Why we need to PRAY!


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I have really been seeking God on what He expects from me and my life with Him. What does God ask of me? How can I live in a way that really pleases Him? One thing I’ve realized is I need to spend a whole lot more time in prayer. Prayer alone with God, prayer with my husband and children, and prayer with other Christians. Prayer for me should be like drinking water. I can’t survive without it and there are noticeable side effects when it’s lacking. When I don’t drink enough water my skin gets dry, my joints get stiff, and I feel more lethargic. And of course the biggest problem… I would die after three days without it. Are many of us Christians spiritually dry, stiff, and lethargic? And even worse, headed towards spiritual death?

I’m afraid Satan gains a huge advantage when Christians don’t pray. So what’s going on here? How did we get to this point? You can hardly read a passage in the Bible without reading about prayer. Whether that’s instruction on praying or a story of someone actually praying and talking to God. I’m not saying this is a problem with everyone, but based on what I’ve seen, prayer is seriously lacking and Satan is gaining some footholds he shouldn’t have. My guess? Satan’s best bet is to keep us from praying. Why? Because we can study all day long and still have no relationship with God almighty. Sadly that’s what many Christians do. Attend bible study, do devotions, read Christian self help books, and listen to sermons, but fail to pray as they should. I’ve been guilty of this at times, have you? These things are good, but done without the same devotion to prayer they are seriously lacking.

After studying and reading what the Bible says it is so clear to me that prayer is absolutely crucial in the life of a Christian. Not just prayer before meals or a quick prayer to start your day. Continual prayer in all circumstances of life. Also, it should be expected that when you are with other Christians prayer happens. And I’m not talking about one person saying a quick prayer for the group. I’m talking about Christians gathering together to pray. Why do I say this? Because it’s what the Bible teaches and we need it to survive spiritually.

ephesians 6:18 tells us to pray at all times.                                                                  “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”

Romans 12:12 tells us to be constant in prayer.
“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.“

1 Thessalonians 5:17: tells us to pray without ceasing.

Colossians 4:2 tells us to Continue steadfastly in prayer.
“Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.”

Jesus told us in Luke 18:1 that we ought always to pray and not lose heart.
“And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.”

Philippians 4:6 tells us in everything let our requests be known to God.
“do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

These passages of scripture make it very clear that Christians are commanded and expected to pray at all times, constantly, without ceasing, steadfastly, always, and about everything. From what I’ve seen, God doesn’t ask us to do something without telling us why. So why is it imperative that we pray at all times, constantly, without ceasing, steadfastly, always, and about everything? The following verses provide insight into the point of prayer.

Psalm 145:18 says “The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” This is so encouraging to me! The Lord is near to me when I call on him in truth. Being near God enables me to walk with Him. If this doesn’t make me want to pray and call out to God as often as I possibly can then I don’t know what will. Prayer allows me to be in the presence of Almighty God. What happens when I don’t call out to God? Is it possible to be near to Him if I’m not calling out to him in truth? Based on this verse I would guess that it’s not. Can I have a close relationship with God if He isn’t near to me? In my experience, when I’m praying like I should my relationship with God is thriving. The opposite is true when I’m neglecting prayer. 

Hebrews 4:16 says “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Through prayer we receive Gods help and mercy. I can honestly say that this is something I need every single day. Why would I choose to neglect the very thing that enables me to receive the grace and mercy of God? Can you even believe that we can confidently approach Gods throne of grace? Do we really understand the magnitude of this truth? If we did, I think we would be at His throne more often than anything else.

Proverbs 15:8 says “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lordbut the prayer of the upright is acceptable to him.” Our prayers please God. How amazing that the God of the universe accepts my prayers? Dwell on this truth for a minute and let it sink in.

James 5:16: “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” We are called to share our struggles with, and pray for, each other! Why? Because we find healing through the power of prayer! We also experience freedom from sin in our lives when we confess it and have other Christians pray for us. The temptation is to keep our sin secret because of shame and guilt. This is exactly what satan wants because he knows the power of confession and prayer. He knows if we don’t confess our sin and pray we will remain in darkness. The second half of this verse is amazing. A righteous person’s prayer has great power and it works! We cannot afford to neglect this. My prayers, your prayers, they are powerful! Why? Because when we pray God draws near to us, and when God draws near amazing things happen! 

Psalm 139:23-34 “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” The purpose of David’s prayer in these moments was for his sin to be revealed and to be lead by God. Prayer helps us get free of sin and allows us to hear God and understand His way. We aren’t always able, or willing, to see our sin. I believe our sin becomes clear the closer we draw near to God in prayer.

