Just Pray

man-praying-bible-bsm-667x476Too many believers have relegated prayer to what happens on a Sunday morning to kick off a church service, or what happens in Sunday School or on Wednesday Night when people add to the ‘who’s sick’ list. Prayer is more than just a program, a spiritual discipline, or a weekly prayer meeting. All of these things are included in prayer, but it is really a lifestyle of connecting and communing with God.

Christians seem to know that they should pray and want to pray, but they don’t know how to pray. Many times as leaders, we do not give people an outlet to pray to the Lord. They are not allowed, in most of our churches, to pour their hearts out to God in worship services–there is no time. Part of the problem is that spiritual leaders are not pouring themselves out to God in prayer.

One survey said the average pastor prays only seven minutes a day! Another said that 80% of pastors surveyed spend less than 15 minutes a day in prayer. The most generous survey said that pastors pray all of 37 minutes a day.[1] This is a sad statistic–those who are supposed to be the closest to the Lord, and leading others to a deeper relationship with him, are not spending a sufficient amount of time with the Lord themselves. At best (37 minutes a day) pastors are spending about 9 ½ days a year in prayer.

Since leaders are not spending time with God through prayer, how can they expect their people to spend time in prayer with God? We preach about how God wants to move in and among our churches and are then disappointed when our efforts fail. Lowell Snow writes, “The land is ripe for spiritual harvest, yet the church seems to be powerless to reap it because the people in the pews are not experiencing an authentic encounter with God. […] The major roadblock isn’t the lack of desire or effort, but the absence of effective prayer…”[2]

The indictment of today’s church is that it has an “absence of effective prayer.” This absence of prayer has caused impotence in the church today. People want to see God work in mighty ways. They want to see God work in them in mighty ways. They want to experience the God of the Bible, who answerers the prayers of His people. However, they are not experiencing this, as such, they are left wanting.

Henderson gives the 4/4 prayer pattern, which can be helpful in leading us in prayer. In this approach he follows the conducting pattern of a conductor: Upward, Downward, Inward, Outward, Upward. These are described as follows: [3]

  • Upward. This is a focus on Reverence and Adoration.
  • Downward. This is a focus on our Response. Yielding our self to the Lord. It will contain elements of confession, allegiance to God, and recommitment to God’s Purpose.
  • Inward. This is a focus on Requests. These requests are taken before the service starts. This is a time of trust in the provision of God, prayer for the lost, and forgiveness and purity. Using a journal during this time can help.
  • Outward. This is a focus on Readiness. Praying to prepare for spiritual tests that are upcoming. This is also a good time to read and memorize scripture.
  • Upward. Reverence. Ending where you began, focusing on the greatness of God.

There are many ways, patterns, and methods to get us on on our knees in prayer. However, knowing a lot of techniques is useless unless we simply pray.

Take some time to pray right now using Henderson’s method above.

 

 

[1] Dave Earley, “Creating a Passion for Prayer,” (lecture, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Kansas City, MO).

[2]Lowell Snow, Prayer Guide: A Manual for Leading Prayer, Stonehouse Creations: Prairie Grove, AR. 2006. p.141.

[3] Daniel Henderson, Fresh Encounters. NavPress: Colorado Springs, Colorado, 2008. ch.13.

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