Last week, we covered some basics of prayer – posture, location, speech, etc…This week I want us to look at our words. Does prayer require a specific pattern of words? Are there certain words we should always use? Is there a “prayer format” we should follow? Let’s talk about these questions and discuss the words we offer up to God in prayer.
Prayer is not a “magical” spell or incantation. Putting the “right” words in the “right” order is not going ensure God will grant your requests. As I said last week, God is not impressed with our vocabulary. The words we use in prayer are important, but the condition of our heart when we come to God in prayer is much more important.
I spend the first part of each day reading and studying my Bible and in prayer. Yes, I sit in my “Jesus chair”. During this time of prayer, I tend to pray longer, offering up more intercessory prayer and also a good deal of praise. I always begin by telling God how much I love Him. I thank Him for not only what He has done for me, but I thank Him for who He is – for His very nature. Yes, God knows He is sovereign, righteous, full of mercy and grace, our healer, full of compassion, and loving kindness, but don’t you think He likes to hear it? I think He does. It also works as a great reminder for me about who God is and that I have access to such glory!
Next, I move on to intercessory prayer for others. This changes from day to day depending on my prayer list. Since my daughter has been beating cancer for the past three years, there are always children and families we know from our time at the hospital that top my list. Of course, I pray over our church prayer list as well as others I may know who need prayer. I pray for our church and our church workers, I pray for our nation, state, and local governments, I pray for the staff and school where I worked last year. I just pray over things that I feel led to lift up to God.
I pray hard for my family too. I cover my husband and our marriage in prayer every day. I pray for my daughter. I pray she will always walk in health and wholeness. I pray for her mental, emotional, and spiritual health as well. I pray God would surround her with Godly friends who will be positive influences in her life.
Finally, I pray for myself. I ask God for wisdom. I ask God for forgiveness. I ask God to help me become the wife, mother, and woman He designed me to be. I ask for the Holy Spirit to fill me with the words, thoughts, and actions I need to get through each day. I pray my family be able to fully embrace and follow God’s will for our lives.
A few years ago, my prayers began to feel routine and a bit repetitive. I asked God to help me feel alive and renewed in my prayer life. Soon after, a lady shared with me about using scripture in her prayers. She told me she would find specific scriptures that related to her requests and pray them to God. I began doing it also. Now familiar scriptures flow in and out of my prayers.
Why incorporate scripture? For me, it totally rejuvenated my prayer life. It helped me to incorporate my love for God’s word in to my prayer time. Also, scripture is God’s very word and will, what more perfect words could we offer up to Him than His own? Yes, He knows what the Bible says; He is the author. I believe He loves to hear it lifted back up to Him. His own words coming from a sincere heart has to be pleasing to our God.
Sometimes I open my Bible and read entire chapters aloud over my family or over a situation or a specific need. It refocuses my mind on His promises and His truths. It offers up my requests in a way that I just can’t do on my own. Sometimes I use verses from Psalms to offer up praise and thanksgiving. The words are so beautiful and precious. They flood in my soul in a way my own words never would be able to do.
There are many beautiful prayers throughout the Bible that we can use as examples or offer up as our own prayers. Here’s a link to Five Biblical Prayers you may want to read and incorporate in to your own prayer time http://www.biblegateway.com/blog/2012/05/five-biblical-prayers-that-teach-us-how-to-talk-to-god/
I also offer up many, many prayers throughout each day somewhat “on the fly”. For instance, last night I accidentally put a DVD in our DVD player without removing the DVD that was already in place. Whoops! Needless to say, the DVD player began making a horribly uncomfortable noise. My sweet hubs tried in vain to open the DVD door to remove the discs. While he was fixing our issue, I quietly and quickly prayed that the DVD player would spit out the discs and work perfectly….and it did….Did God directly intervene with my ancient DVD player? I don’t know. I do know that we were able to watch our movie without any further issues.
Praying in that moment was a first instinct. Yes, it was something trivial and my prayer was not very distinguished, but I was thankful that it came as naturally as breathing for me. I utter these types of prayers all day long. Sometimes I have praise and worship verses or songs playing through my head. I consider those a form of prayer as well. They keep my mind focused. They keep my spirit calm and renewed. They keep me in tune with God.
“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” Ephesians 6:18, NIV
Father God, we thank You for the gift and privilege of prayer. It is such a blessing and an honor to be able to come before You at any time to intercede, offer thanks, and lift our requests. Thank You for hearing our prayer and for answering them. Help us to grow in our prayer lives. Show us how to pray so that we can grow in our faith and our love for You. We love You and we desire to become closer to You through prayer. In Jesus’ holy name we pray, Amen.
I challenge each of us to examine our prayer lives. What can we do to grow? What can we do to improve? Are you lacking confidence in your prayers? Ask God for help. Do you need resources on prayer? There are many wonderful books and articles; however, the best book you will ever read on prayer is the Bible. Do a little research and you will find a wealth of scriptures devoted to prayer. Do you have a favorite? I do. I’m very partial to praying Psalms 91 over my family. Dig in and find what you need, then offer it up to God. He’s waiting.