Welcome to this brand new series here on Grace Nation! I am so excited to be starting this series and I know God will lead it to change lives including my own. So the purpose of this series is to find areas in Christian lives that we tend to get lazy in or take for granted! We need to make sure that we use our freedoms(Not as a nation but as a Christian) we will be diving into an array of different topics and I am excited to be able to bring you this intense new series!
Dear Lord as we begin this series, I just pray that you captivate the people reading, Lord allow every word that is typed to completely reflect your life and Your word. If for some reason something is said incorrectly or not portrayed correctly Lord I pray that those things would fall to the ground and turn to dust.
“I learned to bow my head, close my eyes, and say all the right words. I could pray quietly and reverently or passionately and intensely. We prayed before meals. We prayed at bed time. We prayed at church. We even attended prayer meetings–gatherings for the specific purpose of prayer. If there was one thing I knew how to do, it was pray.
But too often, prayer often fell somewhere in the “if I can get to it” category of my to-do list. After all, if I didn’t get around to praying today, there was always Sunday.” -Nancy, There is Grace
Has this happened to any of you guys before? I know that in my own life this has happened on more than one occasion, especially when you grow up in the church, I mean we are there every Sunday and usually at least one more time during the work week. So we have plenty of time to “Catch up” on our prayer life, and make up for the time that we missed. I think prayer is a commonly miss-understood practice within many Christian circles which makes it a common misused practice within many Christian circles, and the only reason that I can say this is because I had a misunderstanding of what prayer actually is how it can be used most effectively when speaking to God. I still struggle with it, yes I’ll admit it, however it should be something that everyday we are making an effort to grow closer to God.
In absolutely no way, am I saying that a “type of prayer” is more effective than another, or that one “type of prayer” will wield better results. ABSOLUTELY NOT! However in the Christian walk we should be striving to be growing closer and closer to God, and one way of doing that is through our prayer life and if we do not take time to speak with god or if the time we set for God is not heartfelt or intentional then you will begin to see your faith become stagnant and you will begin to lose sight of God.
Speaking with God is something intimate it is something special and we are so very blessed that the creator of all, the one who is sovereign over every nation, the one who the rocks will cry to, allows us to come to Him in prayer. All throughout the Bible we see prayers that are not half-hearted, we see prayers that poor out everything to God. There are so many examples, I am going to chose Nehemiah’s prayers from Nehemiah 1:5-11
He prayed: “O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even I and my father’s house have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against you and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, and the rules that you commanded your servant Moses. Remember the word that you commanded your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples, but if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there I will gather them and bring them to the place that I have chosen, to make my name dwell there.’ They are your servants and your people, whom you have redeemed by your great power and by your strong hand. O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayers of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name, and give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.”
Nehemiah knew Who he was praying to. This was no obligatory remark, “our thoughts and prayers” are with the suffering people of Judah. He spoke to the God he had known all his life, and in addressing God, he shows his personal familiarity with Him. He was praying to the great and awesome God of heaven, with full confidence in His power to hear, to respond and to guide the work that was ahead. It is evident that Nehemiah is pouring his heart out in this prayer. He is not asking God for a new Bike, or for an A on a test(Not saying you cant pray for these things, but there is a big difference in Nehemiah’s prayer than asking for a bike)
Nehemiah found his joy because his first response was to go to God. When he came up from his knees he was joyful because he knew God was going to complete a work. God ordered his steps and took him through a process to allow Nehemiah to be a driving force to rebuild the walls of his city.
Here are five things we can learn from Nehemiah as keys to intentional prayer. Consider these things in your quiet time with God:
- Take action in prayer with a heart open to God.
- Look to benefit others.
- Take responsibility.
- Focus on a promise.
- Respond with joy.
I was convicted recently while sitting in a small group at Church, as we were wrapping up the discussion we began to share prayer requests to the group. this is how most small groups/Bible studies end. We began sharing, and some pretty heavy things were laid out on the table, dying relatives, divorces, homelessness, and so much more. These were weighty issues that affect the people whom I love! Then we prayed for the requests and we left, and then I went about my week. It was not until the next week when I heard a sermon by the amazing Matt Chandler on prayer. That’s when I realized that all of my really close friends were still going through these trials and I hadn’t prayed for them since the small group, yet I prayed that I would do alright on a test that I neglected to study for. That is when the conviction started, from then on out I was constantly in prayer for my friends and their loved ones, I began to pray intentionally for the ones I loved, just like Nehemiah is praying for Israel the country he loves.
To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive, without breathing.
Lets take a look at in my opinion the most intentional prayer in the entire Bible;
Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. 40 On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” 41 He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” 43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. 45 When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. 46 “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”
There are so many amazing things that take place in this passage however the prat I really want to zero in on is Jesus’ prayer. It is recorded in 3 of the 4 Gospels and it gives me goosebumps everywhere I read it. This is an intentional prayer Jesus is EARNESTLY asking for Gods’ will to be done in the situation even though it is going to cause Jesus some major pain and eventually His life!
Nancy goes on in her article;
If God knows what you need before you ask, why pray? Here’s a hint: It’s all about relationship. God wants to have a relationship with us. Prayer isn’t about checking the box on a spiritual to-do list or bringing a laundry list of needs to God. Prayer is the point of connection with God through which our relationship with Him grows.
So this week I challenge you to connect with God, lay it out there to Him, He is able and ready to respond. Allow God to speak to you in your meditations. Take some time and sit in silence, be ready to hear from God, rest this week. Remember as important as it is to lay out your requests to God, make sure you take some time to listen to God speak back to you. Its a two way conversation ya know. He will speak to you if you take the time and are willing to listen.