A cultivated prayer life: it’s reliable hot topic that captures the ambition of most Bible-believing Christians. Like many, I often find myself with a surplus of ambition that’s shortchanged by a deficit in the legwork department. Sunday morning service stokes fondness for a hearty prayer life, yet it’s the other six days that test the resolve of said fondness.
Thus, the week sees little in the way of focused, concerted prayer time. As a consequence, the question becomes, “What’s got to change in order for me to mature into a faithful and effective prayer warrior?” Before the path of victory is cleared, we must identify the destructive elements of a dry prayer life.
The Degenerative Cycle
Humans were engineered to communicate, for we were built with vocal cords and ear canals. God’s a thorough engineer, and accordingly, the human spirit possesses the same capability. When we accept salvation, the Holy Spirit enters into our inner man. As a result, we are heavenly-enhanced to hear the still voice of God in the various ways He prods us.
Neglecting to dedicate prayer time cuts off the lines of communication with God. For instance, if two elements of a fighting force are separated from one another and have no ability to communicate, both will be exposing themselves to enemy assaults without the dexterity to assist each other. Cutting out prayer time leaves us isolated when the world’s anxieties come calling.
If we don’t maintain contact with our Heavenly Father, our natural inclination will be to seek counsel from either our own wisdom or that of the world. Since both options are fixated in Satan’s wheelhouse, they are one hundred percent guaranteed to insert you amidst a landing zone full of Satan’s fiery darts.
Predictably, any faithful Christian will get down when they stumble. On the other hand, some use their fall to excuse themselves from ever getting up again. Prayer turns into a tired obligation and worse, a suspicious resemblance to buying a lottery ticket rather than an appeal to heaven.
Naturally, the fallen believer wonders why God isn’t working through his trials and tribulations. When in these situations, we speedily forget our neglect in speaking even a few sentences to Him. God never stops working miracles or breathing life; we just choose to stop speaking to Him. Fortunately, our self-imposed gag on prayer can be changed.
Turning the Tide
If we’re truly behind the innate authenticity of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, then the joy we garner from this privilege will be reflected by our prayer life. We must remember that a relationship requires us to, you know, speak to God once in a while. Few misunderstandings occur when we engage our Heavenly Father, and if we want intimacy with the Godhead, it takes more than a passing glance.
Accordingly, prayer is cultivated by valuing God’s words. In the Psalms, David made supplications to God— earnest, fervent petitions— with full faith that God’s record was sterling. Why did David see his prayers fulfilled so often? He adored God’s precepts, and consequently, he was no stranger to the inner mechanics of Yahweh’s dealings with man.
“The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.” -Psalm 19:7
Even more curious, he actually charted God’s intervention in the lives of Israel’s forefathers. He was a man in tune with his history, and as the Psalms demonstrate, Yahweh is a chronically faithful God. David was a man who could put the pieces together: “Hmmm…If Yahweh delivered my ancestors from bondage in Egypt, then he can rescue me from the hand of King Saul.”
“But You are holy, Enthroned in the praises of Israel. Our fathers trusted in You; They trusted, and You delivered them. They cried to You, and were delivered; They trusted in You, and were not ashamed.” -Psalm 22:4-5
David often began his Psalms by pouring out the anguish of his heart, yet notice that by the end of his prayers, he was in a mode of praise recounting the mighty works of the Lord. All too often, like misguided scribes, we carefully record the full brevity of our tribulations yet censor each detail of the Lord’s soft warnings and timely grace. However, David ceaselessly returned to the Word of the Lord in the every circumstance despite any misgivings.
“The Words of the Lord are pure words, Like silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. You shall keep them, O Lord, You shall preserve them from this generation forever.” -Psalm 12:6-7
What excuse do we have? David didn’t have the full Bible or an iPad to download his favorite minister’s sermon. Instead, he lived out the promises of God and recorded them as they happened. It would be in our best interests to do the same. Write down your prayer requests as you have them and track the results of how God wills and works through your situation. Even better, listen to the testimonies of fellow believers and family members. When it’s all said and done, you will have mounds of evidence for God’s faithfulness. Keeping a record of God’s righteousness will only serve to bolster our faith.
What prayer comes down to is getting before the Lord in the absence of all distraction and humbly communicating all requests and inner thoughts to him. Prayer is neither politicking with God nor a time clock to begrudgingly swipe in and out of. Rather, it is a dialogue with your Creator. When you speak, He listens, and if you can bring yourself to listen, He will speak. Be forewarned, it takes consistency and more than thirty-second supplications. I’ve learned that if I can watch a three hour NHL hockey game, then I have the both the ability and requirement to dedicate a portion of my day to prayer. The amount of time we spend in prayer is at our discretion, but I imagine that it increases exponentionally when we realize the intimacy it brings.
“Now I know the Lord saves His anointed; He will answer him from His holy heaven with the saving strength of His right hand.” -Psalm 20:6
I’m late to the parade on this one, but the movie War Room (Written, produced, and directed by the Kendrick brothers) displays the possibilities of prayer by the way of a captivating narrative. Watch it on DvD, and you’ll see how dedicated prayer allows for us to create a legacy of God’s work in our lives so that we can pass it on to future generations. It’s brutally simple then: read the Word, know your history, fold your hands, and don’t give up. The question is, “Will we take the time to roll up our sleeves and get on our knees?” That’s the million-dollar question, for our walk with God depends upon it.
“A posterity shall serve Him. It will be recounted of the Lord to the next generation, They will come and declare His righteousness to a people who will be born, That He has done this” -Psalm 22:30-31
Kevin Cochrane is a nineteen year old writer with the distinct purpose of radically restoring everyone with exposed ears to the original testimony of Jesus Christ. The great pursuit of his life is to live by the words he writes—which is currently an ongoing project. For updates on his latest blog posts, you can follow him on Twitter @RunFree_KC or click the follow button at the bottom of the page to receive notifications by email.