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HOW TO PRAY

Posted by Job on March 1, 2007

Luke 11:1 – And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.

The most important, powerful things in Christianity are the most basic and simple, yet they are the least understood and adhered to. There are so many things that afflict Christians that are unnecessary. There are so many ways that Christians can make a difference in the lives of people but do not. So much power for good at the fingertips of so many sincere lovers of God goes unclaimed. Why? Because so many Christians simply do not pray, and further most of the Christians who do pray do not know how to do so effectively. The primary reason why people do not pray is because of a lack of faith. If people were certain that God heard them and would act on their prayers, then they would pray all the time. But since they really do not believe, they either neglect praying or only make cursory, obligatory, ritualistic attempts at it. A lot of this lack of faith is due to a lack of understanding. People think that God ought to answer them when they want in the manner that they want. When that does not happen, people get discouraged, even bitter. Also, a lot of people do not know how to approach God. They feel themselves unworthy, and are fearful that if they say the wrong thing in prayer, bad things will happen to them. Others do not know the meaning of being submissive to God’s Will. They think that it means accepting whatever happens and not trying to change it. They do not know that submissive prayer means asking in a respectful manner. You can ask God for anything under the sun and request it as boldly and fervently as possible just so long as you respect God’s Authority, which includes His right to say no. And that is another problem. People just cannot stand to be told no! They think that it means that God is being unfair, or that something is wrong with them. Such people need to heed Proverbs 3:11 – 12, which says “My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction: For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth.” If people had faith, they would pray constantly, asking God for everything that they needed and for guidance on every decision. They would ask God for things great and small. They would be grateful for the things that they get and even more grateful for the requests that God saw fit not to grant! And even mistaking God’s Will due to a lack of discernment would not be a concern, for they would be greatly comforted by knowing that at least they made a legitimate attempt to keep God’s Will by first praying, and are therefore either blameless or at least as close to blameless as possible. Simply put, the man who believes in the powerful, righteous, loving God who does not dedicate a great amount of time to prayer is either a liar or foolish. Since the Believer community is obviously not overrun by fools (for if nothing else these folks are smart enough to avoid the lake of fire), then obviously they are liars: a lot of folks are professing faith that they really do not have and are no acting in. But that is OK, the Believers who do can fix that by exhorting them … and by praying for them!

However, an even bigger problem than the lack of prayer among Believers is the lack of EFFECTUAL prayer on the part of Christians who do pray! James 5:16b does NOT state “the fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” It says the EFFECTUAL fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much! The definition of effectual is “producing or sufficient to produce a desired effect; fully adequate.” The prayer life of so many Believers and Christians is inadequate not because so many Believers do not pray at all or enough, but when so many Believers do pray, they pray in the wrong way. So much prayer on the part of Christians is cursory, obligatory, ceremonial, and ritualistic. We go to church week after week and repeat the same prayers during service, and then we go home and say those same prayers. We memorize them so well that we can repeat them in our sleep. Another thing that Believers do is pray only at the direction of others: the “repeat after me” prayers. Or, we pray as some sort of formalized routine. The “I am a Christian, God commanded me to pray, the pastor commanded me to pray, my parents raised me to pray, so I shall pray at these times of day and on these occasions so that I can faithfully execute the commandments of God.” At first, I was going to say “There is nothing wrong with that, but you cannot limit your prayer life to that.” But nah, even that is not the case. Instead I shall say that there IS something wrong with that! As a matter of fact, it is TOTALLY WRONG! If God regards any of that stuff, it will be only because of His Mercy and Grace towards people who do not know any better: people whose spirituality and prayer life have never advanced past the “Now I lay me down to sleep” that they were taught when they were two years old. Well let me tell you, saying “Now I lay me down to sleep” when you were two WORKED, because two year olds are SINCERE and they HAVE FAITH. Maybe they have no concept of what they are being sincere about or what they have faith in, but you know what, that is OK too. When you pray in that manner, you are practicing RITUALISM AND LEGALISM. Without faith, it is impossible to please God, and you are not acting in faith of the spirit, but you are practicing religion with the body and mind, and sometimes not even with the mind, because we all know that if you have been saying the same prayers in church and at bedtime for 35 years, you can recite them while your mind is somewhere off on vacation with your neighbor’s spouse!

