Growing in Prayer
December 1, 2022 | Monty Waldron
What would you say if I offered to pray for you?
I’m guessing you would say, “Sure!” And you would probably have at least one prayer request that immediately popped into your mind.
Now let’s flip the script. What if I asked you about your prayer life? Is it thriving? Vibrant? Fruitful? Or is it Anemic? Erratic? Perhaps even non-existent?
I am deeply moved by the thought that someone has prayed or is praying for me. There aren’t many things that encourage me more. And yet, maintaining a consistent and fervent prayer life for others can be among the more daunting aspects of my journey with Christ.
You would think praying would be one of the most natural things any of us would do. But aren’t there seemingly endless obstacles that stand in the way of a life saturated with prayer?
Here are a few off the top of my head that all start with “D”...doubt, discouragement, distraction, division, disobedience, distress...That’s just one letter of the alphabet!
If you can relate, give me an air bump and keep reading. The fact is, we can all grow in our praying, and there are few pursuits in life that God seems to want more for us than our conversing heartily with him.
If Paul urged the Ephesians, Colossians and Thessalonians to persist in prayer (Eph 6:18, Col 4:2, 1 Thes 5:17), it must also be important for us. And wouldn’t it be strange for God to command something without enabling us to fulfill it?
Over the years, I’ve come across a few helps that have made a real difference in my prayer life.
The first is a simple phrase, “Truth is our friend.” We can always be honest with God—he can take it—and he always knows the truth whether we’re willing to put it into words or not.
The second is to keep it simple. Using lots of words, or fancy words, or repeating the same words over and over again doesn’t upgrade our prayers. Jesus offered his disciples (and us) a beautiful template to start with, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name …” (see Matthew 6:7-13).
The third is to praise and thank God as much or more than you ask him for stuff. It is so tempting when we pray to approach God more like our personal genie than as our glorious, holy, loving and wise Father. Knowing and praising God for who he is and what he is like does wonders for our faith.
Fourth, learn to recognize the “voice” of God in the pages of Scripture. The Bible is our final authority when it comes to God “speaking” into our lives. It is where we go to put our thoughts and impressions of God’s will and ways to the test. He will never contradict his word.
Finally, read a good book about prayer. Here’s a great list to choose from! A Praying Life – Paul Miller; A Call to Spiritual Reformation – D.A. Carson; With Christ in the School of Prayer – Andrew Murray; Answering God – Eugene Peterson; Prayer – Timothy Keller; Praying the Bible – Don Whitney; Wasting Time with God – Klaus Issler; The Valley of Vision – ed. by Arthur Bennett.
So often, we approach prayer as a transaction—a business deal with God—rather than as an intimate conversation with the Lover of our souls. Did you know that our prayers are so precious to God that he keeps them? The Apostle John was shown a scene from the end of time where golden bowls are said to be “full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.” (Revelation 5:8) How about that! The Lord delights in our efforts to commune with him.
Though I have a long way to go, I can say that I love talking with God in prayer as much now as I ever have. This is because I know that he is listening, I know that he cares, and I’m confident that he longs to guide me into all truth. Like anything, the more of it we do, the more comfortable and competent we grow.
Let me encourage you to take advantage of some great upcoming opportunities to engage in prayer with our community of faith.
This Saturday (December 3), groups from our church will be meeting at locations around our city for a “Love Your Neighbor Prayer Walk.” It’s a perfect opportunity to go to God in prayer on behalf of our city, and grow together as a praying community.
In January, we will be joining six other churches in Murfreesboro for 40 Days of Fasting and Prayer (more info soon!). There will be loads of equipping and encouragement around two crucial practices that lead to spiritual maturity and fruitfulness.
Wherever you are on your journey in prayer, I hope you’ll join me in taking a “next step” as a man or woman of prayer. Know that I will be praying for you in this regard, and I hope you’ll do the same for me.