Finding empowerment and conquering hindrances to your prayers
Have you ever wanted to see your prayer life expand and have more impact, but just didn’t know how? Or perhaps you’d just like to learn more about finding intimacy with God through prayer. Here’s a few ideas that I’ve learned through my own prayer life:
Don’t settle for anything less than knowing God. If we allow our prayer lives to be solely about a list of requests, we’ll miss out on so much. If we allow it to, our prayer lives can become a classroom where we truly get to know God for all of His incredible attributes. When we come to Him in prayer when we’re afraid, we get to know Him as The Prince of Peace. When we come to Him when we’re hurting, we learn to know Him as our comforter. When we come to Him when we don’t understand why He didn’t answer our prayers the way we thought He should, we come to understand His Sovereignty. …And the list goes on and on. There will always be more to learn about our God. The question is, are we invested in the quest to get to know Him. If we are, it means pressing into Him beyond a list of prayer requests and into a relationship with Him.
The second way to develop a powerful and effective prayer life is to get real. It is all too easy to shift into prayer-ese when we begin to talk to God…saying what we think He wants us to say rather than being honest with Him. This is especially important when we’re feeling angry or disappointed with God. Ooops! Did I say that out loud?!? Angry with God? How unspiritual! Yes, it’s true…Sometimes I get angry with God. Being honest with God can be hard for a lot of people, perhaps because it feels dishonoring to tell God that we’re really miffed at Him right now. The reality is, God already knows how we’re feeling. It seems we have two choices: either A: be honest with God and reconcile with Him or B., stuff our feelings, maybe for years, and let that anger toward Him turn into bitterness. The key here is to bring our honesty with Jesus full circle: Tell Him how we feel, confess our own sin of believing that He has failed us in some way, and finally, ending our time with Him by declaring His faithfulness and our trust in Him. If we fail to come full circle and return to a place of trust, our honesty actually is dishonoring to God.
Another way we can get real with God is by bringing our offenses with other people to Him rather than to people who are neither part of the problem nor part of the solution. It’s amazing how much healing we can find from relationship difficulties when we bring that pain to God in prayer. Not only that, but it’s amazing how our perspective of other people changes when we pray for them.
Another thing to keep in mind as we seek to get real with God is that He doesn’t desire mindless repetition in our prayers any more than we would want that in our earthly relationships. He wants genuine connection with His people, not prayers rooted in obligatory penance.
The third way to have a powerful and effective prayer life is to learn from others who pray. One of the women that I have learned so much from is author Stormy Omartian. She has written a number of books on prayer, including The Power of A Praying Parent and The Power of A Praying Wife. In her books, she teaches how to incorporate the promises in the Bible into our prayers. She provides samples of prayers on many specific topics as well as the scriptures she uses. While pre-written prayers are not the end-all to prayer and can become mindless repetition if we allow them to, they served as “training wheels” in my prayer life. Stormy’s books were incredibly helpful in helping me to expand my prayer life.
Another good way to learn from others who pray is to join a prayer group. I learned so much about prayer when I joined a Moms in Touch (now called Moms in Prayer) group. This is a group of mothers who join together to pray for our schools. For more info. go to http://www.momsinprayer.org
The fourth way to have a powerful and effective prayer life is to pray out loud. I don’t know why this is true. God can read our minds, so He hears our unspoken prayers. What I can tell you from years of experience with prayer is that I see more results when I pray out loud; maybe it has to do with my own faith being bolstered when it do. Romans 10:17 tells us that, “faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.” When we speak our prayers, rather than just think them, we are proclaiming that Christ is the answer to our prayers. Taking that first step of praying out loud can be an uncomfortable one for all of us, but with practice it will begin to feel normal, and we will see the fruit of it.
Another way to develop a powerful and effective prayer life is to understand authority…God’s and our own. Understanding authority is crucial because it is a common place for the enemy to attack God’s people. He tends to come at us in our prayer closets by planting thoughts like, “Who do you think you are?” or “You have no right to do this.” Satan would love nothing more than to intimidate us with lies that say that he is bigger or more powerful than God…or that our prayers are a hopeless case because “there are giants in the land.”