God wants your prayers to be SINCERE. He wants you to make an EFFORT, to be HONEST. Even a selfish prayer – which is the only SINCERE type that most of us know how to make initially anyway – has a better chance to be heard than a virtuous ritualistic prayer. When you are praying, God wants the words to be yours. He wants your true thoughts and desires, even if they are corrupt contemptible ones. Yes, I said it. Have you forgotten that God knows everything? You do realize that God already knows how corrupt and contemptible your thoughts were? Like God doesn’t know that you were fantasizing about your neighbor’s spouse during prayer service? Or like God doesn’t know that you have real doubts about whether He will hear and answer your prayers? Instead of thinking “Who am I that God should know my thoughts”, think “Who am I that I can conceal my thoughts from God!” Your problem is that you have never been told the SPIRITUAL REASON why you have to pray! It isn’t about the words! The most loving, selfless, eloquent words in the world do not mean a thing if they are not sincere. Did not Jesus Christ tell the Pharisees the same? Did not God tell the children of Israel, when they would go straight from worshipping Baal/Molech/Ashtoreth offering sacrifices in the temple to keep their sacrifices; He did not want them? It is about YOUR WILL! When you make a real physical, intellectual, and emotional effort to pray in your own words, you surrender your will and emotions, which is YOUR SOUL, to God. THAT is what God wants. God does not want people who come to Him out of tradition. He does not want people who come to Him out of affectation. God does not want people who come to Him out of emulation. God does not want people who come to Him out of intimidation (yes, a great many “pastors” do intimidate their congregations to pray). God wants people to come to Him out of exhaustion! Exasperation! Frustration! Elation! That is what “come ye that are heavy laden, put your yoke upon me and I will give you rest” means. That is what “come all ye that are disconsolate and are of a broken heart” means. One of my favorite preachers, the late Adrian Rogers, once said “God doesn’t want much, just your everything.” I would modify it by saying “God doesn’t want much, just your soul!”

That is why the most effective way of praying is to pray in tongues. Yes, that charismatic stuff that the vast majority of Christians do not believe in, which means that they do not believe in the Bible. Never mind that they were speaking in tongues in Acts, Corinthians, and elsewhere. Never mind that I actually believe that many of the references to prophesying in the Old Testament (“Is Saul among the prophets?”) was actually speaking in tongues. Never mind that Joel prophesied that speaking in tongues would be a regular occurrence, and that Peter stated that the prophecy had come to pass in Acts. Now, notice that Joel did not call it “tongues” in the Old Testament, because the appearance of fire as cloven tongues had never been seen in those days. Joel called it “prophesying”, and when Peter referenced Joel in Acts all the Jews instantly knew what he was talking about. So I am certain that the many references to “prophesying” in the Old Testament where it is not said what the prophesy was refers to God’s prophets praying in tongues! Still do not believe me? I Samuel 10:6, where Samuel told Saul: “And the Spirit of the LORD will come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy with them, and shalt be turned into another man.” THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD WILL COME UPON YOU? THOU SHALT PROPHESY AND SHALT BE TURNED INTO ANOTHER MAN? Further, you have the prophets and the miracle workers in the Old Testament. How can one be a prophet or work miracles except through the Holy Spirit? And if the Holy Spirit is present, are not the gifts and fruits of the spirit present in that person also? And would that not include tongues? So if people in the Old Testament were able to speak in tongues BEFORE the birth, death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ, how much more should we be able to now in the Age of Grace? No wonder so many of you never hear God’s voice and never have your prayers answered so you never actually pray except legalistically. How can you have faith that God will hear your prayers and act on them if you do not have faith that God’s Word is true? If you cannot read and discern the Scriptures for yourself and instead rely on the dead traditions and interpretations of man’s religion? Why do you seek to deny The Word and the prophecies rather than to confirm and fulfill them in your own lives, and not just within yourself but before the world so that others might believe as you claim to? Yes, I said not as you do but as you claim to, because if you do not believe the entire Word you do not believe any of it, and that so many shall be saved despite their unbelief will be only due to the love and grace of The Father, the sacrifice of His Son, and the working of the same Holy Spirit in which you do not believe is present today despite the Word of God telling you over and over again that it would be!

