We all know it’s important to communicate with God in prayer. We know how important it is to engage our minds in prayer, to focus entirely on God, to be persistent and honest in our prayer, and to put everything we have on the table before God. But even with the best intentions, our prayers can sometimes feel mechanical, stupid, difficult, or as if we’re just babbling.
And yet, as Oswald Chambers once said, “Prayer does not fit us for the greater works; prayer is the greater work.”
You might be in a really good place in your prayer life right now. Maybe not. But we can always have a stronger, more intimate time with God in prayer. Let’s look at some ways we can honestly, full-mindedly, and full-heartedly approach the Creator of the universe, who loves us and wants to answer our prayers.
Let’s look at James 5:13-18: “Is anyone among you suffering? He should pray. Is anyone in good spirits? He should sing praises. Is anyone among you ill? He should summon the elders of the church, and they should pray for him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick and the Lord will raise him up – and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. So confess your sins to one another and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great effectiveness. Elijah was a human beinglike us, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain and there was no rain on the land for three years and six months! Then he prayed again, and the sky gave rain and the land sprouted with a harvest.”
Now, let’s dig into what that means for us:
• When have you seen a direct answer to prayer, in your life or someone else’s? How were you changed by witnessing that?
• Now, think about a time of personal drought in your life — material, spiritual or emotional. What was it like? What ended that drought? How did you see God’s faithfulness during (or despite) that time?
• What prayer or prayers have you been praying for a long time now? Have you ever felt like giving up on those prayers? What keeps you going?
You could have a whole night’s conversation on those three questions alone. I know; I’ve seen it happen more than once.
So here’s your assignment: Work through those questions in your small group, or find at least 1 or 2 more people you can make time to talk this out with. When you’re done talking, take some time to pray for one another. Don’t rush it. Start with a time of praise and thanksgiving. Thank God for who He is and how He’s been there for you and the others you’re with. Then join together in lifting up those long-time prayers you’ve been bringing to God. Share the burdens that each of you have been carrying. Pray for encouragement for these people who have been faithfully taking these requests to God.
Then watch what God does.