Working On Your Prayer Life

Prayer hands

I started my summer realizing that my life was almost void of real prayer.  Having been a pastor now for 10 years I have gotten use to praying at every single event under the sun.  Sunday morning services you pray at least 3 times for each and every service, eating a meal – pray, waking up – pray, going to sleep – pray, hospital visit – pray, counseling – pray, weddings -pray, funerals – pray, town-hall meetings -pray, the kids’ fish across the street drowned – pray… you name it, I’ve bet I have prayed at it and I know that pastors everywhere share the feeling.  The problem isn’t the lack of prayer, the problem is my attitude toward prayer.  I know the words to say and I am confident that Jesus will use my prayers in the lives of those around me, but the heart, my heart, behind the words just wasn’t there.  Don’t hear me wrong, I wasn’t fake praying, my words were real and sought after God’s intervention and will.  I am telling you my attitude, my heart, my mind were not fully engaged into pleading to God nor did I really expect God to answer my prayers.

Real prayer fully engages your heart, mind and beliefs toward God the Father.

It is with this lack luster attitude that I started on a journey over the summer to seek out real prayer in my own life… I had no idea what I was getting into.   During the past 3 months I have experiences moments that I have only heard prayer warriors talk about, I have watched God answer prayers, I have felt comfort in times that I would normally would have lashed out in anger, I have watched God embolden others through my prayers, and I seen my prayers become long term prayers instead of instant gratification prayers.  Below I want to give you the 3 most important aspects to prayer that I have learned that you can implement into your prayer life immediately.  Or immediately start your prayer life.

  • Base Your Prayers on God’s Word

On my bucket list, along with many other things that I have no control over, is the desire to be quoted in a sermon, for God to use my words beyond just my own realm of influence.  I quote others all the time, sharing their insights and wisdom.  I was preaching a few weeks ago and I quoted our pastor, who I’ll call Josh, because that’s his name.  He was sitting in the crowd, and I said “Josh said…”  His head jerked around so fast and he stared right at me, waiting for what I was going to say he said.

If you pray God’s Word, your prayers are directed in the same direction God moving.

In scripture, God has given us promise upon promise that are just as true and relevant for us today as they were to those He gave them to.  If we align our prayers with God’s Word we know without a doubt that our prayers are directed in the same direction God moving.

  • Pray Big, Bold Prayers that Honor God

Sad to say, but my typical prayer was usually for something that I should have taken care of already and because I didn’t, it would have taken a miracle to happen.  Not sure God likes answering “rescue me because I’m lazy” prayers.  Throughout scripture, God answers prayers that only He can answer.  If we are praying for something that we can do, why would God answer it?  Go do it!  Dave Ramsey gives us a modern day version of St. Augustine’s quote, “Pray like it all depends on God, but work like it all depends on you.”

God will glorify Himself through your big, bold prayers.

However, when we pray big, bold prayers that only God can answer, God is given the opportunity to glorify Himself through your prayers.  Elijah prayed for a huge fire, Shadrach Meshach and Abednego prayed to be protected from fire, David prayed to kill a Giant, Samson prayed for God to give him strength… on and on in scripture the prayers are big and bold — and then they went to work!

  • Expect God to Answer Your Prayers

After Elijah prayed for fire he built an alter and drenched it with water; Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego got on their knees and prayed to God, not bowing down to other gods and then were thrown in the fire; can you imagine David’s prayer as he gather up rocks to throw at a giant, then he charged the giant; a blind Samson prayed for strength one more time and then started pushing the pillars a Philistine temple.  These men prayed big, bold prayers and then got to work expecting God to answer them.  Step out on your prayers because stepping out on your prayers shows your faith.  Your faith is not in question when you step out on a prayer, it’s God’s reputation that is on the line.  If we are not expecting our prayers to be answered, then what is really the point in asking?  Is it that old answer, “Just ask.  What is the worse that can happen, he says no?”

When you step out on the promises of God, it is God’s reputation that is on the line.

Our God wants to hear from us.  But, I get the feeling though that our prayers seem a bit dull to Him.  Nothing is impossible for God (Luke 1:37).  If that is true, we need to be praying prayers that are only possible for God and then stepping out on those prayers.  Our Father God wants to give us what we ask for, make Him prove it.  Please don’t hear me saying that God will answer each and every prayer you pray the way you want it answered.  However, I do know that God will answer prayers that are rooted in His promises.  It just may not be when you thought.  He may not answer it even in your life time, but He will answer.

