but He requires that we acknowledge our sin and commit to being better. When we confess, He always forgives, makes us clean, and gives us strength.

Asking: Now we are ready to tell Him our troubles, pray for others who concern us, and ask Him to answer as He wishes.

Listening: Then we quietly wait for any message He may give. Sometimes it is a direction or an idea. At other times, a sense of peace, contentment, or joy. Listening, though, is the best part of prayer. Let’s not hurry away without hearing what He may have to say.

Now we are ready to face our day:  refreshed, clean, calm, energized, and prepared to serve Him and others. Let the adventure begin!

“God’s presence calms your spirit, gives you restful sleep, and quiets your mind. But you must give yourself completely to Him.” – Francois Fenelon

 

Freedom

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“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” – Galatians 5:1

Feeling like there is too much to do? Too many loose ends? Lots to worry about? There is a spiritual exercise helpful to me when I am feeling that way and I thought it might help you, too.

I begin to tell God my concerns, and He invites me to lay them down one-by-one. They became an imaginary pile beside me. Then I see myself walking toward Him, leaving the pile behind. I see it getting smaller and smaller as I move closer to Him.

I sense God’s pleasure as He has my complete attention. Just the two of us – lots of smiles, joy. I know I am free, lighter, less serious, more transparent, and I can sense His response, “I have redeemed you so you could be free from bondage to your own desires, from pleasing others, from feeling burdened or stressed. Live lightly.”

Then I go on in my prayer time, honestly sharing my heart and my needs, interceding for others as He calls me to do. Turning to go back, I see in the distance the things I laid down. As I get closer to the pile, I realize that I must be very careful what I choose to pick up again. Much of it I will simply leave in His hands. God has made us free. Free to be His.

“In almost everything that touches our everyday life on earth, God is pleased when we’re pleased. He wills that we be as free as birds to soar and sing our maker’s praise without anxiety.” – A. W. Tozer

 

A Very Short Prayer

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“The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” – James 5:16b

Lazarus was sick. His sisters were worried, maybe even frantic. They sent word to the One they knew could help – a simple message, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”

Why is this such a great prayer?

First, it relied on Jesus’ relationship with their brother. They didn’t doubt Jesus’ deep love for Lazarus.

Second, they didn’t tell Him how to answer. They seemed to know He would do the right thing. They grew anxious waiting, but when Jesus did respond, His action in raising Lazarus from the dead was beyond their wildest imaginations.

Do you have a friend or family member you want to pray for today? I do.

What if we simply picture that person in our minds and say something like this: “Lord, this one whom You love is sick” (or depressed, angry, lonely, in need, hurting).

Then let’s pause for a few minutes in God’s presence reflecting on the pain of the person we are praying for and consciously trusting God’s extravagant love for him/her.

Allow God to assure you that He will answer in a way that will meet this person’s deepest, perhaps unexpressed, needs.

A prayer like this is effective for these reasons:

  • Empathy:  We enter into the suffering of the people we pray for by holding them in our minds as we call to Jesus on their behalf.
  • Belief: We exercise open-ended faith by entrusting them to Jesus’ care without telling Him how we think He should answer.
  • Expectancy: We enjoy time in God’s presence and then walk in anticipation as we wait for Him to respond.

“Make me so obedient to Your Spirit that my life may become a living prayer, and a witness to Your unfailing presence.” – Martin Israel