I’m one of those people who have always said that I prefer praise and worship to praying for long periods of time. Now I battle about the etiology of my preference; is it because I can sing OR, is it because of my cultural background and how I have been exposed to prayer. To be honest, I feel like it is a mixture of the two but the latter seems to be prevalent.
The ‘church’ has sometimes taught prayer in the wrong way, mixing culture with the simple instructions given by Jesus in Matthew 6:9-13. Here are a few things I’ve been ill-informed about prayer:
- Effective prayer is dependent on the length
- Effective prayer is about SHOUTING for everyone to hear.
- Effective prayer is about being repetitive, repetitive, repetitive.
- Effective prayer is getting a ‘man of God’ to do the praying for you.
Some, if not all of the points above have made me to see prayer as tiresome and just LONG. Its only recently that I began to understand the true purpose of prayer and ‘how to pray’. My new understanding of each of those points respectively is as follows:
- Scripture does tell us to pray without ceasing. We are to have a prayer life and not a prayer time. I believe this can be verbally and in our hearts and minds as well as our lips. The greatest Teacher known to man, taught His disciples and we the readers to pray with FIVE short verses.
- We do not have to SHOUT for everyone to see. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you, Matthew 6:5-6.
- We do not have to be repetitive! I love the way the King James Bible puts it. But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking, Matthew 6:7.
- I’ll touch on that last point later on, see if you can spot it.
So, now that my understanding of prayer has changed, my next battle is placing its importance and enjoyment on the same level of how I see praise and worship. A sermon by T.D. Jakes really helped me and I have summarised the key points for you all below. Its not long, I promise 🙂
Praise is meant compliment your prayer, it is an accessory to your prayer, however it is not there to replace your prayer! The purpose of praise and worship is to get us into the presence of God, so why not speak to Him when you are in His presence through worship. We are to rejoice and pray with thanksgiving, they go hand in hand. ” And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God…. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed” Acts 16:25-26
1. Prayer empties the heart of your cares. We overload our hearts with cares and worries and we end up calling others to speak to them but we are speaking to the wrong people. We need to talk to God. None but the pure in heart will see God, so to see His plans and purpose for your life, You need to empty your heart before God. Cast all your cares on him!
2. Prayer acknowledges that the answers are beyond your human ability. The very moment you bow your knees and head to the Sovereign God, you know that you don’t need to have the answer to everything, all you have to do is to know who does! It causes you to be humble and accept that you cant do everything!
3. Prayer is essential for making decisions. Why choose to trust yourself who sees only a mile but not trust God who sees the whole journey, Isaiah 46:10. Stop making decisions without God! When you include God in your decisions you are acting out what Jesus said we should pray, ‘Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven’! The will of God is done in heaven, the problem is, it’s not done on earth! Prayer becomes the connector, the hook up between heaven and earth!
Prayer isn’t a monologue it is a dialogue! It’s more important for us to hear what God has to say! This generation has been so arrogant in our prayer, we just want want want! It’s not over when you’ve had your say, God wants to have his say.
4. Prayer strengthens our intimacy with God. Strip down the church building, pastors, choir and see whether your intimacy with God is still there or whether these ‘extras’ cover up the lack of communication between you and God. We get close to people to who are close to God in order to substitute for our lack of communication when we should come boldly to his throne of Grace, to work at our own salvation with fear and trembling!
We don’t need anyone to go before God for us, God sent His Son so that the barrier would be broken, so that we can go directly to Him!
5. Prayer changes YOU. It does not change God. It changes your attitude, situation, perspective, opinions, decisions!
So what do you think? Has your understanding of prayer changed? Do you still need to work on it? I know I definitely do. It is a ‘work in progress’, but I urge you to really see prayer being that communicative tool between you and God. It will help you to know God on a deeper level, you will understand the character of God, and trust me He is incredible.
My prayer for you: I pray that you will gain a greater and true understanding of why it is important to pray and that your relationship with God from now will be one that no one, nothing can ever change. I pray that you will find your hope in Him and that as you speak to Him, you will see your purpose revealed and His WILL, will be done on Earth as it is in heaven. Amen.
God Bless You!