“Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart.”
If there was one thing that I treasure most about my walk as a Christian, it is prayer. Not to say that everything else about it is less essential; but, for reasons I am not yet entirely privy to, God has used prayer to draw me closer to Him. He has revealed Himself to me often through this medium.
Before I was saved, someone fasted and prayed for me. I found out about it in a month or so after I was baptized. As a Christian, all of the major decisions I made in the last seven years birthed out of fasting and praying. The most significant by far of these decisions was going to China that eventually led to my marriage and prompted my move to Thailand to be in full-time ministry. When I experience an outpouring of blessings, I pray knowing all too well that it is God displaying His love for me. When I am plagued with troubles, I pray acknowledging His sovereignty and crying out for His mercy to deliver me. Needless to say, prayer takes up a huge role in my walk with the Lord.
I have read many books on prayer; still there is much to learn and much that I don’t understand. Prayer is such a deep well that I am not sure if I will ever thoroughly decipher it. But that’s okay because I know enough to keep me wanting more. However, I do want to share one practical thing about prayer that I recently unraveled.
When I experience an outpouring of blessings, I pray knowing all too well that it is God displaying His love for me. When I am plagued with troubles, I pray acknowledging His sovereignty and crying out for His mercy to deliver me. Needless to say, prayer takes up a huge role in my walk with the Lord.
I once met a woman who seems to naturally radiate Jesus’ love. She speaks of and about Jesus as though He is right there talking to her personally. In meeting her, I began to yearn for a deeper relationship with Him. This seeking to grow deeper in Jesus led me to a realization: Prayer is simply talking with Jesus anytime, anywhere. I didn’t need to have a schedule. I didn’t need to physically pose a certain form to do it. I didn’t need to have all the right words.
Every so often, I make prayer as though it ought to be done only at a certain point of the day or at a specific occasion within the boundaries of the allotted amount of minutes I set for it. I schedule it around other pressing appointments, perhaps even consider it at times as a chore to tick off my list. Sometimes, I make it too serious and too formal as though it can’t be done otherwise.
While I still believe that it’s vital to establish a consistent time to pray and commune with God and install a form of solemnity with it, like doing my personal quiet time or gathering with a group to call upon God, I think prayer should be done a lot more frequently and probably more in less likely times and places all throughout the day. Prayer, I have come to consider, is more like having an ongoing daily conversation with Jesus than having a once-a-day or once-a-week rendezvous with Him.
I am in the beginning stages of practicing this fresh discovery. Through this, I am learning to talk to God more frequently than I used to. I am learning to shift the focus of my mind onto Him instead of harmful conjectures of circumstances, people, or even myself.
What I Do
How many of you think bad thoughts on a given day? Or on a given hour? Not intentionally at all times, but wicked thoughts somehow find their way into our heads without warning. This year I started forming a habit to help me break free from these unpleasant moments: I began praying to Jesus using Scripture. (This is not something I came up with on my own although I made some personal tweaks to it; I learned it from one of my favorite Bible teachers, Beth Moore.)
I have been memorizing verses from the Bible on the first and fifteenth day of each month. I started with some familiar verses here and there. Then a few months ago, I decided to memorize Psalm 91 for the whole year. Now I am not sharing this to flaunt my superior memory. In fact, I can’t quite figure out how to store information long-term in my head. I forget too often, too quickly. I regularly find myself in embarrassing situations because of it. Ha!
Without fail, I swiftly forget about the corrupt thoughts I had. They simply escape my attention, and they don’t get the chance to make a nest in my head.
Anyway, here’s what I do with these verses: Whenever I start to think corrupt thoughts, the Holy Spirit reminds me to pray. I then recall the Scriptures that I have been working on over and over again so I eventually memorize them (solution to my forgetfulness!), or I open my Bible to remind me of these verses if I can’t recall them at all. I pray these Scriptures back to Jesus and talk with Him. It’s like speaking to Him what He has spoken to me. I do it sporadically all day as often as my thoughts sway to bad images; so this could be happening while I am driving, cooking dinner, or even talking to someone. Without fail, I swiftly forget about the corrupt thoughts I had. They simply escape my attention, and they don’t get the chance to make a nest in my head.
I wish I had known of this before. I wish I had been able to practice it before I had caused many a person pain and avoided much of it myself for recklessly acting on many rotten thoughts that festered badly in my heart; unfortunately, it wasn’t the case.
But now that I do, I want to share this with you and to challenge you to do the same. (Trust me, you will save yourself from a lot of grief.) Begin practicing praying Scripture and talking with Jesus as though He is right beside you wherever you are and whatever you are doing. After all, He is. And He hears you.
So, how about you: What does prayer look like to you?
September 02, 2015