The First Ten Lessons I Learned About Prayer
The First Ten Lessons I Learned about Prayer
1. The only
real mistake we can make in prayer is in not praying.
If we pray earnestly, almost
anything we do is better than not praying. After all, no
father rejects the child's plea because she did not use the
right words or form. He welcomes his child into his arms.
Someone has said, "Nothing never happens when we pray."
2. No matter
how much you pray, you will never be completely satisfied
with your prayer life.
You will always feel the goal is
out there beyond you somewhere. We must work against
perfectionism, that mental disease that convinces us because
we're not doing something perfectly, that we should stop it
altogether. No matter how ineffective you think your prayers
are, believe that they matter to God and keep on praying.
3. The Holy
Spirit helps us in our prayer.
Romans 8:26 assures us "He helps
us in our weakness because we do not know how to pray." The
Greek word translated "helps" is a compound Greek verb
"synantilambanomai." The "syn" means "together, with
us." The "anti" means "opposite to, in front of."
And the "lambanomai" is a form of the verb "to lift."
Together they tell us the Holy Spirit gets on the other end
of our task, opposite to us, and together with us lifts the
burden. He does not do this in our place, but works
Persistence in prayer is taught so
many times in Scripture. My favorite is blind Bartimaeus in
Luke 18. Let nothing stop you from praying. Not your own
inadequacy (of which there is much), your own needs (which
can be overwhelming), not your fears (which never tire of
assaulting you), and most definitely not other people
(discouragement is all around us). Just keep at it.
5. Our emotions
and feelings are irrelevant to effective praying.
We need to rescue our prayer life
from bondage to our emotions. You know, "I don't feel like
my prayers go beyond the ceiling," or "I don't feel like
praying today." When you turn to the Father in prayer, how
you feel has nothing to do with anything. Pray anyway.
places the same value on our prayers that we do.
If it matters to us, it matters to
our Heavenly Father. The widow's mite did not mean much to
anyone else in the Temple that day, but because it mattered
a great deal to her, it was precious to the Father. This
principle holds true for our prayers, our offerings, and
anything else we give to the Lord: when it arrives in
Heaven, it carries the same value there we placed on it
Throw away your clock.
Jesus said it's the heathen who
think they will be heard for their much speaking. The goal
in our prayer time is to be real, to touch Heaven, and not
to log so much time. Think how insulted your sweetheart
would be if you brought along a clock on your next visit,
and you kept looking at it to see how much time had gone by
so you could feel good about the investment you were making
in the relationship. How much time you spend in prayer has
little to do with anything. This assumes, of course, that
you are spending some quality time with Him each day in
not necessary to know the will of God in order to ask for
Go ahead and ask for healing, for
that new job, for this blessing, or that condition to
change. What if it's not the will of God? Then, friend, He
won't do it. Do not think you are tying God's
hands by your prayers. That's why Jesus ended His prayer in
Gethsemane with "Not my will, but Thy will be done." He
taught us to pray "Thy will be done on earth as it is in
Heaven." My job is to ask. It's the
Father's place to sort things out and decide what He wishes
to answer and grant.
9. There is a
mystery involved whenever we come into the presence of God.
We are kneeling before the
Almighty Sovereign God, Lord of the universe. Be quiet. Be
still. Get alone with Him. Humble yourself. Wait on Him.
Respect Him as having sense and quit insulting Him with your
pet memorized phrases. Tell Him the truth, what you've been
up to and what you're thinking now. Tell Him what blesses
you about Him, and what areas of your life you need
particular help with.
Jesus said He already knows our
needs before we ask, but He likes to see if we have figured
things out, too. So, go ahead and make your requests to Him.
Whatever answer comes, accept that as His will, at least for
the time being. And keep on praying.
10. Always keep
paper and pen handy when you are praying.
My experience is that when you
come into the Father's presence in prayer, He will
frequently call your attention to something He wants you to
know or do. He may tell you someone to see, something to do,
someone to call, something to forgive, a verse to look up, a
text to remember, a debt to pay, or a neighbor to help.
Write it down. Then, go back to your prayer. Expect to
receive from Him every time you turn to Him in prayer.
was a kid on the Alabama farm, times were hard and surprises
were rare. But we were always glad when our uncle Johnny
Chadwick drove up from Birmingham. He was a police officer
with the city and was forever meeting interesting people,
getting challenging ideas, and having things given to him.
He would bring up day-old cakes and pies from bakeries. He
once brought me an old used bicycle, the first I'd ever
owned. Once he arrived with a truckload of calves which it
became my assignment to feed before and after school. He
never came empty-handed. We were always eager to meet Uncle
How much more when we come to
pray, entering into the very presence of the loving Heavenly
Father, should we be eager and expectant about what is about