When it comes to living the Christian life, I have a problem. I often don’t. I expect to be able to do what Jesus did and live as he instructed, but there is a disconnect. The disconnect is that I expect to be able to perform “on the spot” without having put in the behind-the-scenes work. The reasons pro athletes are so amazing when they are on the court/field is because they have put in enormous amounts of work that no one sees.
In the Christian life we need to life like Jesus did in all his life. We need to have the discipline that he had. This is a blog series focusing on the behind-the-scenes spiritual disciplines that are available to us as followers of Christ to deepen our faith and help us live like our Lord. 1 Timothy 4:6 tells us to “train ourselves for godliness.” The spiritual disciplines are our training.
Spiritual Disciplines – Prayer
Foundational Idea of Prayer
At its root, prayer has this belief: God can do what we cannot do.
“With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” – Matthew 19:26
If you don’t believe that God can do things that you cannot do then you will never pray. One of my frequent prayers to God about my preaching and pastoring is, “God, I’m not able. I’m weak. God, come show yourself strong.” I think God honors this prayer.
Principle #1 – You need to pray.
You cannot have a relationship with your spouse or any person and not talk with them. James 4:2 tells us that we do not have because we do not ask. That’s pretty simple. You need to pray.
Principle #2 – Prayer is private before it is public.
Matthew 6:5-6 – We should focus on private prayer. Maybe your church or Bible group will ask you to pray in public from time-to-time. That’s ok. There’s nothing wrong with public prayer. But the vast majority of your prayer life should be private. God answers prayer that is not for show or for personal gain.
Principle #3 – Be yourself in prayer.
Matthew 6:7-8 -God doesn’t want to hear from a fake you. God isn’t impressed by religious language. God isn’t more likely to answer your prayer if you can just craft the words better or use flowery language.
Principle #4 – Don’t give up.
Luke 18:1-8 – I particularly love verse 1. God doesn’t play hide-and-seek. God answers prayer. Persist!
Principle #5 – Focus on ministry and the spiritual.
Colossians 4:2-4 – We have a tendency to spend the vast majority of our prayer time focusing on physical pains & healing. This is a good thing to pray about. It just shouldn’t be the extent of our prayer life. Paul suffered much physically (2 Cor. 11:16-33), but he asked his churches to focus their prayers on his ministry.
What should you pray for?
- Lostness – both locally and for people groups around the world without the gospel. Also ask God for the boldness to share the gospel with those around you.
- Ministry – your personal ministry and the ministries of your church
- Scripture – pray Scripture back to God. There are numerous examples of this in the Bible.
- Your Spiritual Growth & Life
I challenge you to pray 15 minutes every day. It will make a difference!!!