Prayer is Not a Process

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, July 29, 2016 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

[This blog post is part of a series. The previous post is here, and the next post is here.]

When I was attending the University of Texas at El Paso, Juarez, Mexico was at the height of national attention because of the drug cartel violence. Between semesters, I would still help out my parents with facilitating mission teams into Juarez and our ministry had T-shirts that said: “Pray for Juarez.” I was wearing that shirt one day and my Computer Science advisor said that, “Studies have shown that in cases when people prayed, only 50% of the prayers got answers.” I did not want to get into an argument right there, but I knew right off that he had no clue what prayer was.

Last week, I told you how God has called me on an adventure in my prayer walk and one thing I can say about prayer (among many others) is this: prayer is not a process. Prayer is not a formula you can follow and get results like a scientific experiment. Prayer is not some kind of chant or formulaic thing we say over and over again as though it will make us feel good. Prayer is communicating with the One True God. It is accessing the Throne of Heaven. But it is so much more than that.

In this series, I am going to be pulling from a few things I have gathered over the years, a few of the comments my pastor and others have made during our Wednesday night series, and from a very neat book on the topic called Wrestling Prayer by Eric and Leslie Ludy. In this book, the Ludys go through a study of David’s Mighty Men and how dedicated they were to their king, David, suggesting that is how we should be with our King, Jesus Christ. Allow me to give an example.

Three of David’s Mighty Men were so close to him that while they lived in the Cave of Abdullum, hiding from Saul, they heard David utter a dream to get a drink of water from the well of Bethlehem, currently under Philistine control. These men traveled through mountainous terrain, fought through the garrison, got the water, and fought their way back… just for a drink of water. Read the account in 2 Samuel 23 and 1 Chronicles 11. Here is the concept. These men so longed to be close to their king that they were willing to surrender their comfortable lifestyle and status in Israel, risk being wanted outlaws (Saul was on the throne and was after David), and not care about the cost to self. They were so close, they would hear the desires and wishes of the king. David did not order these men to go out. They overheard his desires and on their own went out to see it done.

Do we get close enough to Jesus so he could utter his wishes within our hearing and out of our love and dedication to Jesus that we would go out to see that wish done? Some may say: “God did not tell me to do that.” Others may say: “I won’t move unless God commands me to move.” There is validity to that. But think about it. What if we were so close to God that he would not even have to tell us what to do and we would follow his wishes? The other night during prayer, I told God I would stay up all night in prayer if he asked me to (I’ll go into detail about what this looks like in a few weeks). But then the next night, God suggested: “How about you tell me when you are ready to stay up all night with me?” That night, I made it to midnight and then I had to call it. In the morning, I was tired, but not due to lack of sleep (I was fighting a cold and I would have been just as tired as I would have been had I went to bed early). Do we get close enough to God to hear that from him? To where we would do whatever it would take to please him, even if God does not command it from us? Prayer is our connection with God, but it is much more than that. Countless books have been written on the topic and I’ve hardly scratched the surface in regards to reading about the prayer life of the Christian greats. I’ve got a collection of books to go through and I’ll be ordering more when some paychecks come in. If you study the greats, you will likely see that while their doctrines will vary, they all had prayer in common. There are many different aspects to prayer that likely many of us have not thought about it. I had heard of these from time to time, but I did not really think about it in my prayer life until I started prepping this series. Allow me to give you a short preview of the rest of the series (which is still subject to change).

Prayer is the engine that makes Christianity work. Should we have expectations of results when we pray? What distracts us from praying? Have you ever considered praying through the night, at the expense of sleep? How do we pray when our spiritual “tank” is on empty? Do we pray with idols in our hearts (are we praying to/for our idols)? Do we pray for specific prayers or just generic/general prayers? How often do we pray with an “out” in case God does not answer? Are we praying God’s prayers or our own? Have we considered getting a word from God before we start praying? Do we grasp the power of prayer? What is intercession? What about prayer in spiritual warfare? How can prayer be effective? Do we pray in secret, behind the scenes where we are not the ones on the stage? How often do we give prayer requests when really all we are doing is gossiping? Do we have a prayer partner?

In the next 4-5 months I plan to hit each of these points and in the process, God may have me condense one or two of them or he may make me expand upon them or add the list. But for me personally, I am not interested in merely talking about prayer. I want to start implementing these concepts into how I pray. I can safely promise that I will not have these mastered by the time I wrap this series up, but could I practice them? Absolutely. As I began writing this post, I started to go through this series and prayed about each one that came to mind.

So how do we pray? Many people have many different ways of prayer. Some get on their knees. Some lay down prostrate before the throne of God. Some just speak to God as though they were talking to a friend. Some pace. Some shout at God. Some pray in the car during daily commutes. At times, I have a very unique way to pray. I get a sword out and practice some of my fencing moves as though I am sparring with God or with our spiritual enemy. A couple weeks ago, I got an idea of having a “War Room” that would have medieval style weaponry, but on the focus for training for spiritual battle. In the movie War Room there is a prayer closet where the older lady would do her battles in prayer. Some pray “under the stage” where they are not the ones speaking or preaching but praying behind the scenes. Sometimes, when I am pouring out my heart to God, I will “preach” a sermon about it.

Prayer is not about fancy words or lengthy, eloquent discourses. It is not about whether you are on your knees or on your feet. It is not about face towards heaven or lying prostrate on the floor. It is not about praying first thing in the morning, noon, or night time. It is not about a memorized prayer or one you make up. It is not about praying for each of your meals. It is not a process. It is not a method. Prayer is about our relationship with God. It is about bringing God’s will into fruition on this earth. It is about seeking and establishing God’s Kingdom. It is about surrendering ourselves to his purposes. I pray that through this series, both you and I learn how to pray God’s way, for his glory and for his purposes. Next week, we will look at the engine that makes Christianity work.

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