Matthew 18:18-30 “Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” Again, when we gather together in prayer Jesus is with us! Think about how amazing this truly is. Not only that, but this verse points to the fact that our prayer is powerful and does not go unheard or unanswered. God may not always answer in the way we expect, but He always hears and responds. This verse also points to the necessity of Christians gathering together to pray. We have to be doing this! And I’m not talking about more programs and entertainment. I’m talking about getting together to pray. To experience the presence of Jesus and his power through prayer. Is this still enough for us? 

If you know the story of Daniel in the lions den then you know that he prayed three times a day. Have you ever wondered why he did this? The following verse Provides a perfect explanation for his daily prayers and it was most certainly not routine or tradition that drove his prayerful actions. Daniel 10:12 says “Then he said to me, “Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart to understand and humbled yourself before your God, your words have been heard, and I have come because of your words.” Think about this for a minute. I have come because of your words. (For the context of this passage please go read the entire chapter. It’s amazing!). What was going on here was incredible. God sent his angel to go to battle for Daniel in times of spiritual attack. Why? Because Daniel, with humility, spoke to God. Believe it or not (please believe it) there is a spiritual war going on around us and drawing near to God through prayer is crucial in battling our enemy. Satan is very real and he wants to destroy you. Gods Word and prayer are your weapons against him. In Ephesians 6:10-18 we learn about the armor of God. It’s no surprise that one of the final verses of the passage says this; “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” We are to be alert and praying on ALL occasions, not just for ourselves, but for all of the Lord’s people.

Daniel did not pray out of habit or routine. He prayed because his heart was set on understanding and humbling himself before his God! Think about this? Daniel’s understanding and humility before his God was even more valuable than his life. He was willing to be throw into a den of lions for it. Am I?

Acts 2:42 says “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” The believers in Acts were devoted not only to teaching and fellowship, but also to prayer. This is repeated in Acts 6:4 when the apostles say “But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” The apostles knew that their ministry would not be effective without devotion to prayer. And what was their main goal? To please God and have an effective ministry. Do I want to be effective in my service and worship to Jesus Christ? Do you? If I really want this then I have to devote myself to prayer, just like they did. Not only were they devoted to prayer, they also asked other believers to pray for them as well. They needed to both pray and be prayed for.

Jesus was our greatest example of prayer. Hebrews 5:7 tells us “In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.” When I read this I can picture Jesus Christ crying out in prayer. Wow. If we don’t think we need to pray constantly we are deceived. Do we have the same reverence to God, the one who is able to save us from death, that Jesus our savior had?  He also, on many recorded occasions, prayed all night, for his disciples, and also for all believers. (Matthew 14:23, Luke 6:12, Matthew 26: 36-46, Luke 22: 31-32, John 17) I Can’t even begin to imagine how often Jesus actually spent time in prayer. If Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was devoted to prayer, how in the world can I expect to live for him if I don’t do the same? To be a Christian is to follow Christ and walk as he walked.

There is honestly so much I could write regarding why we need to pray. I have to shorten it, otherwise this blog would be way too long and nobody would finish reading it. Take some time to search scripture for more on why it is imperative to pray as if you can’t live without it. Also seek God’s wisdom on how to pray. Personally I don’t think there is too much in the Bible on how to pray, you can find guidance here. Prayer is talking to God with pure motives. We over complicate it (as I fear we tend to over complicate everything). My advice, just starting crying out to God in truth. God’s Word and the Holy Spirit will guide you on how you should pray.

How can we expect to live out our Christian life to the fullest if we aren’t praying at all times, constantly, without ceasing, steadfastly, always, and about everything? We can’t. Have you ever been afraid to pray? Have you ever thought, “I’m going to sound stupid?” or What if I don’t say the right thing?” These lies come directly from Satan because he does not want us praying. We have to throw these lies out and start praying. The truth is, as long you are calling out to God in truth with a right heart, your prayer could never sound stupid and is completely adequate before God.

How do we act on what scripture teaches us about prayer?

