IS IT TIME TO PRAY?

The title of this post is not hard to answer, is it? Of course it’s time to pray; for Christians it is always time to pray! There are occasions, situations, circumstances, and seasons when our prayers are more intense, but as children of God and followers of Jesus we are a people who are invited, encouraged, and taught to pray. Ecclesiastes 3:1 tells us “there is a time for everything,” To borrow from that, I’m thinking “anytime and all the time is a time to pray.”

The record of the life and ministry of Jesus in the Gospels makes it clear Jesus was a person of prayer. Three passages especially get my attention:

“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed” (Mark 1:35).

“One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God” (Luke 6:12).

“One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples’” (Luke 11:1).

Jesus has not only set the example for us, by his example he has given us direction.

We’re not surprised that the Apostle Paul, the most prolific writer in the New Testament, also set the example and gives us direction. Reinforcing the point of this blog, Paul challenges us:

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people” (Ephesians 6:18).

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (I Thessalonians 5:16-18).

Paul also models for us asking for prayer from other believers in Romans 15:20, “I urge you, brothers and sisters, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me.”

Yes, it is a time to pray, and it is always a time for believers to pray. To repeat what I wrote in the first paragraph is this post: there are occasions, situations, circumstances, and seasons when our prayers are more intense. I think we all will agree we are now in one of those situations and seasons. Right now our list of people and needs to pray for is longer than it usually is. I encourage you to reread the passages quoted above and follow the examples and instructions of both Jesus and Paul.

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SHAKE UP YOUR PRAYER SEQUENCE

While praying and trying to put into practice the call to “delight in the LORD” (see last week’s post) I stumbled into a sequence I found helpful and rewarding. It certainly isn’t in league with the model prayer Jesus gave us, and I don’t know that I will follow it often, but that morning it worked for me in a way that refreshed my time with the Lord in prayer. As I was praying four lines of thought came to me that formed my prayer.

LORD, I LOVE YOU . . .

In reflecting on the idea of delighting in the Lord I simply told Him I loved Him. In doing that it occurred to me that I probably don’t express my love to Him often enough. I don’t know why, but I proceeded to directly address each member of the Trinity telling the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit each separately of my love.

LORD, I THANK YOU . . .

As I reflected on my love for the Lord I was reminded of how thankful I should be and am. Once I began noting specifics for which I am thankful my prayer of thanksgiving began to flow. I listed things any of us would mention, but then continued by thanking God for a variety of things I tend to take for granted and do not often express gratitude for.

LORD, I PRAISE YOU . . .

Having spent time thanking the Lord I was reminded of a distinction I learned many years ago between gratitude and worship. It isn’t that the two don’t go together, but I remember hearing someone suggest we thank God for what He does for us, but we worship Him for who He is.  So I began to tell the Lord I praised Him and worshipped Him and honored Him for who He was. And I returned to directly addressing again each member of the Trinity noting specifically how I praised each.

LORD, I ASK YOU . . .

To be honest I surprised myself that I prayed as long as I did before I got to asking God for things. So often in my prayers I get to asking Him about things pretty quickly but on this morning it took a while. I still had a number of requests, but coming to the requests after the first three parts of my prayer made my asking seem different. Like pretty much everyone who will read this post, I have some troubling and heavy issues I took to the Lord. I’m not aware of any instantaneous resolutions that came about, but I did have a greater sense of comfort and calm about things.

I don’t know if what I have relayed to you is something you will want to try or not. What I do know is that thinking about and trying to put into practice the Psalmist’s call to “delight in the LORD” has made and will continue to make a difference in my prayer life.

Respond with any comments below and feel free to share this post.

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