There are two things we need to be comfortable with if we are to successfully cultivate a meaningful, dynamic prayer life. The first is ourselves—being comfortable in “our own skin” as they say. It may not make sense to everyone, but we have to allow ourselves legitimacy in prayer. True, we are imperfect and can point out all the ways in which we are inadequate and disqualified for prayer. But we have not been invited into the Secret Place because of our adequacy or qualifications! On the contrary, it is through the blood of Jesus and His utter qualification that we are allowed—No, invited! No, compelled to enter into the Most Holy Place!
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water (Hebrews 10:19-22, NIV).
This means for us that, when we cry out to God we mustn’t shrink from the sound of our own voice because we are aware of our unworthiness, but instead allow ourselves to begin to say about ourselves what God says about us: that we are considered righteous through faith:
However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness (Romans 4:5, NIV).
Second, it may be difficult for some to cultivate a meaningful, dynamic prayer life because their families are not prepared to lend them legitimacy in prayer. Our families have witnessed our shortcomings and failures and may take the lower road of judging us for what they have seen in us rather than for what God and His Word says is possible in us. For this reason, we should never present ourselves as being superior because we are pursuing prayer, but rather we should humbly acknowledge our inadequacies and hide completely behind God’s mercy and love. In the end, we must pursue God in the Secret Place regardless of others’ opinion of us!
No one would know it but in the last four and a half years since this blog has been online it has had views from almost every nation in the world. I don’t post all the time or even regularly, but I often wonder what I could write that might make an impact on people even outside of the U.S. Today, I am wondering who I can help? So, here is an invitation: I’d like to
answer a question about
If you are a believer in Jesus I would like to pray for you specifically. Prayer makes a difference!
Do you have suggestions about what you would like to see on this blog, subjects you would like me to deal with? Let me know!
If I can be a blessing to you in any of these ways, simply email me here and I will respond and do my best to be a blessing to you!
Something encouraging occurred to me some time ago concerning prayer.
There were two or three things I was intensely praying about, needing an answer. I watched as the Lord supplied all but one of those needs. Because the need that went “unmet” was so intense, it got nearly all of my focus and I began to struggle with why God had not answered. That led to questions. Guilt. The sense that I had perhaps done something wrong. I wasn’t focusing on what God had done, but what He had not done. Then an encouraging word occurred to my heart: How can I imagine that God is distant from me when I consider the unmet need, but near to me because of the prayers He did answer? God is not divided. He is not loving and kind on my left as He answers prayer, and then angry and rejecting on my right. If He has been near to me and answered prayer on my left, then I must allow that He is loving and attentive on my right as well, even though He has not yet answered those prayers or met those needs. If God is loving me on the left, He’s also loving me on the right!
So, live in the grace of God as you wait for answers, and as you wait, allow yourself to be encouraged when you remember what God has done. Look for the blessings He is showering on you right now and understand that His heart for you is the same whether He is pouring out blessings in some areas or asking you to wait in others.
(The following questions are put forth as concisely worded reminders to help you be accountable to the all-important privilege and opportunity for daily prayer. The key, if your answers are negative, is not to become discouraged, guilty, or to find a way to justify yourself, but rather to consider the questions honestly and on a regular (daily) basis so that the Holy Spirit can carve out a place for prayer in your thinking and in your life.)
Question 1: Did you set aside quality time in a location where you would not be disturbed or disturb others for the intentional purpose of being alone with God in the secret place?
Anyone who has a relationship with Jesus understands the need to pray every day. But because we are frequently pressed for time we may try to turn our commute time into our secret place time. Don’t get me wrong: we should pray everywhere and at all times! But there is no replacement for time alone with God in a place where no one can see or hear you. Why? Well, first of all, it says something about our commitment to our love relationship with Jesus that we spend uninterrupted time with Him. It also allows for us to respond fully. As a Pentecostal believer, there are times in my prayer time when I need to cry, or shout, or clap my hands. I may feel the leading to lay prostrate before the Lord in surrender. I may even feel compelled to dance before the Lord. I’m less likely to feel the freedom to do that when I know others can see or hear me. Finally, if others are able to observe my secret place time they may be inclined to criticize, judge, or otherwise hinder my freedom in the Lord.
Question 2: If your answer to Question 1 was yes, was the balance of your time in the secret place spent pursuing your love relationship with Jesus or did you spend most of the time asking God for His help with needs?
We are exhorted to let our requests be made known to God (Philippians 4:6). But prayer is first and foremost about our relationship with God! What would any of our other important relationships be like if all we did was ask for things? No! All of our petitions before the Lord must flow out of our close relationship to Him and be led by Him. Sometimes we convince ourselves that because we are praying for ministries that we should spend all of our time interceding for ministries. But that says to God that the mission is more important than He is! If we will delight ourselves in the Lord He will give us the desires of our heart (Psalm 37:4)!
Appreciating these words from John Donne’s Holy Sonnets, XIV
Batter my heart, three-person’d God ; for you