Take Hold of Yourself in Prayer – Seven Principles
1. Remember the Value of Prayer. As ministers, we must remember that prayer is essential for our ministry and every duty we do as a minister of the gospel. Make it a rule to never engage in any activity in ministry without first seeking God in prayer. I have got to go to God in prayer. It is the most Christ-like thing we can engage in, brothers.
What a blessing that we have been called to be men of prayer. Many other men have to work ten hours a day in their secular vocation and we get to spend hours praying. Again my father told me just to have a place to go with your every need is worth more than anything money can buy.
William Bridge said that a praying man can never be miserable because he has the ear of God.
Nothing is so valuable as prayer. The angel fetched Peter out of prison, but it was prayer that fetched the angel. This is Heaven’s greatest weapon.
2. Maintain the Priority of Prayer. Jesus said, “Without me, you can do nothing.” Prayer has got to be first. It has to be our priority in every need. Spurgeon wrote, “Your prayers will be your greatest aid in your preparations. And after the sermon, how can a preacher give vent to his soul if the mercy seat were denied him.” How hard do you pray after your sermon is over? They would pray after the sermon, “Please, Lord. Don’t let the birds take away the seeds of that sermon.”
I fear that the pressures of the ministry today to be a jack-of-all-trades, pressures at home, pressures in the media crowd out our time for the priority of this ministry of prayer. We lose our power and authority. You have to have windows of prayer between your visits and appointments. That is the way to do it. Keep prayer your priority, not just during your times when you feel like a sailboat gliding effortlessly but also when you feel like an ice breaker.
3. Prayer With Sincerity. Psalm 62:8. The way to pray is to tell the Lord everything about you like he didn’t know anything about you all the while knowing he knows everything about you. Sometimes praying with sincerity means praying briefly, “Oh, God! Oh, God! Oh, God!” God does not look at the logic of your prayers or the style of your prayers but the sincerity of your prayers.
Sincerity in prayer requires integrity in our marriages. Let your prayers be not hindered. Taking hold of our prayers may mean to take hold of our bad attitudes or our treatment of our wives. You have to do something about that. Perhaps praying first a prayer of repentance. We need to avoid professionalism in our prayers because it is not about our prayers but about our hearts. Spurgeon was asked how to get better at praying in public. He responded, “Pray more in private.”
4. Cultivate a Continual Spirit of Prayer. Isn’t it true that when you are really close to God that you have those “occasional prayers”? You pray your way through the day. You pray without ceasing. It is not just during your set times of prayer. We should be like a bird returning to its nest when we return to God in prayer. That is praying in your prayer—having the sense of relationship and knowing that your prayers reach the courts of Heaven.
It struck me how much Calvin used the example of a child crawling up into his father’s lap in relation to prayer. Pray continually. Ask God to help you do that. Whenever you have the least impulse to pray, pray! We have so few impulses to pray that we ought to take advantage of every one of them.
5. Work Toward Organization in Intercessory Prayer. We are ministers. We owe it to our people to pray for every single one of them. We know them and we should pray for them one by one. How? Be strategic. Have set lists that you have organized and categorized to pray for other people. Newton said his best friends were those who prayed for him. It will be encouraging to your people for them to know you are praying for them. I take the church directory and pray for the people on one page each day. You love your people and you know their needs.
6. Read the Bible for Prayer. Prayer is a two-way conversation. God comes to us in prayer and we return to him in prayer. Read verse-by-verse, and pray verse-by-verse. Pray your way through the Scriptures. Turn the psalms into prayer.
Fill your mind with Scripture and your prayers will gain life. In the house churches in China, they had no Scriptures in print but had so much memorized that their prayers were filled with it. When I get discouraged in my prayers, I often look to volumes of saints’ prayers from the past. I have found that they are filled with Scripture.
7. Keep Biblical Balance in Your Prayers. There are many different kinds of prayers in Scripture, aren’t there? We need to examine our prayer life from time to time and check to see if our prayers are repetitive. Are we covering the same bases when we pray? Listen to others pray. We can learn from others in how we pray.
Video Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EY6d6WjpvMc