I’m still driving a stick shift and hopefully will graduate to an automatic
Where are the work-horse, power-house prayers? We need prayers that engage God and prayers that engage us with God. This is why I’ve become somewhat of an advocate for utilizing written or memorized prayers.
The prayers I utilize most frequently are written or memorized ones that I formulate myself according to need. I find them to be some of the greatest aids in prayer personally, enabling me to shift back and forth between the physical and spiritual realms. I don’t know how others do it but I have a hard shifting the focus from the physical to the spiritual without assistance; most often I find myself somewhat ‘spinning my tires’ so to speak, not making much headway.
In this respect praying written or memorized prayers act like a stick shift, providing me with a mechanism for concentrating, thus allowing me to pray more effectively. Without them I sort of get stuck in one gear and it’s almost impossible to switch the focus effectively. I’m looking forward to the day when perhaps I’ll have a more automatic shift or focus that will allow the seamless transition, but so far I haven’t got there.
Learning to be specific in prayer
–let’s nix going through the motions without the power thereof
And along this line of prayer, I wanted to comment on a certain way or style of prayer as is quite frequently and generally expressed at a religious-oriented function, that due more to necessity than choice, I attend. I find this manner present in similar gatherings as well. The way or style of prayer in question is invariably expressed along the lines of the following (someone leads the attendees in prayer):
“God, we pray for the world, or for those suffering or sick, etc. We pray for … (certain things, people or situations are mentioned to be prayed for).
And with the mention of the person(s) place(s) or thing(s) the prayers end. There is no mention of what answer or condition is being specifically asked for or claimed. I try to join in such prayers for unity’s sake but frequently find myself left hanging, waiting for the clincher, but the expedient in prayer is simply not there. The prayers begin but most often are never completed. And it is quite obvious to me that this is merely a ritual, a form of prayer, but sadly–empty prayer, without the power thereof.
How can you pray for something or someone without expressing the specifics of what you are praying for? Prayer is our need and God filling that need: Period. If we’re not specific in our requests how can God be specific in His answers? And conversely, how will we even recognize God’s answer if we don’t really know what we prayed for. It’s simply not possible
Please believe me, I’m not stating this self-righteously, or to put these dear people down. It saddens me that this if often the state of prayer which only serves to weaken the bonds of Christian fellowship and experience rather than enhance them.
It was said of George Mueller, the famed Christian evangelist who cared for 10,000+ orphans in his life, that ‘he spent more time working out or formulating what he was going to prayer for or about, than he did actually praying.’ That’s the kind of prayer I’m talking about; not the hollow ones.
The temple of God’s Spirit
–keeping the spiritual and the physical in perspective.
The focal point of Jewish Old Testament worship and indeed the center of daily life was the ritual of worship within the structure of a literal Jewish temple, which itself consisted of several separate distinct parts. There were the various outer and inner courts, the main temple and then the innermost chamber, the Holy of Holies. All of Jewish life revolved around this structure of worship.
Jesus expanded upon and totally spiritualized this worship when he said:
But the hour cometh and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. (John 4: 23, 24)
Now we no longer have the physical literal temple as our place of worship; this has been replaced by the presence and Spirit of God. In essence, He has given us of His Holy Spirit and so our place of worship is to worship in that spirit.
An so we enter spiritually into our temple of prayer, into the temple of the Lord’s Spirit and presence and we worship. That’s as it should be
Our present temple and holy of holies as been described as our entering the temple of His presence, and our service for the Lord has been described as us busy with his service in the ‘wings’ or outer chambers of his temple. We need both.
But what happens is that we get so humanly busy with our work in the wings that we often almost forget that there is a temple into which we can enter, into which we can retreat and ultimately find communion in His very presence.
I think we need to consciously take note and by force of habit, exercise ourselves to keep this temple worship, this temple time, this time of being in the center of the temple, in the center of our lives. Otherwise, we are given such freedom of the spirit, and because the temple of His spirit isn’t a tangible, ‘physical’ reality, we can easily neglect our worship and the central place things should take and be in our lives.