Start praying about everything. When you start praying to God about everything in your life amazing things happen. It truly solidifies God as Lord and you as servant. I believe God wants us to submit every single request to Him, even small ones, in prayer just like Philippians 4 tells us. Do we paint the people who pray about everything as extremists or weirdos? Claiming that a lot of things we can figure out on our own without bothering God? I’ve often done that myself. Am I saying that Philippians 4:6 is wrong? That I don’t need to in everything with prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let my requests be made known to God? God tells us to bring everything to him. Satan wants us to think we are a nuisance to God. That God doesn’t want us bothering him so much, especially about the small stuff. Guess what? Most of our days are made up of lots of small stuff. Small stuff that God truly cares about. Satan also wants us believing we are in control and don’t really need to bring things to God. Also not true. What would happen if you decided to start praying about everything? Do you think your attitudes and decisions would start to mirror those of God? Do you believe God would be near to you? I mean, have you ever stopped and thought, what does God want me to do today? What is devotion to Jesus? When you choose a life devoted to Jesus Christ it means your life is not your own. We don’t get to just do what we want when we want to. If the thought of bringing everything to God and doing what He wants sounds like a bad plan to us then we probably aren’t devoted to Jesus. Simply put, we don’t do a thing without first bringing it to God, followed by a choice to obey whatever the cost. This is true devotion. I fail so much, but my desire and goal better be to live truly devoted to Jesus or else I’m afraid I’m missing the whole point of being a Christian. I can tell you that when I have gotten this right, and I have prayed about everything, my life has never been more full and beautiful. 

Pray with your spouse if you have one. In recent months my husband has been leading us to do this a lot and it has been amazing. Sometimes we both pray multiple times, other times we both pray once. Sometimes we get on our knees, and sometimes we don’t. There is really no right way to do it apart from calling out to God together in truth. Let me warn you. It feels a little weird at first but it is a beautiful thing and it gets better and better the more you do it. Not only does it draw you closer to God and bring you into His presence, it encourages spiritual intimacy between you and your spouse. This truly requires vulnerability and humility, two things that I believe greatly strengthen your relationship with God and others.

Teach your children how to pray. I seriously cannot say this enough. Teach them how to really pray. How do we do this? First of all we have to pray for them about everything. This teaches them the valuable lesson of bringing everything to God. They will see his power at work when you do this. Instruct them on how to pray. When my little girl gets scared at night first I pray for her, then I tell her what to pray. I want my children to be comfortable talking to God without always having me do it for them. I’m constantly reminding them they can talk to God whenever they want about anything. They also know how to tell Satan to get away. I love when I hear them doing this! The other day my husband told me that my five year old randomly started punching the air and said “Satan’s mean and I’m gonna fight him! I have the power of God and I have Jesus in me. Satan can’t touch me!” One of the most amazing things I’ve ever heard! How does she know this? Cause this is what I’ve taught her to do when she feels spiritually attacked. (Which does happen to children by the way).

When my kids aren’t in the mood to pray I don’t push it. I want their faith to be their own, not something I forced on them. When they don’t want to pray I tell them that’s okay and I pray for them. Let me just tell you this, when they do want to pray, they pray some of the most amazing and convicting prayers. It often blows me away! On her first day of pre-k my daughter was super nervous. I prayed for her and helped her pray and ask God for help. Her day went great! Months later out of nowhere she randomly said to me “mommy, remember when I was nervous about school and I prayed and God helped me?” She was 4 years old and already seeing God work through prayer. Even better, she wasn’t prompted by me to remember this or bring it up, it was in her own heart and mind and came up all on its own. This will nurture her own personal relationship with her God. Children are never too young for this.

Start praying with and for other Christians. This is where God has been convicting me the most. I spend a lot of time each day praying about what’s going on in my life, for my kids, and for my husband, but I’m afraid I have often failed when it comes to praying with and for other Christians. Why? Probably because of selfishness, busyness, fear, a lack of belief in the power of prayer? What is your reason? If you have ever had the privilege to pray with your spouse or a friend over a dark spot in their hearts, that took some serious strength to even share, wow! There is serious power and healing in that prayer. You think Satan wants us Christians getting together to pray? Not just for God to do great things in our church and nation and whatnot, but for God to bring light to our darkness, to heal brokenness, to provide strength in challenges, to bring freedom. A group of Christians praying together telling God how amazing He is and thanking Him for all He Has done and will do. “The prayer of the upright person has great power as it is working”. It’s no wonder to me that praying out loud with others is the biggest challenge I face when it comes to prayer. I have a great friend who I seriously love so much. She has always encouraged prayer together. We would get together for a playdate with our kids and she would end with “hey let’s pray together.” She has always inspired me! I remember I was talking to a friend recently who means so much to me. This friend was sharing some deep deep pain and heartache with me. At the end of the call I said 5 words all of us Christians should stop saying, unless they are followed by actual prayer. “I will pray for you.” In that moment I thought of my friend, the one who inspires me with her prayer, and what she would say. I stopped myself and said “actually, can I pray right now?” What do you think she said? Yes! I was nervous and felt weird to pray on the phone, but it’s not about how I feel. Or how you feel. It’s about obeying Gods Word when it comes to prayer. I prayed over her and it was powerful for both of us. We absolutely need to pray for others in our personal prayer time, but God’s Word is clear that we need to pray with other Christians. I’m ashamed at how many times I’ve said those 5 words when I could have stopped and prayed right then. Jesus would have been with us in those moments ministering to us through prayer.

