Do you cherish your prayer life?
This past week I was listening to a message by Billy Kim. Dr. Kim was a pastor for a church in Seoul, Korea some 50 years. He started very small as most mission churches start. At a point where we would consider him highly successful, he felt there was much more to do. At that time, his ministry had grown to about 20,000 people. But he was speaking with pastor friend of his who was apparently more successful. Dr. Kim asked the other pastor why he had a church of more than 700,000 while Kim’s remained so relatively small. This friend asked Dr. Kim how much time he spent in prayer each day. The answer was an impressive 45 minutes every day—Kim remarked that was good for a Baptist pastor. His friend, on the other hand, spent no less than 5 hours in prayer every day. That is commitment.
I was committed at this point because my prayer life is not as good as either of these men of God. My heart’s desire is to be involved in ministry to serve my loving God, but my communion with Him is actually quite terrible. So, I am redoubling my efforts starting today. As you will notice, this devotional will be quite different from those in the past but I hope you plow throw the list of truths I am about to share with you.
Before I do, I would like you to remember how Daniel responded when he and his friends were threatened with death by the king of the land (Dan 2:1-19). Their immediate response was to turn to God in prayer so that perhaps He would have mercy on them and spare their lives. When He did just that, Daniel turned to God in prayer and acknowledged who He is. Daniel said:
“Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, For wisdom and might are His. And He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise And knowledge to those who have understanding. He reveals deep and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness, And light dwells with Him. “I thank You and praise You, O God of my fathers; You have given me wisdom and might, And have now made known to me what we asked of You, For You have made known to us the king’s demand.” (Dan 2:20-23)
That is the God we serve…worship…glorify.
The Victorious Prayer Life
I recently read a book by Dr. Bill Thrasher called A Journey to Victorious Praying: Finding Discipline and Delight in Your Prayer Life. This book has greatly influenced my thinking about prayer during. I must confess that my prayer life had become rather dull and at many times without life. This book has provided me with a number of significant truths concerning prayer. Without expounding on the principles, I will simply list the most important principles/thoughts I discovered from this book. Please take time to just look through these principles and identify those that impact you the most. I have cited the page from which the principle was found. I would suggest you take 10 or so of these per day and carefully consider them. Then when you are done, pray about what God would have you do with these principles.
- To encourage prayer among God’s people we must share with them how to make use of their “needy moments” (18).
- Prayer is helplessness plus faith and faith is coming to Christ with our helplessness (19).
- Every time you are tempted to be fearful or anxious, view it as prompting of the Lord to pray. In prayer we talk to God about our anxiety and in supplication we petition Him and tell Him what we would like Him to do about it (20).
- Thanksgiving links your heart to God as you praise Him (20-21).
- Abraham demonstrated his faith in God by being willing to sacrifice his one and only son, Isaac to God (Gen 22; Heb 11:17-19). Am I willing to surrender my Isaacs to God and realize He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him (2 Tim 1:12)? (21).
- We can pray with confidence when we come to God in Jesus’ name (John 14:4). We must pray for things that are in line with His revealed character and for requests in which His answers would enhance His reputation (24).
- “I had rather teach one man to pray than ten men to preach (D. L. Moody)” (27).
- We can draw near to God in confidence. To draw near with confidence means to come with freedom to the throne of grace in the authority of Christ (28).
- The conviction that God can work together for good the pain in your life cannot be reached without drawing near to the throne of grace (29).
- God uses the past and present difficulties of your life to lead you into a life of prayer (29).
- To walk in the light is to walk openly, honestly, and transparently before God and His truth (29).
- A challenge to me is to turn my temptations into victorious prayer (33).
- Many times great difficulties precede special works of God (34).
- The Lord allows circumstances in our life that wean us away from trusting in our own ability in order to truly trust Him (2 Cor 1:8-9) (35).
- A spirit of humility realizes one’s own weakness, and God’s merciful compassion flows to the person and through him to others (Luke 18:13-14) (36).
- “There is nothing that makes us love someone so much as praying for them (William Law)” (41).
- To pray in the Holy Spirit means to lean on His divine help as we pray and learning to depend on Him to motivate us in prayer (42-43).
- We should cooperate with the Holy Spirit in our prayer life by responding to the Spirit as He reveals a need in our lives and to acknowledge our inability to meet this need apart from God (John 15:5) (44).
- The Spirit is also responsible for empowering our prayers; in fact, the Spirit empowers us to believe God (47).
- In prayer we come to God and ask Him what He desires us to believe Him for (48).
