This simple blog is devoted to the greatest privilege that man has ever been given; PRAYER.
My mentor’s son was an evangelist for whom I served, doing household chores. Throughout the day I would stop to pray with him and his wife, and we saw many miraculous answers. Eventually the evangelist decided to rent a house to use for prayer. He asked me if I would be willing to pray between four and six hours a day. Excitedly, I responded, “I’ll take six!”
The evangelist wisely suggested I start with four, and I’m glad he did. I’ll never forget that first day. I walked into the prayer house, closed the door behind me and sighed, “Oh Lord, here we are, just You and me.” I dropped to the floor and began to pour my heart out in prayer. I prayed and prayed until I found myself laying there in a state of exhaustion. When I looked at my watch, I thought the battery was running down. Could it be that I had only prayed for 15 minutes! I began again. I prayed for everyone I knew. Then I prayed the Lord’s prayer—I even sang the Lord’s prayer. I looked at my watch again, only 42 minutes had passed. I couldn’t believe it! Finally I cried out to God. “Lord, teach me to pray.”
I understood for the first time the frustration and anxieties of Jesus’ disciples, who walked with Him daily but knew that they did not have what He had in terms of communication with the Father. Each one of us must come to a point where we too cry out to God, “Lord, teach me to pray.” Learning to pray begins by making the choice to be alone with Him.
The account of Jesus and His disciples at Gethsemane clearly shows that Jesus did not hesitate to ask His followers to pray with Him for “one hour,” and that this was a perfectly legitimate request. Yet, at the time He most needed and desired their support, they disappointed Him. Surely it must still disappoint our Lord when His followers put sleep and other activities above a desire to pray and spend time with Him.
One pastor has said, “When you come to the place where you can tarry with the Lord one hour, something supernatural happens. You begin to understand the character and purposes of God, and to experience the anointing ofthe power of God as never before.”
If making a commitment to pray one hour a day seems too difficult, begin by praying 15 minutes a day, then strive to increase your prayer time.
As you pray, a basic question may come to mind: How long should I spend for each person or subject?The following are some suggestions:
If an answer is long in coming, be tenacious and follow the example of the widow in Luke 18:
Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart, saying, “There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God, and did not respect man. And there was a widow in that city, and she kept coming to him, saying, ‘Give me legal protection from my opponent.’ And for a while he was unwilling; but afterward he said to himself, ‘Even though I do not fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow bothers me, I will give her legal protection, lest by continually coming she wear me out.'” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge said; now shall not God bring about justice for His elect, who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them? I tell you that He will bring about justice for them speedily. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” (vv. 1-8).
Prayer is only vain repetition when you speak empty words without faith behind them, or if you ask with a wrong motivation.
The word “bothers” (see v. 5) comes from a Greek word meaning “to beat the breast in grief; to lament or mourn; to give trouble to.” The idea is to pray persistently and tenaciously.
When a response is delayed, continue to hold fast in prayer, like the widow in Luke 18. Do not cast away your confidence as you wait on the Lord; if you grow weary and give up, the fruit of your prayer can be aborted (see Gal. 6:9). Remember the words ofJesus:
“Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks finds and to him who knocks it shall be opened (Matt. 7:7,8).
Therefore, keep on asking, keep on seeking, keep on knocking—keep on!
Is all this asking what the Bible refers to as “vain repetitions” or lack of faith? No! This kind of repetition is not wrong as long as it is spoken in faith. Prayer is only vain repetition when you speak empty words without faith behind them, or if you ask with a wrong motivation (see Jas. 4:3).
Jesus Himself gives us a good example of being tenacious and asking with the right motive. During His Gethsemane ordeal, it is written that Jesus specifically prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as Thou wilt” (Matt, 26:39).
Jesus made this same request three times:
And again He went away and prayed, saying the same words (Mark 14:39).
And He left them again, and went away and prayed a third time, saying the same thing once more (Matt. 26:44).
Charles Spurgeon said, “By perseverance the snail reached the ark.”1 Keep praying until the Lord says it’s time to quit!
Excerpt from Chapter 2 (Teach me to pray) of “Becoming a Prayer Warrior” by Elizabeth Alves