Dallas Willard says,
“Prayer is talking with God about matters of mutual concern.”
Simple. Basic. But how do we go about doing prayer?
Prayer begins with ATTITUDE. No matter how many times or ways you pray, if your attitude is not to acknowledge that God is God, prayer is useless.
Prayer’s one goal is CONVERSATION WITH GOD.
- Earliest Christian prayer was taught to pervade a person’s whole day and every part of their life – to “pray without ceasing” in 1 Thessalonians 5:17.
- There are many methods with acronyms like ACTS that remind us to Adore, Confess, Thank and Supplicate.
- Written prayers help us focus on truth . . . especially when we’re praying scripture.
- Praying in groups and praying in solitude each have great value.
- In Equip Her, we like to focus on Upward, Inward, Outward prayer
Here’s a more modern idea from Amena Brown – a spoken word poet. https://vimeo.com/37668686
Jesus gave us a lot of HOW-TO’s on prayer. He modeled his own rhythms of prayer, as well as giving verbal instruction to his followers.
Jesus always acknowledged God as God in prayer so we know it’s much more than a need-based reaction; it must be based in a desire for relationship with God.
Because he longed to be with the Father, Jesus prayed in seclusion:
- Luke tells us– “But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.” 5:16
- He prayed before his anointing for public ministry. (Luke 3:21-22)
- He also prayed an entire night on a mountain in preparation to call his disciples. (Luke 6:12-13)
And He prayed in the presence of others:
- He prayed before dividing the loaves and fishes to feed 5,000. (Luke 9:16)
- He prayed on the mountain where his appearance was transfigured from human to glorious. (Luke 9:29)
- Jesus offered praise to God when the disciples returned from their mission trip in Luke 10:21-22.
Luke records the prayer of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, with specific instruction that Jesus gives his disciples about prayer:
Luke 22:39-46 (NASB)The Garden of Gethsemane
39 And He came out and proceeded as was His custom to the Mount of Olives; and the disciples also followed Him. 40 When He arrived at the place, He said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.”41 And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and began to pray, 42 saying, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” 43 Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him. 44 And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground. 45 When He rose from prayer, He came to the disciples and found them sleeping from sorrow, 46 and said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not enter into temptation.”
It was certainly a prayer of deep desire and acknowledging God as God by relinquishing his will to the Father.
Jesus also told us what to EXPECT in prayer.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you.” John 16:23b
“Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.” Mark 11:24
“So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened.” Luke 11:9-10
We can expect to be heard and receive a response. Prayer is a conversation between us and a God who calls us his children, longs for us to know him, and delights in our relationship.
How were the prayers of Jesus answered?
Some were answered with a “Yes” in miracles and blessings. Others received a “Later” like the one He models for us even now as He intercedes for us. And one specific one in the Garden was answered with a “No.” The cup did not pass from him, but He lay down his life for us all
I like what Philip Yancey says about our expectations for prayer:
For most of us prayer serves as a resource to help in a time of testing or conflict. For Jesus, it was the battle itself. Once the Gethsemane prayers had aligned him with the Father’s will, what happened next was merely the means to fulfill it. Prayer mattered that much. In the words of Haddon Robinson,
“Where was it that Jesus sweat great drops of blood? Not in Pilate’s Hall, nor on his way to Golgotha. It was in the Garden of Gethsemane, There he ‘offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the One who could save him from death (Hebrews 5:7) Had I been there and witnessed that struggle, I would have worried about the future. ‘If he is so broken up when all he is doing is praying,’ I might have said, ‘what will he do when he faces a real crisis? Why can’t he approach this ordeal with the calm confidence of his three sleeping friends?’ Yet, when the test came, Jesus walked to the cross with courage, and his three friends fell apart and fell away.”pg 86-87, PRAYER: Does It Make Any Difference?
What would your battle cry in prayer sound like today? Could you acclaim, “God is God”? Would you have confidence to say “I am heard”? Or maybe “Jesus, Help!” is the first thing on your lips. Whatever your cry, be assured, He hears.