"We loved to hear him pray." My Dad heard this comment several times regarding his late father, my grandfather. As Dad and my brother went through some of Grandpa's belongings, they came across a study outline he had prepared. The topic: "How to Pray". Curious about my Grandpa's thoughts on prayer, I had my brother make me a copy (my brother kept the original). I've reviewed it a couple of times since, and each time I do, something new stands out.
Today, I'm borrowing heavily from his outline. In particular, the section titled "How to Pray With Power." This may be a little long, but I believe the points he makes are important.
To begin with, our prayers must be made to God. I know, you're thinking, isn't all prayer made to God? Here are some things to consider.
Do we make a definite, conscious approach to God? We need to have a vivid realization that God is listening to us as we pray.
Do we allow our minds to be taken up with what we need? They shouldn't. Our minds need to be focused on God. Our needful thoughts should be secondary.
Do we allow our minds to wander? I'm guilty of this. One moment, I'm praying and the next, I'm thinking about something that happened last week.
"In this type of praying (the wandering, not-focusing-on-God type), there is no power - this prayer is not to God."
So, how can we make sure our prayers are unto God? "Look to the Holy Spirit to lead us into the presence of God. Develop an attitude of reverence (don't be hasty with words and wait for the Holy Spirit's lead)." Romans 8:26 says "Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words." Jude 20 also says "But you, beloved, building yourselves up in our most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit..."
We should also pray without ceasing and with all earnestness. When Jesus prayed in the Garden, "He prayed more earnestly, and His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground," (Luke 22:44).
Hebrews 5:7 reads "In the days of His flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears..."
The point these two verses make is to pour our prayers from our soul, "stretching out toward God in intense and agonizing desire."
The next point convicts me: "If we rush into God's presence, run through a string of petitions, jump up, and leave - if we put little heart into our prayers - we cannot expect God to put much heart into answering our prayers." He might because He is gracious, but I see the point. Also, if I'm not willing to deeply express my requests, then are they that important to me?
I hope this helps you in your prayer life. I know my grandpa's words have given me many thoughts to seriously consider. What are your thoughts?