Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Prayer Is A Lifestyle


by Paul Grant

>>>Note: This site has several articles of interest to prayer leaders - Click on the headline above then use their search box . . .

Yes, after 65 years as a Christian I'm learning new things about prayer. Also, that prayer can become a way of life. Prayer is both hugely comprehensive and magnificently pervasive. It can take over our lives. For God's pleasure. For our advantage. When it does we become uniquely transcendent in witness and work. We are on the earth; we are above its powers. We are heavenly-minded for earthly use.

Prayer is a discipline of many forms. I've had some adventures in my little odyssey of prayer. May I share some prayer formats with you? Here are some ways by which I have learned - and still learning - how to 'pray without ceasing' (1 Thess. 5:17). (These are not presented in any order of preference or priority).

* Connecting Prayer. 'Logging on' to God through Jesus Christ and the help of the Holy Spirit, John 14:13-14; Acts 4:29-31. He is the 'password'. In Him we have 'access' (Eph. 2:18) and we are virus-proofed.

* Communing Prayer. As friend to friend. He scrutinizes and confides secrets (Dan.2:47). Intimacy imparts certainty. "The joys we share as we tarry there no other has ever known" 2 Chron. 20:27; Isaiah 41:8; Jas. 2:23.

* Petitioning Prayer. I identify and nominate a specific need. He listens! He urges me to keep asking! Why? To expand my appreciation of His greatness over against the need Luke 18:1-8; Acts 12:5.

* Intercessory Prayer. For a person or social issue. Esther (A people) John 17:6-18. Intercession identifies God's intentions. It leads to an urge to merge with God's will in everything.

* Meditative Prayer. Our minds and hearts focus on issues and matters that are scanned and interpreted by God. We think through our prayers, Heb. 4:12; Psalm 139:23; 1 Chron. 28:9. The mind is transformed Rom.12:2.

* Walking & Working Prayer. As we engage in the routine duties and pleasures of life. Mordecai (Esther); Acts 17:16, 23; Psalm 8; Rev. 1:9-11. (Also, car-driving prayer. Especially for other drivers and passengers.)

* Bible Prayer. Incorporating the Scriptures into our words especially God's promises, Acts 4:24-30. Bible promises repel evil powers.

* Heavenly Language Prayer. Prayer in other (Divinely given) languages can give a particular strength or thrust to a mentally framed prayer, 1 Cor. 14:14-15. The mind surrenders to the Spirit.

* Imaginative Prayer. Go for it! Under the inspiration of the Spirit let's free our minds to be carried along in God's creative thoughts, Isa. 55:8-9. (See Ezekiel 1) This may be described as envisionary prayer, Eph.1:15-23; Col. 1:28-2:5.

* Written Prayer. Writing prayers leads to clarity in speaking our prayers. Short, focused prayers in your journal or diary. Refer to Paul's prayers in Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians.

* Musical Prayer. Many Christians, musically gifted, experience prayer rapture as they play. Each of us can sing our prayers. (Psalms of David). We can 'sing in the Spirit', 1 Cor. 14:15. Go ahead! Compose some song prayers.

* Impromptu Prayer. Spontaneously triggered by an experience, Jonah 2; Acts 9:19-19; Luke 2:25-35. This can be described as being 'led by the Spirit'.

* Observational Prayer. Praying as we look at people and events. (Go into a shopping mall to pray - NOT consume!) 'Watch' and pray, ie. The whole social scene; TV news; etc. Mordecai (Esther); Moses Deut. 34:1-5 (See previous chapters); Neh.1.

* Walking Prayer. In your neighbourhood or city, Neh. 1. Let the Spirit install in you a spiritual monitor for discerning how you can pray.

* Network Prayer. Over time develop relationships with like-minded colleagues in prayer. Set up mail, phone, email and prayer meeting times, Phil.2:19-30; Col.4:12-13; 1 Thess. 1:1-3.

* World Affairs Prayer. For nations, leaders, international events, global mission, revival, etc. See: the prophets, Joel 2; Ezek. 25- 32; John 17:20-26; Matt.25. (The press is a mess; the Bible is reliable).

* Warfare Prayers. One writer has termed this "the gift of battle". This is the affirmation and enforcement of Jesus' victory over hostile powers that contest for the lives of peoples. Acts 4:23-31 (The major New Testament model for group warfare prayer). Eph. 6:10-18. (The focus is on personal fitness for warfare). It is also an acknowledgement of God's engagement with evil-powers in the heavens, Dan. 10.

* Ph.D. Prayer. That is, Pre-Heaven Disciplines. Prepare by prayer for post-death life; for service in eternity. It's nearer than we think! 2 Tim. 4:1-8.

* Prophetic Prayer. Speak out God's purposes for world redemption over nations and peoples and international issues and events, Acts 2:14-36. Allow the Spirit to load you with a burden for a people group.

* Transcendent Prayer. "In the Spirit" (Rev. 1:10) and keeping "in step with the Spirit" (Gal. 5:25) means being lofted above and beyond mere rational understanding into the dimensions of revelation. Refer : the prophets.

Each of these 'formats' of prayer are seen as being attainable in one's own personal, private prayer life. To close I propose three prayer formats that operate in the public domain. They are:

* Direct/Personalized Prayer. One to one. Praying for another person. This should be brief and specifically focused, eg. Acts 3:1f. The prayer may contain words of knowledge and wisdom. It is a "prayer of faith" James 5:13-18.

* Public Prayer. In a Christian or public gathering. The prayer is representative of all others present. Not personal. Nor an occasion for oratory (or assumed oratory!). Note the plural forms in Acts 4:23-31.

* Corporate Prayer. Groups praying together aloud or silently. See Acts 4:23-31 again. If 500 people pray aloud simultaneously God can unscramble it! Moreover, corporate prayer can be a seismic force in routing evil and spirit powers.

The first disciples asked Jesus, "Lord teach us how to pray" (Luke 11:1) Let's become known as prayer activitists. The real dynamic is not in today's trend to "Christian infotainment". Authentic, heaven-approved power is in Biblical prayer that leads to biblical witness.

- Paul E. Grant

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