The Nature of Prayer

sunrise2I’d like to briefly highlight six different characteristics of prayer that we find in scripture. These are definitely not the only ones in scripture, but will be a great benefit. Each one is vital to the over-all power and strength that comes through a life committed to prayer.

First, there is adoration, which is to love deeply, to worship, idolize something. We see that in Matthew 14:33 where it says, “Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.” Adoration brings our heart into focus and positions us to receive from the Lord.

Second, a more common aspect of prayer is confession, which is the disclosure of our wrong doing or our sins. In Nehemiah 1:6 it says, “Please let Your ear be attentive and Your eyes open, that You may hear the prayer of Your servant which I pray before You now…and confess the sins of the children of Israel which we have sinned against You…”  Also, in 1 John 1:9 we read, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us…” Someone once said, “Confession is good for the soul,” but it’s equally valuable for the spirit. It is crucial to make time in our prayer life where we are able to confess and be cleansed.

Third, there is petition and supplication, which is a solemn request, an entreaty, to ask for something humbly. We read in Philippians 4:6, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” Just as a parent loves to hear their children’s requests even so our Heavenly Father listens to us as we come and ask of Him.


I believe those that selflessly intercede for others in times of need will themselves reap great breakthrough    (Tweet)


Fourth, is intercession, which is entreating God on another’s behalf. Some refer to this as standing in the gap for someone else. In Acts 12:5 we read, “Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church.” This group of believers was specifically praying for Peter’s protection and deliverance, which was the key for his supernatural breakthrough. I believe those that selflessly intercede for others in times of need will themselves reap great breakthrough.

Fifth, is communion, a time of intimate interaction and sharing ones heart. It is much greater than just filling the time with talking. He desires for us to come into His presence and sit at His feet communicating our inner most thoughts with Him, with or without words.  We see Mary communing with Jesus in Lk 10:39 as she sat at His feet.

The Sixth and last characteristic of prayer that I will touch on is thanksgiving, which is the act of giving thanks to God. We need to have an attitude of thankfulness for what God has done or is doing or even what He is going to do. Giving thanks to the Lord is a big part of prayer. In Colossians 4:2 it says, “Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving.” We are also to “enter His gates with thanksgiving,” (Ps.100:4, nas).

All six of these facets compose a beautiful and powerful communication with our Savior and Lord. There are so many different aspects of a life of prayer. I encourage you not to be limited by man’s traditions or manmade formulas. Having your prayers filled with these different characteristics will bring a freshness and fulfillment in your time of prayer.

I Want It Now!

200157668-001A society surrounded by the convenience of instant everything, brings a slow death to the tenacious spirit. Many people want prayers answered before their lips stop moving, unfortunately, many times, it doesn’t happen that way. The scriptures teach us in Colossians 4:2, “to continue earnestly in prayer,” and in Romans 12:12, it says “continuing steadfastly in prayer.”  We are exhorted to be persistent in our prayer life.

Jesus shares a parable in Luke 18:1-8, driving home the point of persistent prayer. It says, “Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, saying: “There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, ‘Get justice for me from my adversary.’ And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I do not fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.’” Then the Lord said, “Hear what the unjust judge said. And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily…”

                        A society surrounded by the convenience of instant everything,                                   brings a slow death to the tenacious spirit.    (tweet)

            When I was young, I was told that if I asked or prayed for something more than once I would be praying in unbelief. That’s totally contrary to scripture! The continual knocking or coming to the judge brought the widow’s answer. The Bible does say in James 1:6-8, that we must have faith when we pray, but being continuously in prayer doesn’t mean you have unbelief. On the contrary, I think it indicates that you do have faith in God. Your action of continual asking shows you believe He will answer.

I like what Marilyn Hickey says, “Prayers are like seeds that are watered daily. Different ones take different lengths of time to sprout and to grow.” If you think about the farmer’s process, he plants his seed then waters it day after day until he sees a sprout breaking through the soil. The farmer is like the diligent believer who plants his seed and then through continual prayers of faith waters it until the answer breaks through and comes to pass. Keeping with this analogy, if praying continually is wrong then the farmer watering his seed daily would also be wrong.

