The Discipline of Prayer is a topic that is key to a healthy relationship with Christ, but can always be improved. We are always so busy and it’s hard to find a healthy chunk of time to spend in prayer. I want to challenge you to think of prayer as not only essential, but constant.
Paul connects prayer with the armor of spiritual warfare in Eph. 6:18. “praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,” Out of this verse, we draw five helpful principles of being disciplined in prayer.
I. Pray in the Spirit
The first principle is that we should be praying in the Spirit. I’ve often sailed over that phrase without giving it much thought. How do we pray in the Spirit? We are not talking about the gift of tongues here, but rather how every believer, every day, is to rely on the Holy Spirit to empower our prayer lives. The first way this happens is to allow the Holy Spirit to tell us what to pray for. This means we pray to be told what to pray for!
In our small minds, we may not know what to pray for or how to pray. So rather than settle for a weak prayer life, let’s ask the Holy Spirit to reveal and direct our prayers. As He does, our hearts are being transformed so we can see God’s heart for prayer.
The Holy Spirit empowers us is by giving us strength and energy to pray. Prayer takes work. It takes discipline. It takes the power of the Holy Spirit. We are often ineffective in prayer because we are attempting to pray from our own power. The very act of prayer is to acknowledge that we do not have the power and ability. Today, ask the Holy Spirit to put on your heart what to pray for.
II. Pray ALL The Time
The second principle of prayer from Eph 6:18 is that prayer is to be continual. Paul says that we are to be praying “at all times.” 1 Thes 5:17 says, “pray without ceasing.” Again, the question is how? Do I stop working, driving, eating, and sleeping? The prayer called for here is not so much the articulation of words as the posture of the heart. We are always looking up for guidance. We are always conversing with God as we go about our daily duties. Praying continually is a mindset that always sees our need for God in everything we do.
There is nothing that we have “mastered” so that we do not need God. “We are to have a perpetual inner dialog with God. We must always be looking up, even when driving to work or mowing the lawn.” I long for this, but I get distracted. Lord, make my weak heart constantly converse with you.
III. Pray in Different Ways
The third prayer principle is “Varied Prayer.” We are to pray all kinds of prayers in Eph 6:18. Different circumstances and situations will require different kinds of prayers. There are times to pray prayers of worship. And there are times to give thanksgiving. Other times are for petitions and times to pour out our hearts and grief to God. Don’t get into a rut in your prayer life!
IV. Be Persistent in Prayer
The fourth principle is “Persistent Prayer.” Paul says to keep on praying, to have perseverance. “There is a mysterious efficacy to persistent prayer.” We may not know how or when God chooses to answer persistent prayer, but we know He has commanded it and will respond to it. My children are convinced that perseverance will help Daddy answer their requests. For me it reveals my impatience that God is refining, but for God, it is a testament to our reliance and trust in Him.
Men, do we pray with Scriptural persistence for our families? For the Church? Are there individuals, groups, causes, souls for which we hold up our hands in prayer? There ought to be, for God answers persistent prayer. Don’t give up men. We have seen souls come to Christ that have been prayed for for many, many years. God’s timing is perfect.
V. Pray For Others
The final principle is intercessory prayer. Paul says to pray for all the saints. Other believers are to have a large part of our prayers. It is easy to think of prayer as our own personal wish list and treat God as our Santa Claus. We counter this as we pray for others and their needs, when we pray for blessings for others. We show our love for each other when we find ourselves constantly on our knees doing spiritual battle for brothers and sisters in Christ.
This births a logical question, how can we be disciplined in our prayer lives? The first thing we should do is to keep a prayer list. With every year that goes by, I am more and more dependent on lists to remember things. Prayer is not any different. Not only does it help us remember, but it helps to keep us on track. When our minds wander, the list brings us back to being disciplined in prayer. You might use a sheet of paper for this, or 3×5 cards. I use an Excel spreadsheet and keep information like the date of the request and the answers I see to the requests. Do what works for you, but find a way to keep a list.
There is More…
Other practical tips include finding a place where you can have some quiet time and not be disturbed. These are key! I cannot have an effective prayer life with three little ones climbing all over me. The answer for me is not to try to pray with them running around, but to find a quiet place and time. That might mean getting up early, or staying up late. Find what facilitates prayer for you and do it. Whatever it takes, do it!
Don’t forget that the fact is that prayer is spiritual warfare. As such, it takes work and diligence.
“We must never wait until we feel like praying – otherwise we may never pray, unless, perhaps, we fall headfirst into an open well. The context of Paul’s charge in Ephesians 6 is spiritual warfare – and that is what prayer is! Christian men face the world – and fall on their knees. Work and war, war and work – these are the words we must keep before us if we are to become men of prayer.” – Hughes
Men, I end with a couple of questions. How can we help each other persist in prayer? and What can I intercede with God Almighty for on your behalf? We are men of Destiny and men of prayer.
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