LEARNING TO PRAY
Passage: Psalm 62:8
Trust in him at all times, O people; Pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.
Psalm 62 changed the way I pray. It’s a gracious invitation to go deeper into prayer with God, and He knows how much we need that communion in our relationship with Him. We derive strength from connecting with God. I remember the first time I prayed out loud: it was with a friend in his dorm room at college. It was an exciting start to prayer; I was astounded that God heard us. That night, I was walking around campus almost giddy, thinking to myself, “We just talked with God!”
Without realizing it, in the next couple of years I began to settle into a pattern of prayer that over-focused on my intellectual or theological thoughts. And when I prayed with other people, that habit only intensified. It felt more like performance than authentic prayer. There were times that I was trying so hard to be correct in my wording that my soul got squeezed out of this time spent with God. Can you relate? Communication without much heart isn’t what God had in mind when He created prayer. Reverence is good but so is honesty.
Psalm 62 encourages us to pour out our hearts to God. We don’t need to put pressure on ourselves to have just the right words when we pray. We don’t have to try to impress God with how much theology we know. He wants us to simply be ourselves and to share our lives with Him. We find great comfort in God as we pray.
The Bible tells us we can approach His throne of grace with confidence (Hebrews 4:14-16) because of Jesus, and God will help us with mercy in our time of need. Know that Jesus intercedes for us in prayer, and the Holy Spirit also helps guide our communication and prayers with Father God!
When we begin to really cry out to God in prayer, sometimes it can take a long time before we see the answer to our prayers. Sometimes God does say ‘no’ with some of our prayer requests, because He knows when to shut the door for our own good. Sometimes we receive a “no”, and it is mysterious why the door will never open. Those times can be extremely painful and disappointing. Hannah is someone who understood about praying and not giving up. Year after year she would pray for a child. She would ask God and cry out to Him, not holding back (1 Samuel 1:1-20).
Finally, God gave her a son and she named him Samuel. Samuel’s name means, ‘asked of the Lord’. It was because she kept asking God that God blessed her with a son. Sometimes He responds with “not yet”; He wants us to keep praying. Jesus knows that it’s easy for us to give up and stop praying, so He would often encourage His followers to keep praying.
He says to keep asking, seeking, and knocking (Matthew 7:7-8). Those words encourage us to be persistent in our prayers. In Luke 18:1-8 Jesus tells a parable about how an unjust judge responds to perseverance, because Jesus wanted to point out that God who is just, will respond even more to our perseverance in prayer. Waiting is active. There are many blessings that God is just waiting for us to ask Him for because He will grant our request. James 4:2 says, “You do not have, because you do not ask God.”
This is a reminder that prayer is God’s chosen way of hearing us and a way that we can humble ourselves before God. When we pray, we know that it is God at work and we can’t take any credit.
Read the Lord’s comments and prayer in Matthew chapter 6, verses 5 through 15. The acronym “ACTS” can keep our prayers balanced well.12 Notice these four elements of the prayer:
1) Adoration of God
2) Confession of sins
3) Thanksgiving to God
4) Supplication by asking God’s help
1) What is easiest for you to talk with God about: your fears, sins, dreams, or pain?
2) Do you need a time of confession now to get right with God?
3) What helps you to continue to pray and not give up?
4) What prayers have you seen God answer?
Luke 11:1-13. Jesus encourages us to pray with boldness and persistence.
Philippians 4:4-9. Praying to God can remove anxiety from your heart.
Romans 8:26-27. The Holy Spirit will guide you when you don’t know how to pray.
James 5:13-20. God unleashes spiritual power in response to prayer.
Gracious God, thank You for hearing my prayers. Pease teach me how to pray and how important prayer is each day in my relationship with You. I pray that I would trust You as I pray. I want to be full of faith and perseverance in prayer. Change my responses in life so that I am quick to pray. I know You will do great things through my prayers in Jesus’ name. Amen.
For more from Pastor Jesse Bradley and Activate Media Ministries, visit www.activatelife.org