"But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers."
Below I am presenting a few suggestions I have found very useful in developing my prayerlife. First and foremost, a devoted time of prayer should start with worship - a time of thanksgiving and praise during which we present our whole being to God. Jesus tells us, "But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." (Matt 6:6) Then He says, "This, then, is how you should pray: "'Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name." (Matt 6:9) This denotes worship. "'And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.' This is the first commandment." (Mark 12:30) Psalm 100:4 states, "Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise: be thankful unto Him, and bless His name."
David the psalmist worshipped the Lord God with singing. God said about David, "I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will." (Acts 13:22) I have found it very useful to play a CD of worship and praise music before entering a time of prayer. This helps me put my focus on God, to enter into His presence. Remember that there is continual worship around the throne of God in heaven (Rev. 4). It is possible by faith to join in with this worship. Personally, I favor worship songs such as made available by Hosanna! Integrity Music and Terry MacAlmon Ministries. In any case Scripture or words of praise and worship set to music carry a special impact both in terms of coming into God's holy presence and in setting to flight the powers of darkness. Because of this, it is also very good for lifting us out of periods of depression into the very heavenlies where our Father God resides in His glory.
And we can follow this up by singing:
"By Your mercies I present my body a living sacrifice, made holy and acceptable to You (through the finished work of your Son), which is my reasonable service of worship. I want not to be conformed to this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of my mind so that I may prove what your will is, that which is good, acceptable and perfect."And I sing:
"Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, 'The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.' The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD."I know from this Scripture that the Lord's mercies are renewed and made fresh each morning, so that each day can be a fresh new start in our walk with Christ. I can leave the previous day's sins and failures under the blood of Christ (1 John 1:7, 9) and God gives me a "blank slate" in the promise that He has forgiven - and forgotten - what has been confessed and put under the blood of His Son. Hallelujah!!!
And I will not ignore the Holy Spirit's urging to pray in the Spirit: "But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in God's love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life." (Jude 20)
Secondly, we should have a time of confession and cleansing. Many Christians start out with this first instead of worship, perhaps thinking that they must "work" themselves into the presence of God. But God does not accept "works," and we are told by Scripture that because of what our Savior has done "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." (Heb 4:16) As we learned above, we approach our Father God "by His mercies" in an attitude of worshipful thanksgiving and praise - we focus on HIM instead of on ourselves, knowing that we must hearken to His Word when it tells us to "Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life." (Prov 4:23) I now invite God's Holy Spirit to "Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way." (Ps 139:23-24) I certainly want to know if there is anything in my life that might obstruct and be "hurtful" to my walk with God. But I must take care in doing this, because I know that "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? (Jer 17:9) I must hearken especially to my Lord's admonition to forgive others (Matt. 6:12, 14-15) to enjoy full fellowship with Him, unhindered by sin. "If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us." (I Jn 1:6-10)
"Lord, please show me how to walk in the light as You are in the light that I might have true fellowship with you and my brothers and sisters, as the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses me from all sin."
With my mouth and my heart I confess these things: "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer. (Ps 19:14) "My mouth will speak words of wisdom; the utterance from my heart will give understanding." (Ps 49:3) "Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips." (Ps 141:3) "I said, "I will guard my ways, that I may not sin with my tongue; I will guard my mouth as with a muzzle, while the wicked are in my presence." (Ps 39:1)
As I do all these things, praying and singing these verses, I must keep in mind constantly what God's holy purpose is - to keep in view His goal, which must also be my goal:
"But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on in order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.God's goal for us in Christ Jesus is stated very simply, succinctly and beautifully in Rom. 8:28-9: "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son, that He might be the firsthborn among many brothers."
God's holy purpose is to conform us to the image of His Son.. Therefore in the light of all this I can pray daily, "Heavenly Father, may your Holy Spirit use all things I encounter this day to work to the good in conforming me to the image of your Son. I yield my total being to that heavenly goal and want to cooperate fully with your plans and purpose for my life."
"Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only,
but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;
for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure." (Phil 2:12-13)
"Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." (Matt. 6:10)
The last part of this study involves developing a sensitive ear to the Lord's voice in order to know His will and do it. "But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up." (James 4:6-10) According to 1 Peter 5:6-11, I pray:
" I submit myself humbly under Your mighty hand, O God, that you may exalt me in due time, casting all my care upon You, for You care for me. Help me to be very watchful at all times for my adversary the devil is walking around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. I resist him now, steadfast in the faith, knowing that my brothers (and sisters) throughout the world are going through the same kind of sufferings. But may You, God of all grace, after I have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle me. To You be the glory and the dominion forever. Amen."There are of course many other verses that can be prayed in this manner as well, as the Holy Spirit leads. For example - 2 Cor. 10:3-5 and Matt. 6:33. Ephesians 6:10-18 can be prayed in this way:
"Father, help me to be strong with the strength of Your might. According to Your Word, I want to put on the full armor of God, that I might be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. I know our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, I put on the full armor of God, that I may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. In Christ I stand firm, therefore, having girded my loins with Truth (knowing that the Lord Jesus is the Truth - John 14:6), and having put on the breastplate of Righteousness (knowing that Jesus is my Righteousness - 1 Cor. 1:30), and outfitting my feet with the preparation of the gospel of Peace (knowing Jesus is my Peace - John 14:27). In addition to this I take up the Shield of Faith (knowing that the Lord is my Shield - Psalm 3:3) by which I will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And I take the helmet of Salvation (knowing Jesus is my Salvation - Matt. 1:21) and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God (knowing that Jesus is the Word - John 1:14).""In doing all this, I am putting on the Lord Jesus Christ, and making no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts." (Rom 13:14)
"I delight myself in You, Lord, You will give me the desires of my heart. I commit my way to You, and trust in You, and You will do it." (Ps. 37:4-5) Of course, what are the desires of our heart? Are they in keeping with what we prayed in Matt. 6:33 (which is certainly a key verse for keeping our priorities straight)? No need to ask the apostle Paul what his "desires" were - they are obviously stated in Phil. 3:10 (note Jn. 17:3). "But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, 'You are my God.' My times are in your hands; deliver me from my enemies and from those who pursue me. Let your face shine on your servant; save me in your unfailing love." (Ps 31:14-16)
"I trust in you, Lord, with all my heart and will not lean on my own understanding but will in all my ways acknowledge You, and You shall direct my paths." (Prov. 3:5-7) Ps. 23 can also be prayed in this manner. "O LORD, my heart is not proud, nor my eyes haughty; nor do I involve myself in great matters, or in things too difficult for me. Surely I have composed and quieted my soul...." (Ps 131:1-2)
"Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. Remember, O LORD, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old." (Ps 25:4-6) We can expect the Lord to speak to us in various ways (refer to Knowing God's Will on this site). "And your ears will hear a word behind you, "This is the way, walk in it," whenever you turn to the right or to the left." (Isa 30:21)
And of course our Lord tells us:
As stated above, this study was meant to assist in developing a prayer-relationship with our Lord. So many times when we pray we just seem to talk at God rather than try to develop a "listening ear." He is our heavenly Father, after all, with whom we will be for all eternity.
As I stated at the outset, I have read many books on prayer over the years, The book that has helped me the most - and upon which this study is respectfully based - is Pastor Jack Hayford's book, "Daybreak - Walking with Christ Everyday." It was published in 1984 by Living Way Ministries. For a printable outline of the Scripture verses included in the above study Go Here.
Following is a suggested prayer that can be prayed daily in addition to the above:
"I am grateful, Heavenly Father, that the Lord Jesus Christ triumphed over all principalities and dark powers. I claim that victory for my life today. I reject all accusations and temptations of Satan. I affirm that Your Word is true and I choose to live in the light of Your Word. Open my eyes and show me the areas of my life that do not please You. Work in me to cleanse me from all ground that would give Satan a foothold against me. I am thankful that You have made a provision so that today I can live filled the Holy Spirit - empowered to be a witness to my Lord Jesus Christ, with love and joy and peace,with long-suffering, gentleness and goodness, with meekness, faithfulness and self-control in my life. I recognize that this is Your will for me and I therefore reject and resist all the endeavors of Satan and his wicked spirits to rob me of the will of God. I come against every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God and take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ. In my own life today I tear down the strongholds of Satan and smash the plans of Satan that have been formed against me. I tear down the strongholds of Satan against my mind, and I surrender my mind to You, blessed Holy Spirit, taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ and invite You into this place to have complete sovereign authority. I affirm, Heavenly Father, that You have not given me the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. I break and smash the strongholds of Satan formed against my emotions today and I give my emotions to You. I smash the strongholds of Satan formed against my will today, I give my will to you, and choose to make the right decisions of faith. I smash the strongholds of Satan formed against my body today, I give my body to You recognizing that I am Your temple. I rejoice in Your mercy & goodness. Heavenly Father, I pray that now and through this day You would strengthen and enlighten me, show me the way Satan is hindering and tempting and lying and distorting the truth in my life. I cover myself with the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ and pray that You, blessed Holy Spirit, would bring all the work of the crucifixion, all the work of the resurrection, all the work of the glorification, and all the work of Pentecost into my life today. Amen."
Have you taken your place with Christ in His death? By an act of faith we must lay hold of that death as our death; we must place Christ's Cross between ourselves and "the body of sin" and learn to refuse on the basis of our crucifixion the life of self-centeredness, the "flesh life." We must take our stand with Christ on Calvary ground and each time that the "self-life" would assert itself, say: "In Christ I died. In His name , I refuse." ("Bone of His Bone," F. J. Huegel, pp. 45-6, Zondervan Publishing House, 1940) Or, perhaps better yet, as the apostle Paul urges us in Romans 6, "I yield myself not to unrighteousness but to righteousness, in Jesus name." This done, the Holy Spirit will bear witness to our faith and set us free, and keep us free.