3 Ways to Pray With Purpose
Dan Turner – Soul Care Pastor
Prayer is powerful. Many of us have heard stories about the power of prayer in the lives of others. We might've even experienced that power first hand! Not only is prayer powerful, but God asks us to pray to Him. He says that He hears our prayers and answers them. So, if we've heard and seen the stories that attest to the power of prayer and we know it's something that God wants us to do, why is it such a struggle for us to do it?
It's a struggle for me because I believe that I have all the answers. If I don't go to God in prayer, it's typically because I believe I have the wisdom to figure out the solution to my problems. What I'm saying to God is this - "I can figure it out. I can fix the situation." But I couldn't be more wrong! Ultimately, this is a major lack of humility on my part. I think more highly of myself than I should and so I don't call out to God for wisdom and lay my needs at His feet.
Are You a Manufacturer or a Distributor?
"The trouble with too many of us is that we think God called us to be manufacturers when He really called us to be distributors. He alone has the resources to meet [our] needs; all we can do is receive His riches and share them with others." – Warren Wiersbe
Here's the thing - when we pray, we aren't informing God of anything. He knows everything! When we pray, we're humbling ourselves before God, admitting that we can't manufacture a solution to our problems. We are desperate for direction and must run to the God of the universe for guidance. We need to admit that we have very little wisdom and that we cannot manufacture a solution in our own power.
As we realize that we are called to be humble distributors in reliance on Him through prayer, it will drive us to rely on Him. We don't have to manufacture an answer or problem solve on how to proceed. We just have to ask. God's Word calls us to confidently "...draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." (Heb. 4:16)
Our confidence is not in our manufactured solutions, but in the fact that God promises that He hears and He will answer. His Word promises us mercy and grace in our time of need. We need an answer from Him so that we can receive this for ourselves and then distribute it to others.
We Must Be Intentional With Prayer
Before stepping into full-time ministry, I was a project manager. Often, I would be faced with an extremely difficult problem to solve. In these circumstances, I would assemble a team to research options, look for solutions, and hopefully solve the issue at hand. I would also write a brief statement about the issue on the whiteboard in my office. Every time I walked in my office I would be reminded to put some thought into this issue. I would post reminders on my calendar to spend time working through the issue. I would gather my team for meetings and discuss their findings toward resolution. I was consistently intentional about solving the issue.
I would like to tell you I relied on God for the answers to the issues more than my own intentionality, but that was not the case for many years. However, I did learn some important things from that time. I learned that intentionality is extremely important. Prayer doesn't just happen - we must be intentional about it. I'm not just talking about prayer before meals or praying with your kids before bedtime. I'm talking about intentional, on the calendar, in front of you constantly, so you are reminded to pray. Here are three ways to be more intentional in your prayer life:
Three Ways to be More Intentional in Prayer
- Scheduled Prayers
Set a recurring time each day that you will commit to pray. And not just for the things you need answers for, but also thanking God for all He has done in your life. My strong recommendation is that this is the same time every day. Build it into your daily routine - just like brushing your teeth! And it doesn't have to be for multiple hours every day - just schedule intentional time for you to talk to God. Praise Him for what He is doing and ask for answers so that you can receive them for yourself and distribute them to others.
- Journaled Prayers
Use a prayer journal to record your praises (what He has already done) and your petitions (what you are asking Him to do). There are many great formats available for prayer journals. I have one that my wife and I have used for many years. It's awesome to go back and look at how God has answered so many of our concerns, to be reminded to go to Him with praise, and reach out to others and distribute those blessings to others.
- Flared Prayers
These are spur of the moment, call out to God for wisdom prayers. It's a quick prayer as you see beautiful Lake Michigan, thanking God that you get to live where people go for vacation! This is a "Thank you, Lord!" after a near miss accident. This is you calling out to God before you walk in that tense meeting. They are small intentional displays of your dependance on your God.
We need to remember that God calls us to confidently approach Him in prayer - when we draw near to Him, He promises that He will draw near to us. Let's commit to humbling ourselves before God and bring our needs to Him with intentionality. He hasn't called us to be manufacturers - He's called us to rely on Him and share the grace we receive from Him with others!