A Deeper Look At Prayer Part 3
By Benjamin ‘Raven’ Pressley
Prayer’s most basic definition is talking to God. But, ah, it is so much deeper than anything human beings can define. Prayer is the very lifeblood of the Christian but is sadly the least emphasized or it is taught as just a way to get something from God. As blood is to the body, prayer is to the spiritual man. It carries away impurities, fights spiritual diseases and furnishes oxygen to our spiritual minds. Prayer tears down walls between you and God. It heals our spiritual deafness so we can hear the voice of God.
Prayer is the loftiest, most privileged thing you can do. It is where the power comes from that anoints the ministry God has given to you. “It is not by might, not by power, it is by MY Spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts.” (Zechariah 4:6). If a singer sings and doesn’t pray they might as well be singing secular music. If a preacher preaches and doesn’t pray he is just a public speaker.
There is nothing wrong with asking God for something (James 4:2) but prayer is so much more than that. Go before God when you pray in a quiet place. Still your mind (Psalms 46:10, 4:4). Call upon Him. Invite His presence. Take time to just love Him and worship Him. Make your requests known, if you have any. But when you do let them be from your heart. Know that you are His presence. And at times just don’t ask Him for anything except His presence. Thank Him and praise Him for what He has done. Thank Him and praise Him just because He is God. Then, take time to listen. Always take time to listen. Give Him time to speak. This should be how the majority of your prayer time is spent. We truly need to seek His face and desire His presence more than what He can give. For if we seek Him first over what we desire He promises all other needs will be met (Matthew 6:33).
Learn to pray and commune with God from your spirit. If you are born again God’s very own Spirit dwells within your spirit. Let His Spirit pray in your spirit : Romans 8:26-27 says “ Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”. There is an old song that says, “tears are a language God understands”. That is so true. Sometimes you just need to come before God and just let it all out. Groan and cry before God.
What about praying for others? What is your perspective on that? You should actually pray for others more than you pray for yourself. Do you look at others and feel their pain? Do you see a soul that will burn in hell and pray for them like you are the only one standing in the way of them going to hell? Do you see someone sick and pray for them like they were your child even if you don’t know them? Do you pray for the victims of a car accident when you go by one or do you just curse them for slowing you down? Remember all that Job went through in the Bible? He was a wealthy man and he lost everything. But his whole situation changed when he forgot about himself and prayed for others. Job 42:10 says, “And the LORD turned the captivity of Job, when he prayed for his friends: also the LORD gave Job twice as much as he had before.” It is possible to pray like this. It is a place of prayer that God wants everyone to experience. Sometimes the best medicine is to find someone going through what you’re going through and minister to them. Your focus changes. I heard someone say, if you want joy, it should be Jesus first, then Others, then You. Get it? Jesus, Others, You. Take the first letter of each of those and it spells JOY.
Did you know you can feel so burdened for someone that you can almost feel pain for them? Isaiah 66:8 speaks of travail as a woman giving birth. Have you ever prayed, groaned and travailed for a need before God or how about just a need for God? When we enter into this depth of prayer for someone we ‘become them’ vicariously. We pray what they should be praying for them selves but they cannot because they are bound. Daniel prayed for Israel saying we have sinned. He wasn’t guilty of sins he was praying for but he was interceding in their behalf (Daniel 9). Paul said he would go to hell in place of another if that is what it would take (Romans 9:3). Mark 2:1-12 tells about four friends that tore up a roof to get their friend in the presence of Jesus. In that same story in verse 5 it says it was because of his friends’ faith that the man was healed! Moses said for God to blot his name out of the book of life if He did not forgive Israel (Exodus 32: 30-34). If these examples in most cases were, for all practical purposes, ‘strangers’, how much more so should we pray like this if it is our son, daughter, someone we love? Do you know someone that is headed to Hell for eternity? HELL…ETERNITY…Let those two words ring in your ears, pray to God to awaken you to this reality until you can’t help but cry out in anguish to God for them. Have you ever heard of a 1700’s preacher named Jonathan Edwards? He preached one of the greatest sermons ever preached in America. It was called “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”. Here was a man whose eyesight was so bad, though he wore thick glasses still had to hold his sermon notes inches from his face to read them. It is recorded in history though that when he preached this sermon that people began to feel the heat of flames leaping around their feet. They fell off their seats and clung to the pillars that were holding the gallery up — crying out in despair. Did he apologize? I don’t think so! There was a reason for his power and anointing that day, because before he preached, he prayed. Over and over and over again he prayed, “Oh God, stamp eternity on my eyeballs.”
