The goal of Discipleship Discipline Three is to develop a regular practice of prayer individually, one-on-on, and in groups.
Prayer is vitally important to your path to discipleship. Prayer is your response to all that God is doing in your life and to His communication with you through the Word of God. Your study of the Bible begins your conversation with God. The Bible is the one and only place we have an absolutely reliable connection to God. God speaks to you through His Word and you answer Him via prayer. To be a true disciple of Christ, this conversation should never stop.
“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NASB)
Every moment of every day should be a continuous dialogue with God. Everything good in your life has been provided by God, starting with your beating heart and your expanding and contracting lungs. Every roadblock and trial that is placed in your path is a chance for you to lean on the power of the Holy Spirit working inside of you and seek God’s guidance. Praise God for both the good and the difficult.
“When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other.” Ecclesiastes 7:14 (NIV)
As a follower of Jesus Christ there is purpose to everything that happens. When times are hard, seek answers in the pages of the Bible and through your communication with God in prayer. There is no reason to tell God how difficult your pain is – He knows. Instead, your conversation with God should focus on seeking His will and finding His path forward.
Praying with others one-on-one and in groups should be a regular part of your communication with God. Not only will your prayers with others expand the voices heard by God, it will also galvanize those present into a shared commitment to seek God’s guidance. A common mistake made when praying in groups is speaking words meant for the ears of those listening rather than God. Stay away from making statements in your corporate prayers designed specifically for those in the group to hear. Prayer is a conversation with God and every word you utter should be directed to Him.
“And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.” Matthew 6:7 (NIV)
God knows your prayer before you even begin. There is no need to go on and on with endless detail. Get to the point. Wait patiently for God to respond. Spending some time in silence after you pray is a good way to demonstrate to God you are totally depending on Him. Trust that He hears your prayer and listen to His response with an open mind – be ready to change direction if His answer indicates the need.
“Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few. A dream comes when there are many cares, and many words mark the speech of a fool.” Ecclesiastes 5:2-3 (NIV)
Keep in mind we do not always know what it is we are praying about. We may be praying about our finances when God knows our finances are not the problem. Our problem could be our lack of willingness to truly follow God’s direction. This could indicate a problem with faith rather than finances. God knows how to get to the root of your prayer and answer in a way that best serves His plan for your life. God is fully aware of the larger context of your life here in this world and on through eternity. A moment of pain in this life could be precisely what is needed to prepare you for a mission God has planned for you somewhere down the road. Speak to God in plain language and then be prepared for a completely unexpected response.
“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.” Romans 8:26-27 (NIV)
Lots of books have been written about prayer but there is none better than the Bible. Prayer is as individual as your fingerprints. How you speak to your Father in heaven is completely dependent on who you are and what your relationship with Him is like. No one can tell you how to pray – it is your personal choice. If you’re confused about prayer, turn to the Word of God for guidance. In the end, the best way to develop your ability to pray is to sit down in a quiet place with God and begin to talk to Him, with a clear understanding of who He is, and a humble understanding of who you are.
“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” Colossians 4:2 (NIV)
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