Lies Women Believe About Priorities
Day 4: Time in Prayer
Lie #19 – “I can make it without consistent time in the Word & prayer.”
Did you know that the average evangelical Christian spends only 3 minutes a day in prayer? And evangelical pastors spend 5. There is something very wrong with this.
I think it’s worthwhile to note that there’s a reason prayer and Bible study are called spiritual disciplines. The first is that they are the most spiritual things you can do – and prayer is THE most spiritual thing you can do. Secondly, consider the meaning of the word discipline: “
Unfortunately, we tend to act according to how we feel, so when we don’t feel like doing spiritual disciplines, we don’t. And sometimes we use our lack of emotion to justify our failure, saying it would be disingenuous for us to study God’s word or pray if we don’t want to or feel like it. However, God does not call us to obey Him when we feel like it. He tells us to obey Him, period. You can either serve your emotions or God, but you cannot serve both.
“Don’t pray when you feel like it. Have an appointment with the Lord and keep it. A man is powerful on his knees.” -Corrie ten Boom
Let’s consider Jesus’ example of prayer. Why did Jesus, the perfect son of God, who knew all things and created all things, have a need to pray? Could it be that even Jesus knew the important of spiritual discipline, communing with God, and seeking His direction for His life and His day?
Jesus had some habits when it came to prayer. Let’s look:
After he had dismissed them,
he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray.
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark,
Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place,
where he prayed.
One of those days Jesus went out
to a mountainside to pray,
and spent the night praying to God.
These are just a few of the references to Jesus praying that are found in the gospels. Do you notice a pattern?
- Jesus prayed alone
Corporate prayer is hugely important. Praying in church, praying with friends and family, with a Lifegroup, or any way that you can, is so important. But it can never replace personal prayer. By yourself. Just you and God. Where you stand before Him, open and honest, being real with where you are and where you want to be; expressing your love and devotion to Him; seeking Him and asking for His provision, direction, and perspective. If you don’t do this, none of your corporate prayers will have any effect.
- Jesus prayed early (and often!)
It was important that He begin each day in fellowship with His Father – and it must be important to us, as well. Begin your day with personal worship, open that line of communication, and then you can have ready access to the Father whenever you may need Him throughout the day.
- Jesus prayed late
Jesus not only made a priority of beginning His day with the Father, but also of ending it with Him. Reporting to His Father what He had accomplished, seeking answers, encouragement, direction – this was so important to Jesus that He even forwent sleep in order to spend time with His Father. When’s the last time we missed an hour or two of sleep, morning or evening, to spend time with God?
Clearly Jesus knew something we don’t – there is power in prayer.
“Oh, I know that,” you say. Do you? Does your life show that you believe it? Is prayer your priority? Do you get up early, stay up late, and seek out every opportunity to converse with your Father in Heaven?
Your walk talks louder than your talk talks. And Jesus’ walk showed us that He new the value of prayer – for Himself and for those He ministered to.
“Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?” -Corrie ten Boom
What’s in the way of you taking advantage of God through prayer? Obstacles are meant to be overcome, not to be justification for staying where you are. Make a plan. Choose to believe God and the promises He has offered to us when it comes to prayer.
Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just
and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
-1 John 1:9
And I will do whatever you ask in my name,
so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go
and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you
whatever you ask in my name.
Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us,
we have confidence before God and receive from him
anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him.
-1 John 3:21-22
If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.
For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous
and his ears are attentive to their prayer,
but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.
-1 Peter 3:12
The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and
his ears are attentive to their cry;
The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;
he delivers them from all their troubles.
-Psalm 34:15, 17
The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.
Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence,
so that we may receive mercy and find grace
to help us in our time of need.
I get it — your mind wanders. You can’t stop thinking about what’s next. You can’t focus. And you know what? Your struggle is not new. Even C.S. Lewis spoke of this struggle, and it brings us back to the first point – prayer is a spiritual discipline and it’s the most spiritual thing you can do. In order to pray, you must subdue your flesh. That means being committed to push through the distractions until the distractions are gone. Maybe it will take ten minutes, maybe twenty – the only question is are you willing to pray that long? You can only persevere in prayer if you truly understand the power in prayer. Set a time – and if you run out of stuff to pray for, stay anyway. Let God bring stuff to mind. Give Him the time and He will fill it.
“Prayer is warfare. Just getting there is half the battle. Staying there is the other half.” -Unknown
“Prayer is an effort of will.” -Oswald Chambers
How to pray? Well, first you must pray and ask God to speak to you as you study His word. Then, read until He does. And when He speaks to you, take it back to Him. If there is sin you must repent of, do it. But don’t stay there. When you’ve repented, begin to praise God and thank Him for His work in your life, and as you begin to refocus back to Him, you’ll begin to feel forgiveness, encouragement, and power. Then take the time to pray for your desires – God wants to answer your prayers! Lay your requests before Him and wait in expectation (Ps 5:3)! Then spend time interceding on the behalf of others so that they may see the power of God as well. I say end with intercession because we tend to be selfish, and if we save our requests for the end, we’re likely to rush through our prayers for others. Most importantly, make a prayer list. Keep track of what you’re praying for, and record when God answers. Then share it! Glorify the Father for the good things He has done. If you don’t keep a record, you’ll likely forget.
Are you ready? It’s time to act.
When will you pray? Where? What supplies will you need? How long will you pray? Decide now. Get it all ready to go, so that all you have to do is show up. And then show up. Start. And be amazed.
“Prayer is not learned in a classroom but in the closet.” -E.M. Bounds
Key points to remember:
- Prayer requires the ultimate self-denial.
- Jesus prayed alone, early, and often.
- It is impossible to have a healthy relationship with God without prayer.
- If I truly believe there is power in prayer, I will make prayer a priority in my life.
- I’ve compiled a list of quotes on pray for your encouragement.
- The Kindness of our God
- 30 Day Prayer Challenges are available by Nancy Leigh DeMoss
- Consider reading “EM Bounds on Prayer” – available in paperback or ebook.
In a word: passionate. About Jesus, church, ministry, music, reading, family, friends, and sometimes even iced skinny soy mochas.