God is not impressed with our many words. Matthew 6:6-8 says, “ But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. 7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. 8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.” God knows what is in our hearts. It doesn’t matter how eloquent your words are when you pray. I have news for you, if it is not from your heart God doesn’t hear you because “for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7). So, be honest before God. Talk to Him from your heart. He already knows if what you are saying is from your heart or just words. So you might as well be honest with Him.
There has been so much unbiblical ‘name it, claim it’ books on the market that it makes me sick. It is not about all the ‘stuff’ we can get. It is not about manipulating God. Sure He cares about our needs. He has said in His Word: “Ask and it shall be given you. Seek and ye shall find. Knock and it shall be opened unto you. “ (Luke 11:9). He knows how to give good gifts to His children (Luke 11:10-13). But this is the main emphasis I wish to put on prayer: How to spend time with God. How to get close to Him. How to get to know him. He so wishes for His people to hear His voice. To spend time shut up with Him basking in His presence. As you spend time with Him He will teach you to pray. And, I dare say, most of our problems will be resolved if we will just spend time in His presence. For it is there He soothes us… it is there He embraces us. Our perspective on what is important is changed in His presence.
Very often we pray it is about receiving an answer from God. Perhaps it is a need, perhaps it is about a loved one, perhaps it is whether we should take a certain job or not. It is important that we define what is meant by an answer to prayer. Sometimes it seems He does not answer our prayers. I believe He always answers prayer if we are willing to wait. That’s right sometimes we have to persevere to get an answer to prayer. Remember the example above of travail? Can a woman giving birth change her mind in the middle of having a baby? Can she just come back later to have a baby when she is in labor? No, of course she can’t and neither can we take a casual attitude about prayer if we truly want an answer from God, if we truly want to see our lost loved one saved. Abraham was 100 years old when God gave him a son (Genesis 18). Nehemiah prayed 3-1/2 months before the king granted him permission to go to his brethren (Nehemiah 1-2). Daniel prayed 21 days, 3 times a day before his prayer was answered (Daniel 10:12-14). James 5:16 says “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” Don’t give up when you pray! Keep on praying and believing!
Secondly, we must understand what is meant by an answer to prayer. His answer isn’t always ‘yes’ and then proceeds to give us anything we want. He is a good Father. He knows what is best for us. Sometimes His answer may be ‘wait’. It could be that there are some things that have to happen before He can give you what you requested. Maybe that job you’re praying for requires waiting for someone else in the company to leave or be promoted. Trust Him when He says wait. He is working on it. David wrote, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (Psalms 119:105). Ever walk down a trail in the dark with a lantern or flashlight? Does it light the whole trail beginning to end? No, it only lights your next step or two. That is the way God leads, one step at a time. If He showed you the plan He has for your whole life and all that we have to go through to get there it would scare us to death! A little at a time though, day by day, learning what He wants us to learn each step: That’s how He gets us where we are going. So, don’t be surprised, in fact, welcome it when He says ‘wait’.
Another answer may be ‘no’. If the answer is no then it is no. God knows best! It could be we are praying for something we know we shouldn’t be praying for, something selfish. Be honest with yourself. Do you really want an answer from God or do you just want Him to give you what you want?
Pray. Talk to God. Spend time with Him. There are so many depths of prayer He wants you to experience, just pray and love Him. The rest will come. He will teach you.
Next study we will get even deeper into what it means to pray. We will learn what it means to truly intercede.