(18) Using every prayer and petition, pray in every time and circumstance in the Spirit. Keep on diligently interceding for all the saints. — Ephesians 6:18
Have you ever listened to the testimony of someone who spent hours or even days doing nothing but praying? Did you wonder just how they do that, and why your prayer life seemed so tiny and unimportant beside theirs? If you’ve never felt that way, or if you’re one of those folks who does pray like that, this may not be for you. I’m talking to the people who for various reasons find it difficult. Perhaps your prayers to God are short and to the point. Perhaps you just never seem to get around to prayer time, and fell your spiritual life slipping.
Whatever the cause, you feel that your prayer life is not adequate, it’s not doing the job, and you wish you could get a little bit closer to those tremendously merit filled saints who fast and pray for hours and days at a time, interceding for God’s people.
First let me speak a word of encouragement. There are many ways to lead a life of prayer, that is, a life of communion with God. Long hours of intercession may simply not be your calling. You may not be called to days of fasting. Weeping at the altar may be for other people. Just remember not to use â€œI’m not called to do thatâ€ as an excuse for avoiding things you don’t want to do.
Further, I know that many believe that â€œpraying in the spiritâ€ refers specifically to speaking in tongues. Now tongues is one way to pray in the spirit, but that is not for everyone, nor is it the only way to pray in the spirit. I would suggest that â€œpraying in the spiritâ€ (and notice that in the verse above I capitalized â€œSpiritâ€) is simply listening to God and praying in God’s will. Your prayer life will become very powerful when you start praying for the things God wants to do. If you think that sounds boring or weak, if you feel that prayer can only be powerful if God does what YOU want, then maybe you haven’t experienced praying in the spirit, and in God’s will. God will adjust YOU, and you will see powerful things happening all around you.
But how does an ordinary person go about praying â€œin all times and circumstancesâ€ and doing so â€œin the power of the Spirit?â€ Let me make some suggestions. These aren’t exhaustive. They are just a way to get you started:
Â· Start your morning with a prayer of thanksgiving as soon as you wake up. Night people may find this hard to do, because they don’t wake up terribly alert, but it’s worth it. You don’t need to make it complicated. Sometimes I say, â€œGood morning, Lord,â€ and leave it at that.
Â· As you go through your day as you encounter things, offer a one sentence prayer in your mind. If you feel called to pray for national leaders, pray when you listen to the news. Instead of yelling â€œyou idiotâ€ when some leader does something stupid, pray, â€œLord, bless _____ with your wisdom.â€ When your children call, or you see their picture on your walls, offer a sentence prayer of blessing. If you hear about someone in trouble, offer a short prayer for them on the spot. If you hear about something good, say a sentence of thanks to the Lord right then.
Â· Follow my earlier suggestion about Bible study. Enclose your study time in prayer.
Â· Most importantly, listen. You might make listening a standard petition for your morning prayer. â€œLord, help me to listen to you and obey you today.â€ The key to a powerful prayer life is letting God into your life to change you and bring you into agreement with his will.
Â· In the evening, thank God for the day. Us morning people (I’m a morning person) need to pay attention to this. I read in the evening until I’m ready to drop off. It’s easy for me to drift to sleep without remembering to pray, but again, it doesn’t have to be complicated or long.
If you use these few ideas, and many more that God will bring to your mind, you can bracket and blanket your whole day in prayer. In every time and circumstance, be in touch with your creator.