D.L. Moody once said, "God is not bothered by our constant coming and asking. The way to trouble God is not to come at all."
Prayer should be like breathing for the Christian. No day can be boring when God is in it, and God is in all our seemingly insignificant moments in life. (see Psalm 37:23)
Prayer enables us to not simply be victims of this world, but to instead be victors. We can move heaven and earth with our prayers, because prayer moves the hand of God on our behalf. E.M. Bounds has said...
"The gospel of Christ does not move by popular waves, it has no self propagating power. It moves as the people who carry it move."
The people who carry the gospel move through constant prayer and dependence on God.
Here are 5 of the most powerful lessons I've ever learned about prayer. These 5 ways to pray can super-charge your faith, and have a huge impact on the world around you:
1. "Mountain Moving" prayers
Our prayers should not be limited to miniscule, unimportant matters. It's like it's been said: If God answered all your prayers this week, would it just change you, or would it change the world around you?
Because our God is a big God, we should concern ourselves with the bigger picture. We serve a God who has said, "Listen! The LORD's arm is not too short to save, nor is his ear too deaf to hear you call." (Isaiah 59:1)
Jesus taught saying, "I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it would move. Nothing would be impossible." (Matthew 17:20)
We serve a mountain moving God! A God who does impossible things on a regular basis. When is the last time you prayed for something as impossible as moving a mountain?
We should regularly pray prayers that are so audacious that only God could accomplish them.
What happens when we only pray small prayers? Does that require faith? Does that really require God to intervene?
On the other hand, audacious prayers could never be accomplished unless God did something only He could do. The Christian's prayer life should rest far more on the mountain moving side of the spectrum.
But here's the thing about audacious prayers:
- Audacious prayers are rarely answered instantaneously - they require wrestling and doing business with God over a long period of time.
- Audacious prayers retain the possibility of greater disappointment if God answers differently than you are asking. But they honor God nonetheless.
2. "As Long As It Takes" prayers
Mark Batterson wrote in one of his books how we need to stop praying ASAP (as soon as possible) prayers, and instead start praying ALAIT (as long as it takes) prayers. This is biblical.
There's nothing wrong with asking God to move quickly (David prayed this all the time in the Psalms), there is a clear precedent from Scripture that God not only works through our prayers, but He is also works on us as we pray - and this often means it takes time, patience and persistence to see the answer come through.
The book of Daniel contains a powerful illustration of Daniel praying and fasting for 3 weeks, until an answer is given. The angel of the Lord tells him that as soon as Daniel started to pray, the answer had been given from heaven, but there was a war in the heavenlies that caused it to take longer to arrive. We often have no clue how much God is at work through our prayers!
Jesus actually taught us to pray like this. In Luke 18, Jesus tells his disciples a story "To show them that they should always pray and not give up." He goes on to explain the power of persistent prayer. God want us to always pray, and not give up! Is there a prayer you've been praying, that you've recently given up hope on? Keep on praying! Jesus wants you to. He wouldn't have given us this story if he didn't.
We often want instant results from God, but God wants patience and endurance from us. It is difficult to overestimate the biblical importance of patience and endurance in maturing our faith. The Bible has a lot to say about this. (see 2 Peter 1:4-8; Romans 5:3-5; James 1:2-4)
3. "My God Can, But Even if He Doesn't" prayers
One of the powerful stories from the Bible is Shadrach, Meshac and Abendego in the fiery furnace for not bowing down to King Nebuchadnezzar's idol. They miraculously survived, but nearly as surprising is what these men of faith taught us before they were thrown in, "King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” (Daniel 3:16-18)
This can super-charge your prayer life! I know my God is able to do the impossible, but even if he doesn't, I will serve him and follow Him only! This kind of praying offers supreme submission and faith in God, and he is greatly honored by this kind of praying.
A similar way to pray this is like my older brother Jon prayed as he dealt with a serious sickness in his twenties - "either way I win." He was praying for God to heal him, but he knew that eventually he would be fully restored and given a glorified body in heaven someday, so truly all of us who trust in Christ can say as we pray, "either way I win."
4. "Blessing, Not Cursing" prayers
The Apostle Paul was badly persecuted throughout his gospel ministry. He had people who would follow him around to try to stir up dissension, harm him, and try to shut him down from preaching about Jesus.
So it might shock you that it was Paul who told us, "Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse." (Romans 12:14)
This can super-charge your prayer life: forgive those who've sinned against you, and pray God's blessings and mercy on those who've persecuted you! Not only will God's presence cover you as you do this, but these kinds of prayers honor God greatly.
Even your greatest enemy, or someone who has hurt you deeply - forgive as often as needed, and pray God's blessing and mercy. I'm sure Paul didn't try to spend time with those who wanted to harm him, but he still, with God's strength, forgave and prayed blessings on them. Do this, and God will move on your behalf. (Read more about this in Romans 12:17-21)
Our ability to let things go, and bless others will keep unforgiveness from hindering our prayer life. Even how we treat our spouse and family affects our prayers. (see 1 Peter 3:7)
5. "According to God's Will" prayers
"This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us--whatever we ask--we know that we have what we asked of him." (1 John 5:14-15)
We can pray according to God's will, by praying God's Word. If we want our prayers to be powerful, we need to learn to pray the promises in God's word back to Him. There are more than 3,000 promises from God in the Bible. How many do you know?
DL Moody said, "When I pray, I talk to God, but when I read the Bible, God is talking to me; and it is really more important that God should speak to me than that I should speak to Him I believe we should know better how to pray if we knew our Bibles better."
Interestingly, when you read the Biblical prayers that the first followers of Jesus wrote out in Scripture, they are so much different than what many believers pray today. They are from such a different perspective, they are concerned with very different things than what we so often worry about.
Listen to one of Paul's prayers for the Church in Colossea, "For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light." (Colossians 1:9-12)
Doesn't this seem different than the type of prayers you pray? I wonder that we should start to pray more of the Scripture, and by doing so, our prayers would be far more powerful.