Your next thought may be “I believe in tongues, but I do not seek them; I do not think that it is for me.” Wow. How nuts is that. “I believe in food, but I do not want any; I am not into eating or believe that it is God’s Will that I eat, so I will just sit here and starve, thank you, I with my family.” Again, you do not believe God’s Word. Receiving and manifesting the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit is a GOOD THING. Much better than that new car, house, or job that you are praying for. More to the point, once you are operating in the power of the Holy Spirit with faith, you will be able to get 10 new cars and houses and not even need a job to pay for it! More fundamentally, since it comes from God, it has to be good, right? Or is it that you believe that good things can come from Satan? Or is it that you believe that God sometimes hands out good and sometimes hands out evil to His people? Receiving the Holy Spirit, including tongues, is a good thing, and Jesus Christ said that any good thing (including the Holy Spirit) that you ask of God you will receive it?

When you pray in tongues, you surrender your soul to the Will of God. It is a mental and emotional giving yourself over that causes your spirit – or “spirit man” – to be taken over by God, and that manifests itself in the physical realm with tongues and perhaps vigorous bodily worship. When that happens, God plays you like an instrument. You create a song that is to His liking, and He uses it to bless you. God already knows your needs – indeed He knows you better than you do (Matthew 6:8)! God also knows the true needs of other people all over the world. There are not only things which you have no concept of, but things which you would not be able to remember or even manage to pray for adequately (whether through lack of faith or some other inhibition) even if you did. But when you give yourself up to God and allow Him to use you to pray in tongues, He uses you to pray for yourself and others for you. You will have no idea what you are saying, and it does not matter, for God is in control. So, rather than saying some memorized ritualistic ceremonial dead prayer with your body while committing adultery with your neighbor’s spouse with your soul (meaning your mind, will, desire, and emotions), you can be praying to God with your soul while your body does, well, whatever! And the very fact that you have no idea what you are saying is the best part. It is a perfect act of submission, telling God that HE is control and that YOU TRUST HIM. That you are not first, God is; that your desires are subject to God, AND that you trust God to give you the desires of your heart even without your consciously having to ask Him!

It indeed is a miracle; God using you to pray for people and situations that you have absolutely no idea of. God lives in the spiritual plane, you live in the natural one, and God wants to use people to project His Will and Authority from the spiritual world into the natural one. When you speak in tongues, God is speaking His Word into the natural realm through you. What is God’s Word? Jesus Christ! He is spiritually using you as Mary to bring Jesus Christ into the world! You might say “Well that cannot be because Mary was a virgin and I am a sinner. Why just a few minutes ago I was committing adultery with my neighbor’s spouse with my soul.” That may be true, but your spirit is pure, virginal, and clean! It became that way when you accepted Jesus Christ into your heart and thereby put your spirit on the highway to Heaven! And your spirit will remain clean no matter what your body and soul do, because Christ has already paid for all of your sin! So your spirit is a clean chaste pure virgin before God that God can use to push His Word through your body into the world! That is what people do not understand about praying. It is not your word that changes anything. It is God’s Word, Jesus Christ, and God’s Word does not come back null and void! When you pray fervently and sincerely (whether in tongues or not), it brings God’s Word into the world; the very same God’s Word that healed the sick, raised the dead, fed the 5000, walked on the water, and taught the masses! That is why prayer is actually more important than works. When you do works, YOU are doing those things at one time for a few people. But when you pray, God’s Word does those things at all times for the entire Body of Christ and all else whom God chooses to bless! Or, as it may be, for all God decides to set Himself against and curse. When you legitimately pray, God may and will use you to project His Judgment into the natural world.