                    Many people want prayers answered before their lips stop moving,                          unfortunately, many times, it doesn’t happen that way     (Tweet)

            Let’s look at I Kings 18:41-45. We see Elijah telling Ahab, “Go up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of an abundance of rain.” Then Elijah went to the top of Mt. Carmel to pray. That’s when this story gets very interesting. After Elijah prayed, he sent his servant to look for rain clouds. Six times his servant checked and didn’t see anything, Elijah continued in prayer. The scriptures say, “Then it came to pass the seventh time that he said, ‘There is a cloud, as small as a man’s hand, rising out of the sea!’ The downpour from that small cloud broke three and a half years of drought. This all happened because Elijah wouldn’t quit praying—he had faith to be steadfast in prayer.

            Living a life of prayer will always be a life of adventure and power. Ephesians 6:18 tells us, “Praying always with all prayer and supplication … with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.”  In other words be tenacious and persistent in prayer. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t see the answer to your prayers immediately. Keep knocking on Heaven’s door.

This Place Works Great!

praying-for-rainDriving to church one Sunday I was so encouraged when a car passed me with the driver in serious prayer. It was obvious to me by her actions and demeanor that she was interceding for the upcoming service. She was transforming her car into a prayer room on the way to her church.

The scripture describes prayer as taking place in many different settings. We see in Matthew 6:6, “… when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” In Luke 6:12, Jesus went out to the mountain to pray. He also prayed at the Garden of Gethsemane (Lk. 22:39) and Peter prayed on the housetop in Acts 10:9.

Susanna Wesley the mother of Charles and John Wesley prayed during the day in her rocking chair. She had nineteen active children and as you can imagine finding time and place for prayer was almost impossible. But, knowing the need and the power of prayer she would sit in her chair placing her apron over her face making it a place of prayer. Her children were instructed never to disturb their mother when she was praying under her apron.


            “The intensity of the storm paled in comparison to those who were bombarding Heaven with cries for revival”   (Tweet) 


There are so many different places of opportunity to nurture your prayer life. Families can pray together at the kitchen table after breakfast or evening dinner. Those in the marketplace can have prayer meetings in their office cubicle or conference room before work. On your commute to work every day turn your car into a holy time of prayer.

Being in Guatemala, in a flimsy tent under a cloudburst, along with hundreds of serious prayer warriors impacted my life to my core. The intensity of the storm paled in comparison to those who were bombarding Heaven with cries for revival. Few were even aware of the storm outside. These hungry hearted believers were not going to allow anything to hinder their prayers. I was reminded of how often, back in the blessed U.S.A., we allow our prayer focus to get off track. Yet here in a remote area of the Guatemalan mountain, these people didn’t even flinch at the raging wind, pounding rain or the flapping tent. It was a glorious time of intense intercession that is seared in my memory.

Our places of prayer should be a place that helps keep our focus on heaven and not those around us. If we are praying so that others can see us and our pride can be stroked, then we have missed the mark and purpose of prayer. Matthew 6:1-6, lets us know if we are looking for man’s approval and praise then we will receive the rewards of man. Wouldn’t we rather have our rewards come from God who sees in secret and rewards us openly? Therefore, wherever you find your place to be, make it a holy place with Him.

The overall view in scripture is that there is no one place to pray that is superior. The only criteria is that we pray in a place and manner that allows us to focus on the Lord. God wants us to spend quality time with Him, wherever that might be on a roof, in a tent or elsewhere. He longs for our undivided attention. Remember prayer is communication with our heavenly Father, whether we are alone or with others, it is talking and conversing with Him.

Any Time is the Perfect Time

clock time The times of prayer can be as different as the places of prayer. Looking back to my childhood I can remember my parents, being involved in many different prayer meetings. Therefore, they would bring different ones of us children with them to the various meetings. In fact, I feel I had the privilege of cutting my teeth in prayer meetings. As I look back over the many years there is one definite fact that I’ve come to realize about prayer. That is, there is no one set time to pray, on the contrary the scriptures reference many different times of prayer.
In Psalm 55:16-17 we read David’s words, “Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, and He shall hear my voice.” The religious culture of that day held prayer three times a day. We see this also in Daniel 6:10, “…he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days.”


