Prayer is simply intimacy and communion with God. AW Tozer writes, “When I am praying the most eloquently, I am getting the least accomplished in my prayer life. But when I stop getting eloquent and give God less theology and shut up and just gaze upward and wait for God to speak to my heart He speaks with such power that I have to grab a pencil and a notebook and take notes on what God is saying to my heart." These word pound into my heart because prayer is a true time for the intersection of hearts of saints with God’s very heart. In fact, all through the day there should be a habit of 15-20 second connections with our Father for love, grace, power, and guidance. Our heart should be tunes to His presence so that we know His voice and we say, “YES!” The Christian life is a flat out love affair when we begin to practice the presence of God.
I am asked on a regular basis, “Prayer is so hard. How do I do it?” My answer is start praying by the simple prayer of the disciples, “Teach Us to Pray!” Jesus answered this powerful interrogative in two ways. In Matthew 6, in the Sermon on the Mount, He says, “Pray then in this way…” and In Luke 11 after Jesus had gone to a certain place, they asked Him and He said, “When you pray, say…” Jesus unfolds a pattern of powerful prayer. The importance of following a pattern cannot be overemphasized in prayer. Jesus provided a structure that we can follow that can unfold enormous benefits in our prayer life. I have created an online wizard for those who need some structure. The system follows the pattern of prayer that Jesus gave us. The site is at http://www.theultimateonlinesystem.com .
Before we dive into the meat of the pattern of prayer in my next article, I would like to make some practical suggestions for your prayer life. First, pray out loud. I have practiced prayer walking and I pray out loud. The spirit of distraction will attack you full on when you pray. Sometimes I command out loud, “Be gone Spirit of Distraction in the name of Jesus and by His blood!” Out loud prayer makes it much more difficult for the enemy to distract you with “vain imagination”. Secondly, pray scripture. The Written Word of God is what the Living Logos (“Word”) uses to clean and sanctify your heart. Finally, take breaks, quiet your soul and listen. In fact, most prayer times before I begin, I pray, “Lord, what would you want me to pray about?” Sometimes God immediately brings someone to mind, sometimes He brings a picture of something, other times something jumps out at me vividly as I walk. One example is that I was on a prayer walk and I was asking God how to pray and two steps later, on the sidewalk, I spotted dried vomit and I prayed God, “Is that You bringing my eyes to that?” A few steps later, I saw, an empty Corona bottle. I once again asked, “Is this You God opening my eyes to this?” A still, small voice said, “Yes, enter into warfare for the spirit of alcoholism reigns in this neighborhood!” I began to pray in the authority of Jesus Christ against the powers of darkness. I rounded the corner and there were several men blasting their music and drinking in the middle of the day. Wow, what a confirmation from the Lord. Now, can you believe that a Sovereign God could lead me to that neighborhood at that time for this war. Think about Abraham.
Remember Sodom and Gomorrah:
And the LORD said, "The outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is exceedingly grave. "I will go down now, and see if they have done entirely according to its outcry, which has come to Me; and if not, I will know." Then the men turned away from there and went toward Sodom, while Abraham was still standing before the LORD.
Abraham came near and said, "Will You indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? "Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city; will You indeed sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous who are in it? "Far be it from You to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike. Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?"
So the LORD said, "If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare the whole place on their account."
And Abraham replied, "Now behold, I have ventured to speak to the Lord, although I am but dust and ashes. "Suppose the fifty righteous are lacking five, will You destroy the whole city because of five?"
And He said, "I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there."
He spoke to Him yet again and said, "Suppose forty are found there?" And He said, "I will not do it on account of the forty."
Then he said, "Oh may the Lord not be angry, and I shall speak; suppose thirty are found there?" And He said, "I will not do it if I find thirty there."
And he said, "Now behold, I have ventured to speak to the Lord; suppose twenty are found there?" And He said, "I will not destroy it on account of the twenty."
Then he said, "Oh may the Lord not be angry, and I shall speak only this once; suppose ten are found there?" And He said, "I will not destroy it on account of the ten." As soon as He had finished speaking to Abraham the LORD departed, and Abraham returned to his place.
Do you catch the interchange here? Abraham feels like a lone ranger before God. God is not looking for numbers, He is looking for a few warriors to stop making excuses and know where the battles are and take back the territory the enemy has come to rob, steal and destroy. Battle needs to be out loud and it needs to be done with the intensity an d passion that we see Abraham pray.
I desire to make a couple of simple observations in this passage. First, Abraham holds God to His compassionate character. He is not afraid to pray, “God, you are not like that or far be it from you to slay the righteous and the wicked.” This is where you cannot lose praying Scripture. “God, your word says that great is Thy Faithfulness and your mercies are new every morning. Lord, I say that about You because You revealed it in Your word.” Do you get the concept? It is powerful. Second observation is a two sided dialog is going on here. Abraham spoke and then listened. This is a simple concept and I can tell you that as you pray and commune with God, He loves to speak so listen.
In conclusion, I want to review my premise: Prayer is simple communion and intimacy with God. There is no greater pursuit for His glory than to pray, it is the connection of the heart of man with the heart of God. Quite simply, it is a heavenly love affair.