Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. And pray for me, too. Ask God to give me the right words so I can boldly explain God’s mysterious plan. Ephesians 6:18-19
I have been praying for almost all of my life. At times, my love for it has waned and in other seasons my passion for prayer has surprised me above all. When I am praying well, I have noticed it has 3 key ingredients.
When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray it was not because they did not know how to pray. Since the second Temple period, devout Jews prayed 3 times a day. What was it about Jesus’ prayers that these men wanted? They wanted his power; they wanted to see in their own lives the power of heaven coming down and changing their world in the same way they saw Jesus banish demons, produce miracles, and ignite hope. In Luke 11, Jesus tells the Disciples to expect the goodness of God. In your prayers, are you expecting the powerful goodness of God or do you have doubts something amazing could happen in your planting context?
We know Jesus prayed a lot. Hours of it. Big chunks of his day and night. He did this often. Amazing. I don’t know how to get behind the mystery of it. But prayer seems to be the physical structure that gets us into the place of spiritual warfare so that we become participants in the battle against darkness. I don’t know how to answer well “If God already knows what I need, why do I have to pray to him at all?” This question assumes prayer is just a communication device. Perhaps prayer has far larger capacities. Perhaps it is the difference between asking someone else to engage an intruder and picking up a weapon yourself. I don’t fully understand. I do understand Paul did it all the time and that is was vital in his church planting projects. How many minutes are you praying a day or a week? Do you have structures that help you pray multiple times a day? Don’t you want to enter into the Kingdom more so the love of Christ can flow through you?
This is to me is the flat out fun part of prayer. We get to pray about anything! Cats, goldfish, colds, cancer, marriage, finances, that grand step of faith – Paul says we should pray about all these things (Philippians 4:6). Many things tend to burden me easily. Specific prayers are here to clear my mind and to prioritize the more specific tasks God has for me today. Specific prayers place bets on the goodness of God for a specific person so that when that miracle happens they too get to know personally and indelibly the goodness of our great God. Are you asking folks to pray for you specifically for your planting needs? Are you rejoicing and letting your neighbors know when your lost coin is found? Are you willing to put God at risk by asking for a specific thing?
When these 3 ingredients are present in my life, I am wonderfully unrecognizable. May you have them in abundance as you pray!