The perfect time for prayer is any time that allows you to connect

to the God that loves you. (click to tweet)   


For many years, I have been involved in morning prayer meetings. I started this routine when I was just out of bible school and attending a church in Rockwall, Texas. God used my pastor to stir thousands to pray in the mornings for one hour. The scripture Mark 1:35 was the inspiration, “Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out …and there He prayed.” This teaching swept through America and abroad. motivating multitudes to get up early and find their place of intercession each morning..
Some churches hold all night prayer meetings. Luke 6:12 tells us that Jesus prayed all night, “… He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.” When I was a youth pastor my pastor would call the whole church, to an all-night prayer meetings. Different departments were assigned to lead different hours through the night. As well, I remember a time in Haiti some years back where I had the privilege to attend a prayer meeting. Thirty of us, with the stars as our backdrop, prayed from night until early morning on the housetop.
In 1857 New York City was ablaze with the fire of prayer. God had placed a burden to pray at noon for revival and spiritual renewal on Jeremiah C. Lamphier. This movement of noon prayer spread like wild fire across the city and then the country. At one time the famed newspaper editor Horace Greeley sent a reporter by horse and buggy to count the attendance at the different noon prayer meetings and was only able to get to twelve locations, but counted 6,100 who had come to pray.
We see in the last 10 years across the globe the explosion of 24 hour continuous prayer and praise meetings. Inspired by David’s tabernacle (1 Chr. 23:5; 25:7), where 288 singers and 4,000 musicians that were dedicated full-time to minister to the Lord and serve others. In Luke 18:7 Jesus says that God will bring justice to those that “cry out day and night to Him.
Believers are crying out to God in prayer every hour of the day and night. Whether it is morning, noon or evening, once a week or special times, there is a stirring in the belly of the church to cry out to Heaven in prayer. The perfect time for prayer is any time that allows you to connect to the God that loves you

His Eye is on us…

Mother watching childI am reminded how growing up, my brothers and I were a little bit rowdy, well maybe not just a little. So often we would hear my mother say, “I have my eye on you”. This was not necessarily a negative statement dependent upon our actions. If our actions were disruptive it would bring correction and if they were good then it always brought reward and affirmation. My mother’s words were rooted in feelings of endearment. Her eyes were on us because she knew us and loved us.

In a time of corporate prayer and seeking the Lord, I was reminded of what God spoke to King Solomon at the end of a Solemn Assembly. God’s people had gathered together for the dedication of the new temple and now God speaks to the King saying…

2 Chron 7:15-16   Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place. For now I have chosen and sanctified this house, that My name may be there forever; and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually. NKJV

When God’s people come together in a unified heart, focusing and positioning themselves on God and His will, not only will He come in healing, physically and spiritually. But we see that Gods eyes and ears will be on them. For where His heart is, His eyes and ears are also. God loves His children!


He will keep His eyes on us because He is passionately in Love with us!  (Tweet)


Where the scripture says He will keep His eyes on us, I believe it’s a direct outcome of His passionate love for us. In Deut 32:10, we read where it refers to His children as the apple of Gods eye and earlier it says that His people are His portion. In other words you get the idea that God is crazy in love with us.  In Romans it tells us that there is nothing that can separate us from that love. That’s a huge statement! Not just a few things, but nothing can separate you and I from His love. Whether, natural or spiritual, there is not one thing big or small that can divide us from His incredible love.

He will take notice of their action and mark the place as holy, a place that is sanctified and separated unto Him. There is protection and blessing when He watches over us. He listens for our cry with a greater level of attentiveness, because we have touched His heart.  Just as a mother can now purchase technical products, such as audio and visual monitors that help them keep their ear and eye on their babies. It’s all because of their love and desires to be a good parent.

Some individuals have a warped concept of God and His love for them. Whether it’s because of a bad example of a father figure or a lack of understanding, they see God as a cosmic kill joy keeping an eye on them to catch them in a mistake.

This cannot be any further from the truth. In 2 Chron 16:9    We read that God is looking for an opportunity to move powerfully in behalf of His people. It says, “For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.”

As we seek Him and move towards Him in prayer, we need to be confident in the fact that His eyes are on us. Knowing God sees and moves towards us with the desire to show His love on our behalf.

Continuing in an Attitude of Prayer

praying handsIn Acts 6:4 we read the words of the apostles, “But we will give ourselves continually to prayer…”. This phrase “give ourselves” implies a personal action and responsibility. It says that they “gave” not that it was given to them or that it came natural to them. They had to make the effort and take the time themselves to press into a life of continual prayer and studying the scripture. They were diligent to give themselves to the Lord. They found faithful men to serve and care for the physical needs of the people, so that they could spend more time alone with God.  These leaders understood that there were deeper levels and depths of knowing God that they must attain to do what they were called to do. Therefore, it was essential for each of them to press into God so that they could meet the spiritual needs of others better. They knew before they talked to man about God that they must first talk to God about man.

