We look upon prayer as a means of getting things for ourselves; the Bible’s idea of prayer is that we may get to know God himself. - Oswald Chambers
Prayer is first and foremost a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Some people think of prayer like a business transaction or as something they have to do just like checking something off a to do list. But that isn’t really prayer at all. We should think of prayer in intimate terms like a conversation between close friends. What are some words that you think of when you think of an intimate friendship? You will probably think of words like loving, caring, warm, sincere, personal, and intimate. These are words that should be used to describe our prayer time with the Lord. Prayer should not be dry or stuffy; rather it should be warm and intimate. How can you develop a personal prayer life?
Before You Pray
Before praying, there are four things that we should take into consideration. First, schedule a regular prayer time. Find a time everyday to spend in prayer. The important thing is that we should be consistent. The psalmist said that he prayed seven times a day. Second, choose a private place to pray. A prayer closet could be anywhere as long as it is private. You can use your garage, pantry, front porch, or any other creative place where you can get alone with God. Some people pray while driving in their car and others pray while working-out or running. Third, try to limit distractions. Don’t pray in the same room that you may watch television or be tempted by other activities. Lastly, have a prayer list to guide your prayers that includes family, friends, church, etc. This will ensure that you don’t forget important things to pray for.
Keys to Personal Prayer
Every believer can have a dynamic personal prayer life. The Bible gives us the keys that we need to develop a powerful prayer life. The Scriptures are full of examples of men and women who walked with God and used prayer to impact their world and you can do the same thing through prayer. The following are Scriptural ways you can develop a deeper more fulfilling personal prayer life.
1. Pray In Jesus Name.
Real prayer is Christological and focuses on the person and work of Jesus Christ. There are numerous New Testament references that talk about the importance of praying in the name of Jesus. Jesus Himself said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you” (John 16:23). When we pray in the name of Jesus, God the Father hears us. He responds to the prayer that is offered in the name of His Son Jesus because our relationship with God is through the Son.
2. Pray According to God’s Will.
God is not a Santa Claus in the sky; He does not give us anything we ask for. But in 1 John 5:14 it says, “if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” This means that when we pray in accordance with His will we can expect an answer. This is why the Lord’s Prayer says, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
3. Scriptural Prayer.
One the best ways to pray is to pray according to the Scriptures. John 15:7 says, “If you abide in Me, and My word abides in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.” If God’s word is in us then His desires become our desires and we can have the assurance that He will answer our prayers. Make sure that your prayers are in line with Scripture. The Lord always honors His Word. A great example is the Lord’s Prayer.
4. Keep Commandments.
God honors those who honor His Commandments. Jesus said, “Whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.” (1 John 3:22). If you keep His Commandments and do what is pleasing, then you can be assured that He will hear your prayers.
The Lord wants us to have faith that He will hear our prayers. Jesus said, “And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” (Matthew 21:22). In the great faith chapter of the Bible, we are told that, “without faith it is impossible to please im, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is the rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6). The Lord promises to respond to our prayer of faith.
6. Pray in the Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of prayer. Paul tells us to pray at all times in the Spirit. Romans 8:26 reads, “Likewise the Spirit also helps us in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” We don’t always know how to pray and we don’t always feel like praying. Therefore we need the Spirit’s power to help us pray.
7. Be Persistent.
Don’t give up if you haven’t received an answer to your prayers. Throughout the Bible there are stories of men and women who persevered in prayer. In Luke 18:1-8 there was a little old widow who did not lose heart. James tells us that the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
8. Humble Yourself.
Lastly, we are to humble ourselves in prayer. James 4:10 tells us to humble ourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt us. One of my favorite parables about prayer is in Luke 18:9-14, where the Pharisee and tax collector come before God. The Pharisee was proud and boastful, while the tax collector was humble and asked for God’s mercy. We are told that God hears the prayer of the humble. If we humble ourselves in the sight of God he will lift us up.
Lord, teach us to pray. We ask that you would make us humble, help us be persistent, and give Your Holy Spirit to help us pray. We ask that you would cleanse our hearts, meet our needs, heal our hurts, and give us strength to call on Your name and to give You glory. In the name of Your Son Jesus we pray. Amen.
Dr. Winfield Bevins serves as lead pastor of Church of the Outer Banks, which he founded in 2005. His life’s passion in ministry is discipleship and helping start new churches. He lives in the beautiful beach community of the Outer Banks with his wife Kay and two daughters where he loves to surf and spend time at the beach with his family and friends. Twitter: @winfieldbevins