Another thought, pray and ask God for discernment to recognize when you are under spiritual attack. Once you are able to recognize this happening you can pray against it specifically. Use the authority you’ve been given as a child of God and command satan to leave! I’m telling you, he has to listen. It doesn’t always happen immediately, but if you keep battling he will eventually have to retreat. 

Some people encourage prayer journals and lists and whatnot and that works great for some. I’m not knocking that at all. But for someone like me, lists and journals discourage me a little from stuff because it starts to feel like an assignment. That just doesn’t work well for me and the way my brain functions. What I’m proposing for myself and others who maybe aren’t keen on the journals and lists is to just do it. Just make a decision that you will pray, and pray. Pray alone, pray with your spouse if you have one, pray with your children, and pray with other Christians. Don’t over complicate it or turn it into an assignment. Just start talking to God all the time, about everything.

I’m not interested in convincing anybody to do anything. To be honest, I believe this is a big problem today. So much time is spent trying to convince people to start living for Jesus rather than discipling and building up the people who already want to. So, if you want to live in the beauty of Gods presence and His plan start making prayer a priority. Otherwise, keep doing what you’re doing and don’t expect anything to change. The most important question to ask is do I believe everything the Bible says about prayer? If I do and I choose not to make prayer an essential part of every single day I am choosing to forfeit the fullness of Gods presence, his strength, His help, His grace and mercy, spiritual intimacy in my relationships, and His power working in amazing ways.

Writing this blog has truly convicted me and inspired me to make some changes when it comes to prayer. As I have done this I have seen so much impact in my life. I am closer to God, more passionate about reading the Bible, I have a more positive attitude (not dependent on circumstances), I have more patience and love toward my husband and children, and I have a deeper desire for the things of God in general. I truly believe that if I, and all God fearing surrendered Christians, devote ourselves to prayer, we will experience God and His power like we never could have imagined. We will also, as the body of Christ, bring God more glory and honor than ever before as we humbly surrender in prayer. I truly believe prayer is the catalyst for acting on what God teaches us in His word.

One last thought..

What if your boss gave you two big projects to complete. You gave one of the projects everything you had and did an incredible job executing every little detail. Your boss was beyond thrilled with your work. But when he asked about the second project you presented something sloppy, half done. You told him that you put so much time into the first project you just didn’t have time for the second. Not to mention, you didn’t really think the second project was totally necessary. Would he be pleased? Would you be successful in your job? This is the same when we dedicate boatloads of time attending bible studies, reading spiritual books, listening to sermon after sermon, and studying our bibles, but neglect praying with the same focus and magnitude. This just can’t happen if we expect to live in a way that pleases God and have an effective ministry. We have to start studying Gods Word and discovering what God actually tells us to do as Christians and start doing it. Don’t just do what others tell you to do, including me. Go to God in prayer and read the Bible. The Holy Spirit will direct you and teach you how to be truly devoted to Jesus.

 

How to Beat Worry God’s Way

 

AF2ABBCE-6840-4DE6-AD64-B696A2797459If you are anything like me you’ve found yourself anxious and worried about your life circumstances at times. Maybe you ask some of these questions I find myself asking. Am I making the right decision? Will things work out? Is God going to get me through these difficult times? How can I face this individual or uncomfortable situation? These kinds of questions can plague you and bring on some intense anxiety if you allow them to. As Christians we don’t have to be controlled by worry and anxiety. In fact, God’s Word commands us not to be! Philippians 4:6 says “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” So why is it so hard at times to trust and not allow worry a place of control? It’s easy to read a verse, putting it into action is a different story.

First of all you have to Accept worry for what it is: A lack of trust in God. Coming to this realization years ago helped me tremendously! I didn’t like to admit it, but recognizing that my anxious worrying was proof that I wasn’t trusting God made a world of difference for me. Bottom line I wanted to be a ruled by my faith and trust in God, but when I allowed worry to have a hold on me I wasn’t doing that. This convicted me and changed the way I looked at my anxiety. When I saw it for what it really was I was much more capable of dealing with it the way God tells me to. In my heart I trust God fully, my thoughts and actions need to back that up.

