Seven lessons I’ve learned about prayer

Admittedly I’m not the greatest prayer you might know. Having said that, I do pray and have been praying for about 17 years. During that time I’ve stumbled onto some key lessons regarding this spiritual discipline. I shared them last Saturday with the “Band of Brothers” at Church180 and thought you might find them helpful too.

So with no further ado let me share seven lessons I’ve learned about prayer…

There are 3 attitudes that block my prayers

#1 I don’t give a rip

God detests the prayers of a person who ignores the law. (Proverbs 28:9 NLT)

I find that when I don’t care about what God has said… He doesn’t say much more.

As a parent I totally understand that! When my kids don’t listen to what I tell them… I feel the need to repeat what I’ve already said until they get it! I’m not going to share new information until they start doing what I’ve already told them!

#2 I’m not sure

Rob Polenik, owner of Brutal Iron Gym, has a sign hanging on his door that says, “If at first you don’t succeed, then maybe you should do it the way I told you to in the beginning.”

In other words… trust the expert! Don’t come to him for advice then doubt what he says or choose not to do it like he says… do it!

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind.  Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. (James 1:5-7 NLT)

This third one is a biggie, and one that I didn’t fully understand until I had daughters.

#3 She’s just a woman

You husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered. (1 Peter 3:7 NLT)

As a dad I know this… any boy that mistreats my girls will not only not receive my ear, but he may receive my foot!

Men, the way we treat our wives directly impacts the effectiveness of our prayers! Essentially God is saying, Don’t talk mean to hear then talk nice to me… I’m not listening to you until you fix things up with her!

Some of the best advice here comes from St. Paul, “Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry” (Ephesians 4:26 NLT)

So there are three attitudes that can block my prayers.

But there are three ways I’ve found to know it’s God telling me something…

3 ways I know it’s God:

#1 The Bible says it.

A couple of months ago I wrote a post titled, “Why I have to read the Bible”, that goes into greater detail about this subject. You can read it here.

#2 I can’t quit thinking about it.

I find that often if a thought comes and goes… it’s my idea, BUT if a thought comes and lingers, almost haunts me… then it’s probably God! His ideas don’t seem to go away quickly.

Of course this isn’t ALWAYS true. There are some things that regularly come to mind which would not make God happy if I carried them out. I always seek to confirm the “rightness” or “wrongness” of what I’m thinking about by checking out what the Bible says. For instance, carrying out a lustful desire = not good. Asking forgiveness for hurting my wife’s feelings = good. Pretty basic… but you get the point.

#3 My mentors and my wife say it.

I’ve found that when I listen to her, God often speaks to me through my wife! There are multiple Scriptures that teach us that there is wisdom found in the voices of wise counselors, friends, family, etc.

Now the order is important here! Don’t get it mixed up! Sometimes we make that error and listen to people and thoughts first! Run them through the grid as you are determining whether or not it is God you are hearing!

And now the seventh lesson I’ve learned about prayer…

For years I’ve wrestled with HOW to pray!

Before I went to college I was a high school dropout, pothead, and spiritually dead moron. When I made the decision to follow the leadership of Jesus and began nurturing my friendship with God prayer became an important part of my daily routine.

At college I would literally pray 1-2 hours a day! No exaggeration! Keep in mind that I was at a Bible College, surrounded by all things spiritual and good so praying that much was not as difficult as it might sound.

Then I got married, got a job, had one girl… then six, and my prayer life started looking different. Real different!

For years I’ve compared my prayer life now to my prayer life then! BIG MISTAKE! Why? I’m not in the same situation today as I was back then… and I’m not the same person today I was back then! I’ve grown up, added responsibility, and matured in my relationship with God. Still though… I’ve made the mistake of comparing then to now… and often felt guilty about how “now” looks.

Then I found this nugget of wisdom from St. Paul, and this is the seventh lesson I’ve learned about prayer…

1 way to pray

The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know. (1 Timothy 2:1 MSG)

That’s it! Pray every way you know how for everyone you know! That means sometimes I pray in the car for our president. Sometimes I pray in my office for you. Sometimes I pray in the gym for people I know. Sometimes I pray in bed for myself. Sometimes I pray while I walk around the church and other times I pray while I’m in the shower.

It’s kind of like this… I talk to God… and listen to God and that happens in a variety of times and places! That’s what St. Paul said to Timothy… and it works!

Certainly there are times when I need to just “get away” to quietly think about and talk to God, but prayer… prayer is something that can happen anywhere, for anything or anyone.

I ended my conversation with the men of Church180 like this:

So I want to challenge you men to carve out some time every day to talk to and listen to God! It’s as important as going to the gym, balancing your checkbook, going on a date with your wife, and changing the oil in your car!

I suppose that’s a good way to end this conversation as well… I challenge you to take time to talk to and listen to God every day… I think you’ll be happy you did!


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