 Jonathan Haley Uhrig © 2014

 

***Who and What did I study…  I started in scripture looking at the prayer life of Jesus, David, Paul, Abraham, Moses, Isaiah and Jeremiah.  I then read books by Mark Batterson, Matt Chandler, Kyle Idleman, Charles Stanley, Eric Mason & Tim Keller.  I had a steady diet of sermons by Matt Chandler, Louie Giglio, John MacArthur and John Piper.  Finally I prepared a sermon about bold prayers.  These books and sermons were not necessarily on prayer, in fact most of them were not.  However, listening with an ear tuned to prayer and promises from God, God used their words.  Thank You.

1 Simple Prayer You Need to be Praying Regularly

hands raised

Recently I was asked a question by a youth pastor.  The question isn’t new or revolutionary, in fact I have heard it many times and I have asked it several times while teaching both youth and adults.   He asked me, “Does your life make people want Jesus?”  I thought about that question for a moment and did not respond the way I thought I would.  The answer to the question I think… is no.  Looking at my life, I am not sure there is much of my life people would want.  In fact there isn’t much of any other life I would want either.  So I responded back, “Whose life does make you want Jesus?” and “Whose life would you want?”

Pick A Life

If I was going to pick someone’s life to have it would be a professional athlete.  Are you kidding me, 6’7″, 195 pounds, a 4.4 40,  325 lb. bench press, a .325 batting average and a contract of $20 million for 4 years… any day of the week!  But there is much of even that life I don’t want.  If we turn to the Bible for a life that someone would want, I’m not really sure we find one.  Do you want Abraham’s life, cause being 100 years old with a baby and no home doesn’t really sound that attractive.  How about Noah, talk about lonely.  Isaiah, that’s what we all want to be responsible for – telling everyone of the coming doom.  So how about Daniel?  Don’t forget he was an exile and if the outcome was good or not, he was thrown to the lions!  David, the man after God’s own heart, surely his life we would want.  Don’t forget he ran for his life, lost his best friend and then for the on top of it all would you want to be the example of infidelity for thousands of years?   Peter, though I can relate to both his denial of knowing Jesus and bold proclamation of Jesus and all that he saw, I’m still not sure his life makes me want Jesus… Oh’ yeah, crucified upside down.  Paul? because 2 Corinthians 6:4-10 is exactly what we want for our lives!

but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love;by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true;as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.”     – 2 Corinthians 6:4-10 (ESV)

Only One Life

Truth is there is only one life that makes us want Jesus.  That’s Jesus! (Exclamation Mark)  And His earthly life, pretty sure we don’t want.

Jesus’ life makes us want Jesus.

However, when we look to Jesus on the cross we see God’s Mercy, God’s Grace, God’s Love, God’s Wrath, God’s Forgiveness, God’s Patience, God’s Sovereignty, God’s… We could go one here and all we did was look at Jesus on the cross.  We can see this time and time again in Jesus.  For the rest of the lives in the Bible, they are desperately waiting and in need of Jesus or pointing to Jesus as the treasure of life.  As far as our lives, do they make people want Jesus?  Though nothing wrong with the original question, there may be a better question.  Does your life tell other’ about Jesus?  Do your words point people to Jesus?  We have to remember that we can’t save anyone, we can only point to Jesus.

1 Prayer We Need To Be Praying

So this whole post was about a prayer right?   All of the above goes into this prayer.  This youth pastor I was talking to has a very dedicated prayer life.  He is the guy that when he says that he is going to pray for you, you have no doubts that he is praying fervently for you.  He said, “It all comes down to one thing.   Do you want Jesus?”  For our lives to boldly proclaim Jesus, we must want Jesus in the first place.

“It all comes down to one thing.   Do you want Jesus?”

Recently I have been dealing with some normal but difficult issues and have gotten to the place in my prayers where I didn’t know how to pray any further.  My prayer simply became, “Jesus I need You.”  What I really needed, what we really need is Jesus.  The answer to our prayers is Jesus.  If comfort is what we are looking for, God responds by sending us Himself.  When our prayer is for a miracle to save someone form cancer, God responds by giving us Himself.  When we run out of words to pray, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us and gives us Himself.

I hope Jesus revealing Himself in my life makes you want Jesus.

Our lives have to mirror Jesus and so what we need is Jesus.  We need for Jesus to give us Himself.  No, my life doesn’t make you want Jesus.  I hope Jesus revealing Himself in my life makes you want Jesus.  Only Jesus makes others want Jesus.  Make praying for Jesus to give Him more of Himself a regular, if not daily prayer.

***Shout out to Dusty Fowler, youth pastor at Willowbrook Baptist Church, a roommate, a friend, and a brother,  Keep it up Duck!

 © Jonathan Haley Uhrig 2014