This past Sunday, we kicked off a new series at Grace Life on “The Parables of Jesus”. John MacArthur defines a parable as “ingeniously simple word pictures with profound spiritual lessons”. Jesus used these incredible stories to help illustrate what he was teaching about God, salvation, and grace.
The first parable we looked at was the Parable of the Persistent Friend in Luke 11:1-13. Jesus shares this parable after the disciples ask him, “Lord, teach us to pray”. Jesus gives them a model prayer (also known as The Lord’s Prayer) and then uses the parable to show them their need for prayer, what they should pray, and that God is always available, attentive, and aware. You can listen to the sermon here.
I can’t assume that everyone knows what prayer is. I believe it’s more than just talking to God; it’s an act of worship. Tim Keller writes in his incredible book on prayer,
What is prayer, then, in the fullest sense? Prayer is continuing a conversation that God has started through his Word and his grace, which eventually becomes a full encounter with him. . . . The power of our prayers, then, lies not primarily in our effort and striving, or in any technique, but rather in our knowledge of God.
One of the most common questions I hear is “How can I develop a consistent prayer life”? I want to help answer that question by giving you a five helpful ways to develop a habit of prayer.
Pray for a passion for God.
The disciples seemingly plead with Jesus to teach them to pray after witnessing first hand how Jesus communed with God the Father. The Lord’s Prayer is design to help us see our need for God and to develop a yearning for Him and his glory. This is why Jesus starts with “Father”. Prayer is about God and prayer comes out of a passion to know God.
I don’t believe the problem with our prayer life is a lack of time or an uncertainty on what to say, but ultimately a heart problem. We don’t have a passion for God or the things of God like we ought. We don’t have a desire to spend time with our Father. We see other things more important when in reality, prayer is, as Martin Luther once said, “To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible then to be alive without breathing.”
We need to pray that God will fill us with the Holy Spirit and to give us a desire to know him and to have our eyes enlightened to the hope he has given us through Jesus. (Ephesians 1:16-18)
Again, Tim Keller states, “To fail to pray then, is not merely to break some religious rule – it is failure to treat God as God.” He goes on to say, “Prayer is awe, intimacy, struggle – yet the way to reality. There is nothing more important, or harder, or richer, or more life altering. There is absolutely nothing so great as prayer.”
Pray through and out of God’s Word.
We learn of God through the Scriptures. We learn of grace and salvation through Jesus. We learn how to rely on him daily for joy, peace, and forgiveness. We learn from God’s Word that we are to pray according to God’s will (Luke 22:42; Matthew 7:7-8).
In Ephesians 6:18-19, Paul encourages us to pray for the Holy Spirit to directly use God’s Word in our lives. Our prayers are strengthened when we know who God is and when we know who God is, then we will undoubtedly see our need for prayer.
There are many sections of Scripture that can be prayed to God. Scriptures such as Philippians 3:10 and Psalm 90:14. In fact, there are plenty of Psalms that can be turned into daily prayers.
Rely on the Holy Spirit.
We cannot rely on our own efforts to develop a consistent prayer life; we must rely on the Holy Spirit. Jesus tells his disciples in John 14:26 that the Holy Spirit will help us remember what we have learned from God’s Word.
God has given us the Spirit to help us. Any endeavor without relying on the Spirit’s help and guidance will only lead to failure. If we want to develop a consistent prayer life, then we must rely on the power of the Holy Spirit.
Find a time to pray.
Once we see our need for prayer and that our lack of prayer stems from a lack of passion for God, we can then begin to incorporate helpful practices.
One such practice is find a time to pray. Notice I didn’t say find time. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 encourages us to pray without ceasing and if we have to “make time” to pray, then we’re trying to cram something very important into our busy schedules.
Finding a time to pray where there are no distractions or interruptions is what we are looking to find. More than likely this is early in the morning before the kids are up, before our meetings begin, before the emails start cluttering out inboxes, and before we get our day going.
There is good in starting your day with Jesus. Psalm 63:1-3 encourages us to start our days with Jesus. To pray for your day to be honoring to Christ, to take opportunities to share the Gospel, to encourage people to look to Jesus, and for your work to be for the glory of God allows us to start our day with our eyes fixed on Jesus. (Hebrews 3:1)
Pray out loud.
One thing that has tremendously helped my prayer life is simply praying out loud. I don’t think there is any biblical grounds for this, but if you want to try something to help you in your praying, try this. If you are like me, then you have a hard time staying focused when your praying; especially if your prayers are not vocalized. I start thinking about everything else in life when I should be focusing on God.
When I started praying out loud, my focus was on what I was saying. Hearing what I was saying to God made such a difference in my praying. On a side note, my kids get to hear me pray. I want them to see and develop a habit of God-centered prayer.
Remember that prayer doesn’t change God, it changes you.
We can never forget that Jesus’ model prayer helps us see how much we need God. He is our Father, our sovereign King, our Provider, our forgiver, and He is the one who leads us. The more we pray for God’s will to be done, the more we will long for God then the things we believe we need. We’ll realize that what we truly need is more of God.
It’s truly remarkable that the Creator God bends his ear to us. It is a privilege to speak to our King and it is a wonderful gift of grace that we must learn to use each and every day.