Terry R. Baughman
“He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, … one of His disciples said to Him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples’” (Luke 11:1).
Prayer is a spiritual discipline that must constantly be renewed. While we talk about prayer, believe in the virtues of prayer, and at times practice prayer, most feel they do not pray enough and experience condemnation when someone begins to teach about prayer. Most of us are in the same boat. We feel our lack and seek to find the secret formula for personal growth in prayer.
Perhaps it would be helpful to understand that prayer is merely conversations with God. If you don’t mind when people look at you strangely, you can talk to God anytime and anywhere. We can always discuss our day and communicate our problems to Him. Prayer is more than prepared passages in a prayer book or memorized phrases to recite. Reading prayers or reciting from memory is not all bad; it might be the means of launching us into the habit of prayer. However, don’t stress it if you don’t have an appropriate prayer for the occasion; just talk to God about it!
When the disciples asked Jesus about prayer they didn’t ask Him to teach them “how” to pray, but, “Lord, teach us to pray.” Maybe we should ask the Lord the same question. Many times we know how, but need to learn to do it. Prayer is more than mechanics. It is more than three easy steps to intercession. Prayer starts with a desire to spend time in relationship with God, talking with Him about our everyday lives.
If prayer is a challenge to you, start small: pray for meals, pray for daily direction, pray for Facebook requests. Even quick 10 second prayers count! The important thing is that we begin to include Jesus in our day. It is vital to begin communicating with Him. As we do we will suddenly find that answers begin to come. Prayers are answered that we are hardly aware that we made the request. The need was just a topic of our discussion with God and suddenly He has taken care of it!
Sometimes we are like those in the prayer meeting were they were praying for Peter’s deliverance from prison and certain death. When Rhoda answered the door and saw Peter standing there, the others thought it was a ghost. “It surely can’t be him,” they said, “we were just praying for him in prison!” (See Acts 12:12–17.)
A good acronym for prayer is PUSH: Pray Until Something Happens! When we plan a special time of prayer, sometimes a commitment to longer periods of prayer, we are uncertain how we will pass the time. That’s a good time to remember this acronym. Keep on pushing. Keep on asking, seeking, and knocking. The answer will come, we will find it, and the door will be opened. Just PUSH!
After a time of prayerlessness it may seem especially difficult to get back into the practice of prayer. However, we should not overthink it. Just pray. Just start talking, meditating, focusing on the Lord Jesus Christ, who stands ready to respond to our needs when we come to Him in simple faith. Remember, “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16). Let’s get back to prayer!
“And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up” (James 5:15).