Week 5 – How & Why Should I Pray?
Jeremiah 33:3 (ESV)
3 Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.
How and Why Should I Pray? – Nicky Gumbel
This week is all about prayer, I have been looking forward to this week and the upcoming week from the perspective of wanting to know what other people think, hearing other people’ss tories and being able to share my experiences and just helping each other to move forward.
Week 5 – How & Why Should I Pray?
This weeks topic is really good because Nicky Gumbel explains prayer as it should be. He spoke about so many of the things that I have learned about prayer and I was just really happy that this program reaches so many people. Why? Because we over complicate prayer. We are ritualistic about prayer for many reasons; upbringing, other people’s prayers, not knowing or understanding what prayer is. This video reinforced my understanding of prayer, it is simple just like Jesus’ prayers.
I can’t remember the conversation from today’s session because it went down a different road and it left me really thinking about the importance of the Bible. So I won’t be talking too much about the session itself (in this post) but more about prayer through my own experiences.
What is prayer? Prayer is a conversation with God, through Jesus. Jesus plays the role of go between in a sense. Without Him and His sacrifice for us we would not be able to have a conversation with God the way that we do. We would still be sacrificing lambs for our sins to be atoned and we would still be going to the priests to talk to God (I just realised that there are some people who do this still.) Prayer is not a ritualistic thing that we do as part of our religion, it is us talking to God.
One way of understanding prayer is from our relationships with the people around us. We speak to our family and friends in varying ways; to catch up with them, to inform them about what’s happening, to vent, to ask for help, to encourage each other the list goes on. That’s exactly how we should view our conversations with God, we have them (not for God but for us, God knows everything,) to show God that he is above everyone else. We have all turned to family and friends but we trust in God above everyone else, He is the source of it all so we should be turning to Him first and last.
How Should I Pray? Pray from the heart. I will not stop stressing this, prayer is from the heart not from the mouth or the head. When we pray from our heads or mouths we end up complicating the whole process and we become ritualistic and envious of others. (If you want to read about what envy did to my prayers it’s all here & below.) A lot of us have people around us who we view as being really spiritual and we inevitably get caught up in trying to be like them when God doesn’t want us to be like them especially not in our prayer lives.
Where did my prayer life start to go wrong? I remember I was praying and felt a little bit sad that I couldn’t pray “powerful prayers” like other people could. I felt as though what I said didn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. I also felt as though my prayer could not be prayed publicly. But how wrong was I? After these thoughts I asked Jesus to help me to pray like other people do. BIG MISTAKE. I can remember celebrating when I prayed a prayer that lasted a long time and it covered so many areas, I felt so pleased with myself because I could pray like everyone else. Pride overtook me! A few days later I laid in bed asking myself why I had even asked for my prayers to become more like other people’s.
I hadn’t gained anything I actually lost everything that made my prayers authentic and most importantly mine.
Our prayers are unique to us because no one else lives our lives, no one else experiences what we experience, we have similar stories to others but we don’t have the exact same story. If you have siblings you will understand this, we grow up in households with our siblings but even within that we all have different experiences of our parents and of each other. We have different personalities, friendships, maturity levels and interests and all of these things make us unique. That’s the same for us as Christians, we all belong to one family but we play a different role within that, some people can pray for days other can preach, sing, intercede, comfort, the list is very long. Trying to be like someone else only hinders us from really experiencing God for ourselves.
What can I do/use to help me pray? My prayer life began in journals. (read about it here, there’s a snippet below.)
My prayer life started with journals it didn’t start with me opening my mouth because of my personality which was greatly affected by my past I found it extremely difficult to be honest about my emotions -prayer is all about opening your heart to God.
When Nicky mentioned his prayer journals I was probably smiling like a crazy lady but it made see the importance of writing prayers down. When we write our prayers down we are getting things out of our minds and hearts for God to work through without them clogging us up and keeping us stuck in the same place. We also get to look back and see that they were answered. Writing our prayers down is really important because we tend to forget what God has done and that’s when the devil strikes, he comes in and tells you that God doesn’t love you because He isn’t answering your prayers. But holding onto and knowing that God will answer your prayers is the greatest thing.
If you haven’t started a journal yet, start writing, you will be astonished at what God answers and how He answers.
How does God speak to / answer me when I pray? This is a post that I have not yet published, it’s sitting in drafts waiting for me to publish it. But the simplest way to answer this is God speaks to us in ways that we will understand. Some of the ways that God has spoken to me have been shady; direct, surprising and most importantly much needed.
I can remember asking God to give me something so that I could get something else, His response was “Why do you need this in order to have that?” I instantly stopped crying and got it together and got what I asked God for without the other thing that I did not need in the first place.
James 4:3 (ESV)
3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.
I can also remember praying and asking God to answer a specific question I had about wealth; riches, money lack and want of. And He answered my prayer literally the next day; His answer came whilst I was on the discover page on instagram. I clicked on a picture and because it was cute I decided to go on the persons profile I noticed that the person had scripture in the bio and after a couple of scrolls I was like “I’m out, I don’t need to be here,” I scrolled back up and I laughed out loud “haha it would be so funny if I had a scripture in my bio, my scripture would be… Ecclesiastes 5:10” I then looked up the scripture and it answered my prayer from the night before and I was like “God, really you came for me like that? I was laughing at someone else but you gave me a scripture? What? Really?”
Even though I was laughing at someone else God used that to answer my question. And in that moment I understood God a little bit better than I did before. God doesn’t care where you are, He will use one thing for another. Would I have gotten my answer in another way? Yes! I could, but God had to come for me where I was to show me who I had become. He had to speak to me in a language that I would understand clearly to answer my prayer and show me another issue in my life. For a few days I was baffled at how God had answered me in such a way, “I was doing something bad but God answered my prayer, WOW.”
Prayer is powerful in the battle against the evil that is in this world, if you think that you don’t know how to pray; pray before you pray, ask God to help you to pray at the start of your prayer, ask Him to help you open your heart to Him. Utilise everything that you can in order to learn and grow in prayer, if that’s writing you prayers down start there, if it’s in saying the same prayer everyday do that until you are able to say more.