Lord, Teach Us to Pray – Exercising the Discipline of Prayer, Pt. 2
“Salvation is a life, not an event” – Dallas Willard.
We think of salvation as a moment in time, but your life in Christ is a lifestyle. God’s design for you is for you to be more like Christ to show forth the life, character and power of God in your life.
For this is the will of God, your sanctification – 1 Thessalonians 4:3a
Sanctification means you are growing more holy, more godly and more like the image of Christ. The Holy Spirit is yearning for you to be conformed to the image of Christ. To sanctify yourself meant to set yourself apart like an Olympic runner. Every Olympian trained for the one goal to be in the Olympics and win. We are to be holy and unique. We are to have a different character. We are to be salt and light. How do you grow when it comes to your walk with Christ?
Train yourself for godliness. (ESV) 1 Timothy 4:7b
Take time and trouble to keep yourself spiritually fit. (Phillips Translation) 1 Timothy 4:7b
How do you take the trouble to stay spiritually fit? Through exercises such as fasting, solitude, meditation, service, reading the Bible and prayer. Prayer and the Word are two foundational disciplines to train people to be spiritually fit. You have time to do what you were created to do, to know God.
The difference between mild stirrings and deep breakthroughs is prayer. The difference between mediocrity and greatness is frequent prayer.
The purpose of prayer is to get to know God, not just to have a laundry list of requests. We also pray about our mission to make disciples. We are in a spiritual battle. We have an adversary that wants to destroy God’s children. We must receive our assignments from God as we pray. We must realize that we are engaged in spiritual warfare and pray for protection and for strategy.
Prayer is the way you defeat the devil, reach the lost, restore a backsliding, strengthen the saints and missionaries out, cure the sick, accomplish the impossible, and know the will of God.
The intent of prayer is to spend time with the God who created you and wants to redeem you back to Himself.
There are two actions of prayer.
Be consistent when it comes to your prayer life.
One of the most common concerns about prayer is that people wish they had a more consistent prayer time. For physical fitness, you must have consistency and you must have resistance. You have to be committed to showing up week after week.
You have to work at it, when it comes to finances, health and when it comes to prayer. You may not manifest the power of God, because you don’t have a prayer life. Just as runners hit a wall, when your resources are depleted, unless you go through that wall, you never know the joy of finishing the race.
You may ramp up your prayer life but then you hit a wall because you’re in a battle. You’re going to face resistance when it comes to your walk with Christ. These are those things that keep you from progressing in your walk with Christ. As you get closer to God you become a threat to the enemy, so of course, you’ll face resistance.
Prayer implies consistency. Consistent means that you’re constantly adhering to the same course or form.
1 Timothy 4:7b Exercise daily in God – no spiritual flabbiness please! (MSG)
Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.
5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.
We often neglect meeting with God because we think there are things we can do in our own strength, wisdom and knowledge. Jesus emphasized, “you can do nothing” unless you stay connected to Him. If we’re going to emulate the character of Christ, we need to abide in Him.
Our culture wants payoff with little discipline. We want shortcuts when it comes to staying physically or spiritually fit. You need discipline to implement a goal. Exercise the discipline of prayer, meeting with God, is practiced consistently, to affect change in you – not so you can get what you want.
1 Thessalonians 5:7 Pray without ceasing.
We should be communicating with God on a regular basis with the God of the universe. We are encouraged to devote ourselves to prayer. We have the privilege and opportunity to enjoy this ongoing fellowship with the Lord.
Brother Lawrence, who was a dishwasher back in seventh-century France, wrote a book entitled The Practice of the Presence of God, in which he communicates the concept of being conscious of God’s presence throughout the day.
“The time of busyness does not with me differ from the time of prayer and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen. While several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God and His great tranquility as if I were up on my knee at the Blessed Sacrament.”
We should not only set aside time to communicate, but we should communicate throughout the day. I encourage you to calendar those times where you meet with God. You want to be spiritually fit. It doesn’t become some work to do. I’m just disciplining myself. You get a rhythm and begin to look forward to this time with God. Prayer is the most important appointment you have during the day.
Being persistent means that you endure tenaciously. Even when you face an obstacle or great odds are against you, you’re continually praying passionately.
5 Then, teaching them more about prayer, he used this story: “Suppose you went to a friend’s house at midnight, wanting to borrow three loaves of bread. You say to him, 6 ‘A friend of mine has just arrived for a visit, and I have nothing for him to eat.’ 7 And suppose he calls out from his bedroom, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is locked for the night, and my family and I are all in bed. I can’t help you.’ 8 But I tell you this—though he won’t do it for friendship’s sake, if you keep knocking long enough, he will get up and give you whatever you need because of your shameless persistence.
Some translations call this audacity. Audacity means daring, especially with confident disregard for personal safety, conventional thought, or other restrictions. Don’t ask or seek once, continually ask, seek, or knock.
We are to always pray and not lose heart. Have you been shamelessly bold in making your request to God for those things that you desperately need to be empowered? How many times are we asking, seek or knocking?
Are you persistent in asking God for what you know to be the will of God?
I’ve also found is that while I’m being persistent. God may not always grant me what I think I need, but as I keep asking, seeking, and knocking, I become open to his will as He’s shaping the desires in my heart and my mind into what he wants.