What do you do when you face a situation that you can see no way out of? Panic is often a first response. Fear and anxiety concerning the future. Even anger at God for allowing these circumstances. But as Christians, hopefully we will eventually get to the place where we take our circumstances to our heavenly Father in prayer.
As I look back on 2017, I see a very difficult year, a year of walking through one dark valley after another. Many times, our family was at the place where in the natural we could see no way out.
But I also see a year filled with spiritual growth, especially in the area of prayer. We learned God often doesn’t explain why we are facing difficulties, but that we can trust He has a good purpose in everything He allows to touch our lives. In our difficult circumstances, I learned to cry out to God for help, often using verses from my daily Bible reading. One of the many Scriptures I found myself repeatedly praying was the last part of 2 Chronicles 20:12, “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”
Some of the lessons on prayer that God taught me:
- Prayer is a “direct line to God,” the way He has provided for us to communicate with Him.
- Prayer is simply talking to God, pouring out to Him what is on our heart. This can be done aloud, in our hearts, or even through prayer journaling.
- Prayer includes any type of communication with God: sitting quietly in God’s presence, listening to Him, worship, praise and expressing gratitude to God are all as much a part of prayer as lifting our requests up to Him.
- Because God loves us with a perfect love, His answers will always be for our good, even if we cannot see this at the time.
- Effective prayer is offered in faith. Since faith comes from God’s Word, one of the best ways to pray effectively is to turn Scriptures – which we can have confidence are God’s will – into prayers.
I also learned more about some of the specific forms of prayer:
- Confession is a good way to begin a time of prayer. Confession is simply being honest with God about anything in our lives that is displeasing to Him. It removes any barriers in our relationship with God that would keep Him from listening to our prayers through forgiveness. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
- Petition is presenting our requests to God, with an emphasis on the word “requests.” God gives us the freedom to bring our requests to Him, but the final decision on how He will answer is His.
- Intercession is sharing in God’s work by praying for the needs of others.
It’s also important to understand what prayer is NOT. Prayer is not trying to force God to do something, to “harness” God’s power for our purposes. It is not manipulating God to do what we want. Rather, genuine prayer is a humble dependence upon God to act in our situation for our good and for His glory.
As 2018 begins, I acknowledge I have just stepped into the ocean of all prayer encompasses. But what I have learned has brought a deep hunger to keep learning about prayer. And the best way to grow in the area of prayer is by practical application of the lessons God teaches us – in other words, by praying. As the administrator of the God-Living Girls Prayers Group, my prayer for you is that you will make a commitment to pray daily in 2018!