- True prayer starts with God and the prayer burden He places on our heart (52) thus, when our hearts cease to pray, we are not praying (53).
- God knows how to prepare us for all that is ahead as we seek to be attentive to Him (55).
- God’s will is exactly what you would desire if you know all the facts (57).
- The Holy Spirit helps us in praying the deep desires of our heart to the Father, who graciously answers them (58).
- As Jesus faced the crisis of going to the cross He chose to face it with His closest human associates to “keep watch” with Him in prayer (Matt 26:37-38) (64).
- Our anxieties are a significant means that God uses to draw us into prayer (Phil 4:6-7) (65).
- You may be seeking the Lord with all your heart for an important decision, but it is wise to seek the intercession and counsel of godly ones to confirm His direction (69).
- Wisdom is seeing life from God’s point of view (71).
- George Mueller’s own conviction was to make the financial needs of his ministry known only to God (78).
- Meditation is talking to God about His word with a desire that your life and those you pray for come into agreement with it (84).
- The Scripture provides the stimulation and guidance we need to sustain a meaningful prayer life (87).
- Praying for Christ-like growth involves (1) spiritual strength, (2) increase in wisdom, and (3) God’s grace (89-94).
- “The key is to pray according to God’s will. To know God’s will we must know His thoughts. To know His thoughts we must saturate our minds with His word. Then we will begin to experience the authority of God in our prayer (Charles Henley) (95). Thus, we must pray Scripture.
- The problem of maintaining a systematic devotional time is one of the Christian’s greatest struggles (107).
- The sin of prayerlessness brings great harm to one’s own life (125). God Himself gave us His inspired revelation to teach us the importance of prayer (126).
- True prayer means (1) appropriating God’s salvation, (2) experiencing God’s peace, (3) experiencing God’s joy, (4) the revival of God’s people, and (5) receiving the gift of perseverance (127-28).
- Worship is to be a time for the church to collectively get under common burdens and do the business of God (132).
- You can do more than pray after you have prayed, but you cannot do more than pray until you have prayed (136).
- Lord, teach me to pray (137).
- Fasting is the “voluntary denial of a normal function for an intense spiritual activity (Richard Foster),” i.e. the Bible’s primary emphasis is on fasting from food but it also refers to a broader use of abstinence from other things (143).
- When you allow your appetites to become your god (cf. Phil 3:19), you lose the ability to truly enjoy God’s gracious gifts. Fasting can make us sensitive to efforts in our life that are done apart from Christ (John 15:5) (156).
- Fasting is a humble response that puts us in a place to receive the life and victory Jesus has won for us (157).
- In times of spiritual warfare, fasting can be a God-appointed means to experience Christ’s deliverance (Matt 17:21; Mark 9:29) (159-60).
- Waiting on God is a discipline that brings the peace (John 14:27) and joy (John 15:11) of Christ (163-64).
- To submit to God means that we are willing to submit our desire to Him, knowing that His will is exactly what we would desire if we knew all the facts (171) and that we are willing to be involved in the answer to our prayer (172).
- Concern + unbelief = anxiety while Concern + faith = a biblical virtue (180).
- Let your greatest concern be living under God’s rule and in harmony with His truth (Matt 6:33) (182).
- The greatest influence of how you view yourself is your perception of how the most important person in your life views you (189).
- The worship of God is to be the essential requirement for the spiritual fitness of every Christian (208).
- Worship is to attribute worth to God’s revealed character; we acknowledge Him for who He is and in this way glorify or honor Him (208).
- Our faith response to God through worship should be characterized as (1) a conviction of the soul; (2) a continual attitude that invades our entire life; and (3) a response that involves an offering (210-11).
- Unacceptable worship is (1) worship toward any other god, (2) worship with less than a whole heart, and (3) worship that does not include a faith response (511-1).
- The key to unceasing prayer and worship is an abandonment of one’s life to the Lord and a continual abiding in Him (214).
- To be filled or controlled by the Spirit involves openness to His control, a dependence upon His control, and responsiveness to His control (214-18).
- Cultivating a lifestyle of worship includes (1) putting all dreams and desires in God’s hand and waiting on His timing; (2) realizing that all you have is due to God’s grace; (3) realizing the spiritual riches you have in Christ; (4) realizing God’s sovereignty and goodness in your trials and pain; and (5) realizing that worship is a spiritual battle (217-223).
Which of these principles impact you the most? Consider applying five of them to your life this week.
Thrasher, Bill. A Journey to Victorious Praying: Finding Discipline and Delight in Your Prayer Life. Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2003.