TOOLS OF PRAYER
I would like to share a couple things that John Wesley said about prayer.
- Prayer may be said to be the breath of our spiritual life. One who lives cannot possibly cease breathing....
- ...God’s command to “pray without ceasing” is founded on the necessity we have of his grace to preserve the life of God in the soul, which can no more subsist one moment without it, than the body can without air. Whether we think of; or speak to, God, whether we act or suffer for him, all is prayer, when we have no other object than his love, and the desire of pleasing him. All that a Christian does, even in eating and sleeping, is prayer, when it is done in simplicity, according to the order of God, without either adding to or diminishing from it by his own choice. Prayer continues in the desire of the heart, though the understanding be employed on outward things. In souls filled with love, the desire to please God is a continual prayer....
A few thoughts on breathing. Did you know about the 8 second breathing pattern? Basically it is a full inhale for 3 counts, a full exhale for 3 counts then about a 2 count pause. How about 4-7-8 breathing? Repeat this cycle for 4 times: Breathe in through your nose for 4 counts, hold for 7 counts then exhale for 8 counts through your lips while holding the tongue against the back side of your front top teeth. These are used for relaxation, anxiety relief, and overall to bring in oxygen and bring you back to a place of stability. So, breathing is important and has purpose, right?!
Think of prayer in the life of the Christian in the same way. God breathes life into us. His life giving nature is oxygen to our spirits and as we pray we breathe in the very life of God which leads to renewal and transformation. As you read each attribute below, breathe it back to the Lord through prayer and worship as the Holy Spirit leads.
Attributes of God:
In this next section I would like to reference some wonderful highlights from others that have written about prayer.
RC Sproul, in the power of prayer, wrote about 5 principles to keep in mind as we enter into prayer:
- Reverence & Obedience
- In accordance with the character of Christ
- Mutual Communion with Christ
- Accordance with the will of God
Here are the supporting scriptures, in order, for the five principles:
- John 9:31: We know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is God-fearing and does His will, He hears him.
- John 14:14: If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.
- John 15:7: If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
- 1 John 3:22: and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight.
- 1 John 5:14: This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.
As you may see from the above, there is much more to prayer than what we may truly understand as kingdom people. We often reach out in prayer in times of crisis and need alone and even this is done from a place of emotion based on circumstances. Instead our prayer must come from an abiding life in Him and in keeping His commandments. The article talks about how, in biblical times, a persons character was reflected in their name. So, when we pray in the name of Jesus, really what we are saying is that we are lifting up requests and praise to the throne of God that is in accordance with the nature of Jesus and the types of things he would pray about as well.
When Jesus met the woman at the well in John 4 in verse 10 He tells her that if she knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water. Often times in prayer, we ask for things from God that have already been given to us and we simply need to seek and abide in Him to live out these truths in our life.
For instance, we ask God for His presence but according to Hebrews 13:5 we already know He will never leave us nor forsake us.
Hebrews 13:5 - Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you.”
Psalm 94:14 - For the Lord will not abandon His people,
Nor will He forsake His inheritance.
So, let us not be ignorant about who we are in Him and let us seek to grow in knowledge and understanding with all wisdom and revelation in Him as we abide in Him daily in our thoughts, desires and actions.
I would also like to share highlights from “the school of prayer” by O. Hallesby.
Now, in Luke 18 Jesus was telling them a parable about prayer emphasizing that they should always pray and not to lose heart. Hallesby, writes that, “the Spirit must be given an opportunity to reveal Christ to us every day. This is absolutely essential. Christ is such that we need only “see” Him, and prayer will rise from our hearts. Voluntary prayer, confident prayer. We know that Christ can answer prayer. We know also that it gives Him joy to do so. Prayer and intercession have become a delightful and fascinating means of co-operation between Christ and the praying soul. “
He also says, “Intercessory prayer is like an ellipse, which rotates about two definite points: Christ and our need. The work of the Spirit in connection with prayer is to show us both, not merely theoretically, but practically, making them vital to us from day to day. Comfort yourself with the thought that it is the Spirit who is working these things in your heart every day. It is not necessary for you to strive in your own strength to keep your eyes open to Christ and the needs of the world. No, all you need to do is listen to the Spirit as He speaks to you every day in the Word and through prayer about Christ and your need, and you will soon notice yourself making progress both in prayer and in intercession. “
Consider these main focus points as you move forward in a renewed growth of prayer and praise:
- Humble yourself before the Lord with respect and submission
- Offer prayer that Jesus himself would pray; according to His character
- Linger in His presence and respond joyfully to His communication
- Let Him set the goals and the pace. Abide / Remain / Continue in Him
- Set the desires of your heart upon His ways and His will
- Know what we have and who we are as citizens of God's kingdom
- Always pray, never lose heart, persevere, run your race to win
- See Christ in a way that prayer may rise from your hearts
- Take time to listen to the Holy Spirit who is moving in the heart of your spirit
- Do the work of intercessory prayer as He lays it upon your heart