There is nothing new under the sun that I can write on prayer! I would guess that there are thousands of books and articles written on the subject. I can only write about prayer as I see it, benefit from it, practice it, and answers I receive and don’t receive!
There are countless ways to pray … bowing, kneeling, standing, sitting, hugging your knees, laying in bed, face in the carpet crying your eyes out … you name it … you can pray at any time in any way!
Any time is conducive to prayer … driving (keep your eyes on the road!), ironing, washing dishes (if not using the dishwasher!) cooking, working … much of this would be the “praying without ceasing”. Praying without ceasing can be confusing to some thinking “I can’t pray all the time … I have to work, tend the children, read, etc.” but I believe it is an attitude of prayerfulness that we can have at all times in all circumstances (now I need to practice what I preach!)
Because I have many sleepless nights and sometimes find it hard to get out of bed (I know the sleep articles say if you don’t fall asleep within 20 minutes … get out of bed! yeah, right!) I often have thought or silent prayer times. If I prayed out loud I would wake up my husband! Here is why I believe it is an OK way to pray … since God already knows the thoughts and intents of my heart … He knows/hears my prayers. I can unburden my heart to Him knowing that He hears and cares.
Satan can come and tempt me with thoughts that are not godly or are unwholesome but I can resist them. Thoughts that Satan brings are not sin UNLESS I entertain them and then they become sin. So the first thing to do when evil thoughts come to mind is to resist them as Jesus did … He used scripture … “It is written” (Matthew 4). We are also instructed in the Word of God to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). I also like the picture I have of the helmet of salvation which covers my mind and protects my thought life.
Thought prayers can sometimes then help to put me to sleep! 🙂
However, thought prayers should never take the place of sincere, out loud, gut-level prayer. There will be times when nothing will do like being on your face crying out to God! David did! Psalm 77:1, “I cried out to God for help; I cried out to God to hear me.” Whether this was a cry from his heart or actual tears I don’t know but there is a place for tears and crying out to God in prayer.
I have also found it effective to pray either bowing or kneeling (if your knees allow it!). There is just something in my spirit that responds to that posture … maybe it’s the act of submission. Bowing is an act also of honor to one of greater authority or power.
Now here is another aspect of prayer that is much overlooked … silence! Listen for and listen to His voice. I think we say too much and listen too little. We would not have the Bible today if the thirty-five people who wrote the sixty-six books had not been quiet enough to hear the voice of God! God speaks to us through His Word but I have also experienced times when in quietness and silence before Him I have “heard” Him speak to me in my spirit … I knew it wasn’t just my thoughts … but His thoughts!
One thing that used to bother me … what does it means when Jesus said in Matthew 6:7, “… do not use vain repetitions …”? I often pray the same thing over and over! The repetition is for MY benefit … to keep my mind on the need before me. Obviously, He knows it already but praying it once and leaving it alone is not “whatever will be, will be”! To me the “vain” part is praying by route, to be seen or heard by others, to become puffed up thinking that by my much praying God will answer!
There was a time in my life when I couldn’t pray anymore. I was prayed out over a certain matter and I simply just could not form any more words. I took a hymn book and read many of the hymns and said to God, “I can’t pray anymore so here are my prayers!” And I also used printed prayers. NO … that is not wrong! After all, the prayers in the Bible that we are encouraged to use … are printed!
Before I stop let me also mention the privilege we have of praying in the Spirit or as we pentecostals say, “speaking in tongues”. It is real! Ephesians 6:18, “Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion.” Jude 20, “… pray in the Holy Spirit”. I Corinthians 14:15, “I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding …”. Praying in tongues is praying from the spirit instead of the intellect and the same goes for singing! And the awesome thing to me is that this is a heavenly spiritual language and the devil cannot understand what you are praying!
I literally would not be here today without prayer that was offered to God for me. Grandma Kopp was awakened early one morning when I was in my early thirties with the admonition from God, “Pray for your grandchildren”. Grandma prayed and early that afternoon I was saved from a near-drowning. I personally know the power of answered prayer … I’ve been the recipient and have seen God answer many of my prayers.
Finally, let me say again … what kinds of prayers are there? Private, corporate (Queen Esther asked for others to join her, and although “prayer” is not listed they fasted and that most often goes with prayer), silent, gut-wrenching fervent crying out to God, praying in the Spirit, listening, family praying, without ceasing, written (and I encourage you to write out your own prayers!). Ask the Lord to invade your thoughts!
You may not be able to travel the world and preach the gospel but your prayers can! Don’t just pray for what concerns you … pray what concerns the Father’s heart!
We CAN have the mind of Christ in our praying. One of my often quoted scriptures to myself is Isaiah 26:3, “You (God) will keep him (me) in perfect peace (yikes I need that!) whose mind is stayed on You (God, because he (me) trusts in You (God).”
“Pray hardest when it’s hardest to pray”
“Don’t expect a thousand-dollar answer to a ten-cent prayer”
“I need to stop talking about prayer — and pray.” Bertha Munro