The best way to learn about God’s authority and your own is through memorizing scriptures that teach about authority. Some examples of this would be: found in Daniel 7:14b: “His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed” or Colossians 2:9-10,15: “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority…And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”
The sixth way to develop a powerful and effective prayer life is by confronting unbelief when you are tempted by it. If you’ve been serious about prayer for any length of time, sooner or later you are likely to have to wrestle through questions about why God didn’t answer a prayer the way you thought He should. It is in these moments that we are forced to make a choice: will we trust our own feelings and perceptions of the situation, or will we trust God’s word His character. Whenever I find myself entertaining doubt or unbelief that God will answer a prayer, I try to stop, hold that prayer request up beside the promises in God’s word and make the decision…which one will I give the power to direct my perspective? If I have yielded to unbelief, I take the time to repent and then verbally reaffirm my trust in God and in His promises.
Another way to have a powerful prayer life is by learning the protocol for entering the presence of the King. When we come into God’s presence, we come into the presence of THE King of Kings. Deuteronomy 16:16 lays out the protocol for the men of Israel in how they were to come into God’s presence when it says, “No one should appear before the LORD empty-handed.” So what gift can we bring to the Lord when we come in prayer? Psalm 100:4 spells it out for us when it says, “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.” Our praise and our thanks are the gifts that honor God as we come into His presence. In praise we acknowledge God’s attributes, i.e., His faithfulness, goodness, lovingkindness, etc. When we give thanks, we take the time to thank Him for all He has done for us.
The eighth way to develop an effective prayer life is by asking God to guide our prayers. Ask God to help you identify your specific assignment in pray. Over time, I’ve come to understand that my roles in prayer aren’t just supposed to be for my closest loved ones. God has also put it on my heart to pray on behalf of my church and its’ leaders. I also have a pattern of being led into prayer on behalf of those suffering from depression and for mothers who’ve had children pass away. The needs that you feel especially led to pray for may be completely different than mine. The main thing is that we can trust God to guide us when we ask Him to. He promises in Psalm 32:8 to guide us when He says, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you…” It can be incredibly powerful to apply this promise to our prayer lives. When God gives us specific assignments in prayer, He also gives an anointing over those prayers because we are simply agreeing with His will. When we pray in agreement with His will, He will move mountains to answer them if necessary. How do we know what our prayer assignments are? Ask yourself where your passion in prayer lies. Are there certain things you pray for that you feel more deeply than is even logical? Do you find yourself weeping over their pain? If so, you may have prayed into your assignment without even realizing it.
Another way to develop a powerful prayer life is by knowing when it’s time to call in reinforcements. There are times in each of our lives when we feel like we’re unable to gain the victory on our own. There is so much power in agreement in prayer. When we agree with other believers in prayer, we will see amazing results. We were never meant to do this life alone; we’re part of a body…a body that needs one another at times to do the heavy lifting.
I remember one such time in my own life. One of our adult children was going through a crisis. The more they grieved, the more I spiraled downward. Even though I felt that I had a strong grasp on what I needed to do in the midst of spiritual warfare, no matter what I did, I didn’t seem to be able to stop the downward spiral. I felt like I was in the middle of a spiritual hurricane, and everything looked incredibly dark and swirling. I had a hard time even sitting up, the oppression was so heavy. It was my husband who recognized the need for reinforcements and called a few friends to join us in prayer. The shift was dramatic. It felt as if the hurricane ceased abruptly and the sun came out. Talk about the power of agreement!
The tenth way to develop a powerful prayer life is by not giving up on the one yard-line. You will see answers to your prayers if you do not give up. Hebrews 6:11-12 says, “…imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what was promised.”
I hope these ideas will empower and expand your prayer life the way they have mine. If you have other ideas that have worked for you, I’d love to hear from you!