So often I hear people say, “if I had more time” or “if it was my job” I would spend more time seeking God in prayer and the studying of the Word. But the apostles were as busy as anyone else if not more and they didn’t use those excuses. Instead it says that they gave themselves to prayer and the word. They didn’t allow anything to distract or to keep them from pursuing more of God.

In Paul’s epistle to the Thessalonians he exhorts the believers to “pray without ceasing.” (1 Thess. 5:17) This isn’t just for leaders, but for every Christian.   In Luke 18:2-8, Jesus shares a parable of the unjust judge and the persistent widow where He brings out the overlaying message, “That men always ought to pray and not lose heart,” (Luke 18:1). So many believers seldom pray or they fizzle out when they haven’t seen the results they are looking for quick enough. We have become a society that demands instant everything, instant food, instant banking and instant messaging. This same attitude has flowed right into the fabric of the church and our relationship with the Lord. God wants us not to lose heart in our pray life.


  We Must know before we talk to man about God that they must first talk to God about man.    (Click to Tweet)


Jesus and the Apostle Paul exhort us to pray. It’s about as optional as breathing is to your body. Paul stirs young Timothy in his letter, “I desire therefore that men pray everywhere,” (I Tim. 2:8) and then to the believers at Colossi he says, “Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving” (Col. 4:2).

In James 4:17 we are warned, “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.” If we know that we are to pray in an attitude of continuous prayer and we aren’t doing it we are in sin. Samuel declared it was a sin for him to cease from praying, “Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you,” (I Sam. 12:23). Isaiah declared, “And there is no one who calls on Your name, who stirs himself up to take hold of You…” (Isa. 64:7).

A Christian who does not have a disciplined prayer life is disobedient and powerless. The Lord grieves when His children are in such a state. He loves His children and wants to see them walk in victory. The Holy Spirit is always wooing His children to come in communion with Him not just occasionally but to walk in an attitude of continuous prayer.

“Christ-Must” list or Christ Centered Communion?

christmas List  Remember the excitement when you were a child making your Christmas list. It was a time that your imagination would sky rocket and every new toy and gadget became a possibility for your list. In your mind there was never an issue about money or if it was even practical for you or not. We became consumed by the monster of greed and desire! The list could go on as long as our paper or our fingers could write. Those childhood memories will never be forgotten as they found their place snuggled in each of our hearts.

In the same manner many Christians treat their prayer life as if they are making that Christmas list once again. They come to God in prayer with a list of wants of fairytale proportions.  As a Christian it is nonproductive and spiritually unhealthy to have a “Santa Clause mentality” which degrades our walk of faith to nothing more than a lifestyle that teeters in the fairytale realm.

If we are not careful we will think and act like Ralphie, the young kid in the 1983 classic movie “Christmas Story”. He wanted a Red Rider BB gun for Christmas so desperately bad that he was consumed with making sure that Santa Claus knew what he wanted. The only thing that seemed to matter was for him to wait in line to be able to sit on Santa’s lap and tell him his Christmas list. How many Christian’s have a prayer life that resembles this same frantic feeling that they must hand Jesus their LIST? Does that sound familiar? Have you allowed your prayer time to be turned into nothing more than a Christ-must list or is it as it should be a place of Christ centered communion? Our prayer life must continue to develop from a passion to know Christ more.

I do understand that there are many facets of prayer and definitely realize that there is a time that we go to our heavenly Father with our needs and supplications. But if our prayer time is only defined by our list and what we need, then we are missing the joy and most important element of prayer.

We have been given the privilege and most awesome opportunity to minister unto Him. It’s when we come into His presence in worship and adoration that will lead us into the greatest and deepest point of our prayer life, the place of pure undefiled communion.  Transitioning from that attitude of “it’s all about us” to an eternal attitude of “living for the King” only happens when we can die to ourselves and live for His purposes in the earth.

Prayer is much greater than just a list of wants. It is a time that we respond to God’s invitation to come into His presence. He has always wanted us to abide with Him. We can see that all the way back to the Garden of Eden where God walked and talked with Adam and Eve. There was a sweet peaceful communion in the presence of the creator of the universe.

It was God’s idea and desire to walk and share His heart with His creation. From the very beginning of time, God created us to be in His presence and to know His heart. Let me ask you, “Have you ever taken the time to ask the Lord what’s on His list?  Or have you been so enthroned in our self-indulgence that we never even stop to hear or listen.

I encourage you as well as everyone to put down our “Christ-Must” list and reach higher in prayer to know His heart.