The other day as I was poring through some papers that belonged to my dear Mom, I came across an article she used to refer to often. It was written by someone in China many years ago, and it gave a description of how things would be right before Jesus comes back. I found the words as sobering as they used to be when Mom would read them to me or speak of them through the years. One of the main subjects the author spoke about was how increasingly difficult it would be to pray as we approach Jesus’ 2nd coming.
As I read the words again, I was amazed at the accuracy of this “prophecy” written so long ago.
Does anyone else have as difficult a time entering into intercessory prayer as I do?
It is not that I don’t love to pray. Anyone who knows me well knows that I DO love to pray. I cannot begin to express how much I love immersing in a time of deep communion and conversation with my Heavenly Father. Those moments with Him are my favorite moments of all, and without that time of keeping our communication open and fresh, I could not, by any means, maintain the spiritual Christian walk that He enables me to walk day by day.
I have lived for Jesus long enough and neglected my prayer life enough times to come to a full realization that prayer is absolutely essential and imperative to my success in living a Christian life. I cannot do without it for it is in Him that I live and move and have my being. (Acts 17:28)
I have no ability to know which path to take, without consistently engaging in conversation with my Lord. “O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.” Jeremiah 10:23
“The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in His way.” Psalm 37:23
I desperately need to continually hear His voice instructing me which way to go, and it is crucial that I do whatever is necessary to draw daily strength and grace from Him to overcome the onslaught of evil that we all have to contend with in daily life.
“Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”Matthew 26:41
“I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing.” John 15:51
I know I need to pray, and I know the consequences that ensue when I don’t pray as I should, so I determined to try to identify the main opponents to my prayer life.
Hosea 4:6 says, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”
What exactly is it that makes praying so difficult in these last days?
Once I identified my biggest prayer hindrances, it was easier to come up with ammunition to combat those deterrents and win! I hope you will also find these tips helpful as you pursue a more effective prayer life for truly there is no substitute for the amazing power of consistent, effectual prayer in the life of a Christian.
“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.“James 5:16
1. Pray first.
Let it begin as soon as you awaken in the morning. Just get it done!
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33
On days that I don’t pray first, not only does it seem the day falls apart, I also walk around with a continual nagging sense of not having done what I should. It sets an out-of-sorts tone for the whole day. Spending those first moments of the day with God in prayer gives a sense of having done my duty and arms me with what I will need to face the unfamiliar challenges of a new day. As I get older and don’t sleep as soundly as I used to, I find that I am doing a lot of praying during the night, too. There is nothing more comforting to do when you are tossing and turning than to turn your heart Heavenward and talk it all over with Him. It is soothing to the soul and gives a sense of refreshed peace when you wake up later.
“My mouth shall praise Thee with joyful lips: when I remember Thee upon my bed, and meditate on Thee in the night watches. Because Thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of Thy wings will I rejoice.” Psalm 63:5-7
“Yet the LORD will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night His song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life.” Psalm 42:8
“My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on Your promises.”Psalm 119:148
Most importantly, Jesus, our example, prayed all night long.
“And it came to pass in those days, that He went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.” Luke 6:12
The Bible mentions Jesus’ prayer life enough times to reveal His prayer patterns to us, and we would all do well to pay careful attention to those details. If He needed to pray so often and for such long, extended periods of time, do we really think we can run a successful Christian race doing less?
“The men who have done the most for God in this world have been early on their knees.”—-EM Bounds
2. If you can’t pray first, pray faithfully.
If praying during the first part of the day doesn’t work for you, the main thing is to be intentional about specifying a block of daily time for prayer regardless of the time of day, and then committing to it daily and making it a habit —just like a daily important appointment. It is actually the most important of all.
3. Establish a designated place to pray.
Though we can obviously pray from anywhere, it helps to have a particular place to pray. Having a designated prayer spot will associate prayer to that location and become a place that draws and reminds you to pray. Over time, as you experience God’s anointing in that place, you will begin to regard and cherish it as holy ground.
4. Be comfortable.
This may sound like an odd prayer strategy, but if you are in an uncomfortable position, you probably won’t want to stay there long. Again, as I get older, I find that being on my knees isn’t the most comfortable position, and when I start out praying that way, I usually end up moving to my recliner to finish. It may be just my opinion, but I don’t believe God is nearly as concerned about bodily position while praying as He is in fervency, earnestness, and the condition of the heart. I will never forget how much it impressed me to read about how Charles Stanley arms himself with the whole armor of God before his feet touch the floor each morning. This lends support to the point of praying first and gives another reason that it is a good idea. Praying in bed first thing in the morning brings us into the presence of God and insures that He is the first one we face and talk to. We never leave an encounter with Him unchanged, and after being with Him, we will find ourselves prepared for every other intersection and interaction that will happen throughout the day.