A good place to start when anxiety sets in is to write down or simply verbalize the specifics on what is worrying you. Sometimes I can feel anxious and not really know why. maybe I pray  “God help me not feel anxious anymore” but this never really works. I am basically asking God to do all the work rather than doing my part as well. He tells me to submit my requests to him, only then can I expect His beautiful peace to take the place of my anxiety. So how does this look in action? When I realize I’m anxious I stop and think about what is worrying me. I verbalize it and then I tell God I’m sorry for not trusting Him. Once I’ve done that I can ask Him to help me with whatever it is I’m dealing with specifically. If it’s something I have no control over I make the choice to let go and trust God. If I can do something about it I make a plan and ask God for the courage to act on that plan. It’s incredible how God’s peace truly does come over me when I respond to anxiety the way He wants me to. As I courageously face my worries one at a time my anxiety eventually disappears.

You have to start speaking God’s truth to your worry. There is a battle going on for your mind. When we give into worry our faith and peace crumble. What does God’s Word say about your situation? The Bible tells us to “be transformed by the renewing of our minds.” We can only do this by meditating on Gods Word, obeying it, and spending time in His presence. When Gods Word is in your heart it will start impacting your life in an incredible and active way. My go to verse these days when worry starts to come in is Psalm 138:8 “The LORD will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O LORD, endures forever; Do not forsake the works of Your hands.” God has my back, and He wants to have yours too. 

I can tend to have a lot of worry when it comes to dealing with people. It could be something simple like asking a boss for a day off or sharing a concern with a close friend or family member. This anxiety can have a huge hold on me.  I am able to overcome this with God’s truth found in Proverbs 29:25 that says “The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in The Lord shall be safe.” I speak this truth when worry sets in time and time again. Depending on how tightly I am holding onto my worry it might take a lot of effort and time for my anxiety to subside, but I have found when I am continually speaking God’s truth it always does.

Figure out what you’re most afraid of: In my experience, and in helping others with anxiety, I have found that a deeper fear is always involved. People tend to avoid thinking about their greatest fears which makes it difficult to address them. Ask yourself this question. What is my biggest fear related to this current worry? As I mentioned, I worry whenever I have to confront someone regarding an issue or uncomfortable topic. What is my biggest fear? Not the confrontation itself, rather the potential rejection of those I’m confronting. Because I am aware of this I have been able to address it. I’ve recognized that my value doesn’t depend on being accepted by everyone or on whether or not people reject me. I have learned that I can find true acceptance from God and trust Him to take care of me when I need to confront someone on an uncomfortable issue. Dealing with this fear has enabled me to successfully overcome this worry on many occasions.. although still a work in progress!

Figure out what you are most afraid of and make a list of what you would do if it came true. What if that person does reject you? What if you do lose your job? What if? whenever I do this with my fears I realize that with God’s help I can deal with whatever may come. Suddenly the fear doesn’t seem so unbearable.

Hormones and biology don’t excuse you from obeying Philippians 4:6. I understand this all to well. For one week every month my hormones are all out of whack causing me all kinds of issues, including physiological symptoms of anxiety. I’m on edge, irritable, quick tempered, easily upset. It is very easy during this time for me to fall victim to worry and fear. I used to think this gave me a pass but I’ve come to realize over the years that God’s Word still applies with forces that seem to be out of my control. Now that I’ve accepted that truth I simply prepare for these times. I realize that with the Holy Spirit I can work toward regaining control when it seems a lot harder to do. In the past I would slip and it would spiral. Now I slip, and because I’m ready for it, I catch myself and apply the Biblical principles I’ve learned.

God tells us His strength is made perfect in weakness, and as a believer I know this pertains to all circumstances. This doesn’t exclude people with physical or psychological struggles. His truth is blanket truth. What Satan wants you to believe is that your problem is unique and God’s truth doesn’t apply to you. If he can get you to believe this you won’t start using the resources God has given you to fight back and overcome this monster called worry (and others like it). You see, God’s tools are dependent on Him, not on the capability of the individual using them. All that is required to use them is a choice to receive and follow Jesus Christ. Once you’ve done that the Holy Spirit and His power is available to you. This includes the supernatural ability to overcome worry and the grip it has on your life. 

Sometimes anxiety can be so debilitating that it’s hard to overcome on your own. If that’s you I urge you to seek out a professional counselor who can help support you through the battle.