Friday, April 5, 2013

Learning To Pray 101

To pray one must have faith, discipline and practice. I will begin with these three things in coaching how to pray. I can only help because I have run into all the floundering difficulties myself and continue to need to be reminded of these basic principles.



Praying takes faith- believing God is Who He says He is in the Bible and that what He says about life and us is true.

Prayer also takes persevering discipline to push through the instinct to get up and to be busy about the day or to go back to bed.

Finally, praying is a skill learned -just like every other form of communication- and therefore it takes practice.

FAITH

When you kneel to pray (or you may sit or lay prostrate before the Lord or any other position), you will commonly be bombarded with so many thoughts. Some will be doubts. Others will be things you need to do. Hopeful some will be longings to be with God and things you want to pray about--focus your attention on these things.

An excellent way to bring yourself into the presence of God is with music or reading of the Bible. Your ability to imagine - to see and think upon God and the things of God will be important in giving your brain something to focus on. So a song or a passage in Scripture can help you to fill your thoughts with God. Allow yourself to see images of what comes to the forefront of your thinking.

It is not uncommon to be bombarded with sin, images that are not pure and even some that are perverse when you are starting to learn to pray. You are a sinner saved, not a virgin-born perfect child of God like Jesus. You have a past and it will take time for sins to reduce in size until its memory is a burden no more. Cover those imagines or thoughts with the  blood of Christ--literally see the blood of Christ pour from the cross dripping onto and engulfing them. You will see how quickly the power of Christ's blood is in your life! If the enemy taunts, you gently but firmly remind him that he must leave "in the name of Jesus and the blood of Jesus." Tell him to be silent and repeat this phrase - by it - he must obey and go.

God says we are to pray to Him. Therefore you must approach prayer with at least a mustard seed size of faith believing if He asks us to do something that it is real and that He will teach us how.

Would He ask us to do something that is not possible? Certainly not!

So when you kneel to pray, come with confidence that HE is waiting and wanting you to do so. He is the one able to make prayer possible - your faith is in HIS ability, not yours. (that should take some pressure off!) God makes prayer a reality in our life. Do not forget if you are saved--born from above--trusting God as your Lord in your life and your Savior of your sins--you are the temple of God and the Holy Spirit dwells in you. I know this is hard to believe, but if God says it is true--it is so!

You might want to start with a simple statement: Dear LORD, teach me to pray and help my unbelief.

Praising goes hand in hand with prayer and is the way we are ushered into God's presence and the way we get satan/his minions to flee. So lift up praises to God. Worship Him. Thank Him for all the good He is and has done. Love on Him lavishly and let Him respond to your affections with His Words of love. Prayer is a two-way communication.

Perseverance

Resist the impulse to quickly finish. Train yourself to remain before God 5, 10, or 15 minutes gradually growing. Even if both-you and God-are silent, be still and know that you are with God. Wait on Him. Nothing in your life is more important than God - give HIM some time in your day. Just as when you begin exercising you will quickly want to quit--to throw in the towel but I say, "Sit on the towel so you can't toss it!" (in a figurative sense, or literal as it might be helpful to you).

Allow God you lead your prayer time. He may bring up things. Let Him speak to you. If He addresses an area of sin, agree with Him that it is indeed sin and repent: asking forgiveness and determining to turn away from it and to sin no more. If He brings up things to do or that are undone, receive instruction on the steps He wants you to take. (Having a notebook to jot down things is very important during prayer.)

 If people come to mind pray for them. Allow the Holy Spirit to guide you in how to pray for a person; pray His will and purpose for them -not yours. And if it is a person you have a conflict with, again as in other areas of sin, ask God to forgive you and to help you deal with this person in the way He would desire. Release this person from any obligation they might owe you and let God be the one they are accountable to for repentance and restoration (even for punishment)--not you. God says, "Vengeance is mine." Let Him be God in your life over all things and people. 

Over time--in other blog posts-- I will give more ideas and instruction in prayer, but this is enough to get started. Do not think you are not praying if you are in meditative silence. Let your mind clear of the clutter and to fill of God's goodness. Waiting on God is a simple but essential step in prayer.

Practice

Prayer is a new skill you are acquiring. We don't speak a foreign language without taking the time to learn and to practice. Praying is a foreign language to sinful man. You will have to be willing to invest time. You will blunder through many beginnings. You will be frustrated and feel like you are getting nowhere. These are all common to learning anything new. 

God instructs us to be like little children. Think about how little children find faith easy and rarely question the existence of God or the ability to pray. Do you ever hear a little child see a table of paint and brushes lament that they can't draw or paint? Of course, not.

 As we grow older, we become more critical of ourselves and want to do things perfect or not at all. In the process of learning to pray, you will have to push through this kind of thinking and to continue to practice daily or even a few times a day. Starting your morning and ending your evening in prayer are both excellent beginning steps.

If you were going to learn to play a musical instrument or a computer software program, you would set aside several frequent and consistent times to learn. Prayer is no different. It is important, so make time. You will be more than blessed for the minutes you give to being in the presence of the God who created the universe and YOU!



If you have questions or comments, I will respond.  I plan on writing several more blog posts on prayer to help as many as possible to enjoy the gift we have in spending one on one time with God.

Truly there is so much we have to learn! 

If you are struggling it might help to read this post I wrote earlier.

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