5. Keep paper and pen near your prayer spot.
One of my main inhibitors during prayer time is becoming so distracted by the onslaught of meddlesome thoughts that continually stream through my mind as I am trying to pray. I start thinking of phone calls I need to make, emails I need to write, people I need to reach out to and connect with, chores I need to accomplish, what I will cook for my family, and upcoming occasions for which I need to prepare. So, to beat the enemy at his distractions game, I started keeping a pad of paper and pen close by. Now, when those distracting thoughts start invading, I start jotting short little note reminders. This transfers the task from my mind to paper, and I can let it go to be revisited later in the day. It’s a winning strategy that works perfectly and enables me to keep right on praying until I am finished!
6. Allow for listening.
The fact that a conversation is two-way also applies to prayer, but an often overlooked part of prayer is allowing space for God to speak. We want to do all the talking and asking and petitioning, but we rush away from prayer after pouring out what we want to say, and we fail to linger long enough to give Him an opportunity to deal with our hearts and reveal His thoughts. There is much that He will relay to us if we will make the effort to be still before Him. Reduce noise, and pray in solitude. Jesus did.
“And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, He was there alone.” Matthew 14:23
“And when He had sent them away, He departed into a mountain to pray.” Mark 6:46
“And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, He went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.” Mark 1:35
“But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.” Luke 5:16
7. Pray on.
Though you have an allocated prayer spot and time, it is important to also remember to stay in a spirit of prayer after you finish and as you continue throughout the entirety of your day. I Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to “Pray without ceasing.” We obviously cannot stay in our designated prayer spot and preferred prayer position 24/7, but we can continually call on the Lord and pray unceasingly as we go about our day and perform our duties, keeping our minds in a continual state of communion with Jesus. He is always there with us, as close as the slightest whisper, and every time we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us. “Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you.” James 4:8 I have found that my daily duties, i.e., homeschooling, cleaning, cooking, laundry, and even errands have become springboards from which prayer wells up, and things that would otherwise be mundane and laborious are transformed into opportunities for deep conversation with my Lord.
8. Shed toxic influences.
Shed people who continually hinder and dampen the audaciousness of your faith. Stop listening to those who quench your inspiration. When Jesus was on the earth, and He was faced with an impossibility to pray through, He sent all doubters away and dispelled hindering spirits from the atmosphere. They were not allowed access into His inner circle. In fact, in particular situations and circumstances, Jesus ONLY permitted a select three of His twelve disciples to go with Him.
In the case of raising Jairus’ daughter from the dead, He allowed only Peter, James, John, and the girl’s parents to stay in the room as He performed the miracle. (Luke 8:50-55)
When Jesus was going to the mountain to be miraculously transfigured, (Matthew 17:1-2), He only took Peter, James, and John. When He entered the Garden of Gethsemane on the night of His crucifixion, He only invited Peter, James, and John to go farthest into the garden with Him to pray.
There was no place for doubt, fear, or unbelief in Jesus’ realm. When opposing spirits were present, He removed them. Why? Because fear, doubt, and unbelief can hinder the miracle from manifesting. It can also deeply influence and injure the faith of others who DO believe God is going to answer prayer. If you are praying with someone who does not believe for what you are asking, that spirit of unbelief can absolutely hinder the answer from coming through and can start to cause you to start doubting God’s ability to do what you are asking Him to. Doubt is toxic to faith. Get rid of it, and shed those who inject it into your prayer life. It may sound cruel and heartless, but it is just that necessary.
9. Surround yourself with Godly influencers of faith.
Surround yourself with those who unfailingly believe that God is and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.
“But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6
Ask the Lord to send earnest, relentless prayer partners into your life. Seek out those who speak life into the situations you are praying about. Abraham had faith in “Him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were.‘ Romans 4:17
THAT is the God we serve. He has not lost one bit of His power, and “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Hebrews 13:8
Just as Jesus chose those whom He knew believed with all their hearts and placed them in His inmost inner circle, we have the free will to choose the people we allow in ours. None of us want to hurt another, but when it comes to running a successful Christian race, and knowing the main tool to make that happen is the maintaining of a strong, faith-filled prayer life, it is imperative that the people we permit access to our closest companionship are those who possess a resolute, unshakable faith in God. It took me a long time to realize the depth of wisdom in expending the necessary effort it took to develop an encirclement of stalwart faith-filled prayer warriors around me. When a need arises, I want to know that the people I ask to pray will fervently pray and that they will do so with zero doubt in the God they are praying to.
10. Keep prayer commitments.
Just as you want to know you and your prayer requests are being faithfully prayed for, be careful to pray for those for whom you have promised to pray. If you tell someone you will pray for them, honor your word and be committed to keeping your promise to carry their needs to the Father. I find it is very helpful to keep a prayer book where I record the names of those I have made a commitment to pray for. Life is busy and full of care, and it is easy for me to become so absorbed in all that is going on in my own life and completely forget to keep my promise to pray for others. I have also learned to drop what I am doing and pray instantly with/for those who ask for prayer, if at all possible.
As always, if anyone who reads this needs prayer, please always feel free to email me through this site. When I tell you I will be praying for you, by God’s grace, I will keep my word!
God bless you as you pursue an ever-deepening prayer life, and may He send people into your life who will reinforce your faith, support your determination, and powerfully enhance the strength of your prayers.