You may say “Well that is fine, but I am not there yet. My faith is not there, or for whatever reason it has not happened.” Or “I speak in tongues sometimes, but am unable to just do it whenever I desire to or whenever I pray. So how to I pray now?” Again, pray to God from your heart. Tell him what is on your mind. Surrender yourself. Be sincere. Concentrate. Work at it! Recall Jesus Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane, who prayed until His sweat became as blood. Christ only stated a few words (“O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt”, Matthew 26:39), but oh did He work at it and mean it! And what if there is nothing on your mind? If you are legitimately having trouble concentrating your efforts and managing sincerity due to a variety of reasons, such as faithlessness, uncertainty, fatigue, illness, and spiritual attack? Well do the next best thing. As a matter of fact, do what is probably better than coming up with a prayer yourself (especially under adverse conditions). READ YOUR BIBLE! Now reading your Bible is not a substitute for praying. The only exception is when it, well, is! By that I mean that you should always make every effort to manage sincere fervent prayer, but if you fail the Bible is there! The Bible is FILLED with prayers, prayers on every topic imaginable! It would be helpful to investigate Bible prayer guides (simple ones are included in most concordance Bibles) for assistance. Or, you can just start reading! If you do not want to read at random but also do not want to use or do not have available a Bible prayer guide, read the Psalms! Learn them and recite them! Do not get legalistic, rote, ritualistic, or ceremonial about it though. You have to first believe that what you are reading is not only true but alive and applicable to your life and situation. Then when you read it, you have to put yourself into the words; see yourself writing those words in the Bible, and imagine situations in your life that those Bible situations are similar to or apply to. You can think about the times that you were driving around and got lost when reading the 23rd Psalm, for instance. You can think about the times that people mocked, excluded, or took advantage of you for being a Christian when you read some of the other Psalm 2. And you can think of the times when you “tried to fit in” when you read Psalm 1, or when you read about Peter denying Christ. It is the Word of God, it has power, it applies to your life, and hence it can deliver you! Your believing that while immersing yourself in God’s Word gets the job done! You surrender your soul to God, and God takes control of your spirit and body and uses you as an antenna to broadcast His Word and Will from the spirit realm to the natural one! You will be giving birth to The Word while reading The Word! As a matter of fact, as you read the Bible while meditating on its meaning and your own life, you will find yourself praying without even knowing when you started or what you are praying about, which is precious little difference from praying in tongues!

The truth is that tongues are not what is important. The vast majority of the heroes of the Bible never prayed in tongues, and that includes Jesus Christ Himself. What is important is ceding control to God. It would even appear that it is possible to speak in tongues without giving yourself over to God, which describes Saul. Even receiving the anointing did not change Saul’s heart, and despite being given every chance he rejected God at every turn. So the important thing is praying with effort, sincerity, submission. To be seeking something from God and be willing to work, to give up something, to get it even if you have no idea what “it” is. Even if you are scared of “it” but you want God’s Will to be worked in you more than you are scared of whatever God’s Will is. Do not worry, do not fear, it is all good so long as you are willing to be sincere, willing to submit, and willing to put in some real work. So go ahead. Give up the legalism, ritualism, ceremonialism, and the routine. Cast aside the faithlessness; quit lying about faith that you do not have. Child of God, give real prayer a chance and watch it transform your life and the entire world! And if you are unsaved, the place to start is the Salvation Prayer.

Prayer:Father God in the Name of Your Son Jesus Christ, please make all Believers effectual, fervent, and frequent in our prayers to you. Father God, if I have not spoken in tongues, please tell me what I must do so that I may receive them. If I have received it, tell me what I must do so that I may pray in tongues regularly and consistently. May the false teaching and the faithlessness that prevents so many Believers from praying in tongues and otherwise effectively be driven from the Body of Christ in the Name of Jesus Christ. Please use your Believers, Father God, to establish Your Will and Kingdom upon the earth. In the Name of Your Son Jesus Christ, Amen.

Deliverance:The demons that work in this area are false doctrine, false teaching, ritualism, fear, and faithlessness. Please read the Basic Spiritual Warfare guide to learn more about how to go against these demons to help set captives free and win battles in the name of your God through the power, authority, and victory given to you by his Son Jesus Christ and by his blood shed for you!

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