After Having spent time with God in quiet and in Scripture, you are in a position to pray with spiritual wisdom and power. Biblical prayer comes from hearts that are shaped by the Scriptures and enriched by meditation.
Prayer is very simple but amazingly difficult. It is something a newborn believer in Christ can do from the very first. Yet it requires lifelong effort. The greatest saints struggle with it. How should we approach God? What should we say? How should we say it? What right do we have to ask God for anything? How do we know that he will answer?
Prayer can be thought of broadly as communion with God, and more narrowly as asking God for help. Telling God what you need is simple in concept but not necessarily in practice. When I pray, I admit that I face problems that are beyond me. I need God’s help. The prayers of the Bible include many petitions for help—Abraham seeking a son, David crying out for deliverance from his enemies, Nehemiah asking for help in rebuilding Jerusalem.
We are to pray in Jesus’ name. Jesus told the disciples, “You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it” (Jn 14:14). This means much more than slapping the liturgical formula “In Jesus’ name, Amen” onto the end of our prayers. To understand the meaning of this, we need to put Jesus’ teaching in context. It was the night before the crucifixion, and the disciples were overwhelmed with the weight of the moment. How could they carry on without Jesus? The answer was prayer. Jesus assured them that they could ask for help to do the work that he gave them. They were to ask in Jesus’ name, meaning that they were committed to doing Jesus’ work and fulfilling his commission.
When you and I pray in Jesus’ name, we join in the mission. We are making a commitment to do what He wants Christians to do until he returns. Before we pray we must ask ourselves, Do our motives align with his kingdom? This way of praying turns us away from self-centeredness. We can ask for our personal needs, but we must remember that the focus of our lives is obedience to the will of our Lord, not personal gratification. “Not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42).
It is helpful to use a list when we pray. “Aim at nothing and you are sure to hit it,” the old saying goes. If we don’t have a list, our prayers will probably be wandering, unfocused and haphazard. A prayer list can be as sophisticated as index cards with pictures of people you pray for, or it can be jottings on a sheet of paper. The first couple of pages in the front of my journal contain the names of people I am praying for or issues I am concerned about. As my prayers are answered, I put a mark and a date by my request. God answers prayer all the time, but we often miss this because we aren’t looking. When you pray daily and keep a list, you will be able to recognize answers when they come.
There are two extremes to avoid in making a list—being too general or too specific. We can take a cue from the Lord’s Prayer. Your specific requests need not be detailed. Tell God what you want. Don’t say it repeatedly. Don’t elaborate. Just tell him. Pray for one entry on your list, then move on to the next. Jesus cautions against praying like the pagans who think they will be heard because of their many words (Mt 6:7–8). God knows what we need before we even ask. Our prayers are to seek his help, not to inform him or manipulate him.
Our need for daily bread may be expressed as balancing our bank account or seeking a raise. Forgiveness of sins may mean seeking forgiveness for harboring anger toward your spouse or friend. Deliverance from temptation may require keeping a chaste attitude toward someone at work or not fudging on the expense account.
Praying also requires persistence. We must pray repeatedly until we sense that God answers our prayer in one way or another. Those who pray must learn to wait—sometimes for months, sometimes for years. I wonder what Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, felt when the angel showed up in the temple and announced that a prayer of his had been answered. “Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son” (Luke 1:13). By that time Zechariah and Elizabeth were far beyond childbearing age.
Waiting on the Lord takes us to the heart of prayer. God works according to his time, not our convenience. We are humbled. But God meets our needs as we wait, giving us refreshment for body and soul. Isaiah writes, “Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Is 40:31).
A great spiritual exercise is to restrict your prayers to questions for a week or so. Don’t ask God to do anything. Just ask him questions. This exercise reminds us that God knows what needs to be done. Our requests can be short and to the point, as Jesus teaches us to pray (Mt 6:5–13).
Putting It All Together
How long does such a quiet time last? As long as an hour or more, or as little as twenty-five minutes. The goal is balance. You probably won’t include all four elements every day. You may spend most of your quiet time settling in and reading Scripture on one day and meditating through a passage and praying on the next.
Keep in mind as well that to focus on one element for an extended period is not healthy. It shouldn’t be all Bible study or all prayer or all getting settled. Imagine eating only steak for two months—or only fruit. Although your quiet time will occasionally seem like a duty, that should not be the norm. Meeting with God should include expectation, excitement and desire.
Guided Quiet Time
Security in the Lord (Psalm 30:6–12)
Occasionally I experience what I call the “jerked rug” phenomenon. It happens when I am feeling pretty good about myself, a bit too good. When the rug gets pulled and I stumble, I find that I am not quite as clever or as wise as I thought. As I am forced to face my limitations, I experience anew the wonderful grace of a God who is there to give security far beyond my own capacity.
Ever have a closet so full of clutter that you were afraid to open it? Often our hearts are like closets into which we throw unwanted feelings and unsatisfied desires. We avoid opening the door because everything will come tumbling out. If our hearts are similarly cluttered, the spiritual and emotional dimension of life is lost. Take some time now to open up your heart. Allow things to fall out. Ask God to help you clean them up. Write down what desires, hurts and concerns you may find. After you have done that, sit in quiet anticipation of what God will do.
- Read Psalm 30:6–12. How do verses 6 and 7 describe David’s sense of dependence on God?
- What reasons does David present to God in favor of his deliverance (9–10)?
- Look over the entire psalm. How would you describe David’s relationship with God?
- Difficult circumstances can cause us to reflect on the character of God. How have the circumstances of your life affected your relationship with God?
- David expresses some of the ups and downs of his life. Consider the last six to twelve months of your life and then chart your ups and downs.
- Meditate through the ups and downs, picturing the Lord with you through each phase. Once you have done that, write down your insights and emotions.
Ask God to give you the courage to face the unpleasant experiences of life that may be important but unresolved.
Ask God to give the members of your church the courage to face unresolved conflicts.
Ask God to bring the nations to face the unpleasant experiences of life that produce conflict.
Pray often to God, in the name of Jesus and to His glory in the Spirit of the Holy Spirit.
In other words:
- Pray to God.
- Say the things you want to pray about or ask about.
- End by praying in Jesus name and to his glory through the power of The Holy Spirit.
Prayer does not exist unto itself. Prayer is simply what happens when we go before our Father in heaven to praise Him and ask for His help.
God is testing us every day and has given us the right to make our own choices. Do you know which ones are the right choices in Gods mind?
Fear God, love God, honor God, and trust God with all your heart, mind and soul and you will receive and experience the joy of the promises of God’s blessings in His time.
Prayer: Father in heaven, I praise You for Your Son and the Holy Spirit. I praise You for Your grace in sending us Your wisdom about “Praying and Waiting on the Lord. Please bless those who have read this article for they too are seeking Your righteous truth, love, wisdom and understanding.
May God, Jesus, The Holy Spirit and Christianity be our guiding lights, our safety nets and our inspiration for loving happiness in all of Your kingdom. Father into your hands I commend my spirit. Not my will, but Yours be done. Please come Lord Jesus.
I pray in Jesus sweet name and to His glory through the power of the Holy Spirit,