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Mike Bickle: How I Overcame a Boring Prayer Life.


praying woman
(© PapaBear (

God is going to fill the church with enjoyable prayer that is refreshing and invigorating.

I probably know more about boring, unanointed prayer than any other person on Earth–or I ought to. I’ve engaged in enough of it during my lifetime! Though I have felt called for more than 20 years to be a person of prayer, it was not until recently that I learned the true secret to a successful prayer life.

I started searching for the secret in my college days, but it eluded me. I read books on prayer and the deeper life in God, but when it got down to actually praying, I was an absolute failure.

I religiously scheduled time to spend alone with God. Yet my efforts at praying were frustrating and unfulfilling.

I dreaded prayer time. I’d made a vow to God that I’d pray an hour every night, and I made up my mind to stick to it, regardless. But after months of drudgery, I told Him, “Lord, I really love You, but I don’t enjoy praying.”

I still remember the awful condemnation I felt. A sense of defeat nearly overwhelmed me as I shook my head and sighed, “Lord, will I ever like talking to You?”

At the time, I was living in an apartment with three other Christian guys. Every night around 8:45, my roommates would notice that I was starting to get uptight because my prayer time, which I had designated as 9 to 10 p.m., was approaching. I hated going into my room to pray! I knew the next hour was going to be lifeless and boring.

Who would ever have guessed that eventually I would enjoy prayer so much I would resign as pastor of my church to lead a 24-hour-a-day prayer ministry?

My journey to enjoyable prayer began with a study of the tabernacle of David (see Acts 15:16-17). The tabernacle of David refers in part to a 24-hour prayer ministry that King David established. David put musicians and singers before the ark in place of the veil that Moses had used (see 1 Chr. 25:1-7). He valued the prophetic spirit (spirit of inspiration) resting on the singers and musicians that inspired the intercessors to soar in power.

David’s model for what I call “intercessory worship” grew out of his primary life desire–“to behold the beauty of the Lord” (Ps. 27:4, NKJV; see also 145:5). The desire to dwell in the beauty realm of God is a vital foundation for intercessory worship in the spirit of the tabernacle of David.

Isaiah prophesied about a paradigm of prayer marked by joy. The Lord promised, “‘I will…make [you] joyful in My house of prayer'” (Is. 56:7). Imagine the implications! God is going to fill the church with enjoyable prayer that is refreshing and invigorating.

Revelation tells us “the 24 elders around the throne fall down before Jesus, each having a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints” (5:8). The harp speaks of worship; the bowl speaks of intercession. When the harp (worship music) comes together with the bowl (intercession), a spiritual dynamic occurs that enhances our enjoyment of prayer.

God ordained that the worship music around the throne flow interactively with intercession. God’s songs and God’s prayers flow together. This is the secret to the “enjoyable prayer” that Isaiah prophesiedabout.

I believe the Holy Spirit is orchestrating a global prayer strategy in these days that will far eclipse any other prayer movement in church history. He is raising up 24-hour-a-day “prayer furnaces” that are vital to the Great Commission. These full-time prayer ministries will be the key to reaching unchurched peoples all over the world and the foundation for the full restoration of the tabernacle of David in the generation in which the Lord returns.

I am now the director of one such prayer ministry, called the International House of Prayer, in Kansas City, Missouri. Much of our structure and the principles on which the ministry is based are posted on our Web site ( We try to follow the pattern established by David, in which worship and intercession go hand in hand and are inspired by holy fascination with God.

With this model, I don’t expect prayer ever to be boring again.



Reach Out by Prayer.

For God is my witness … that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers, making request if, by some means, now at last I may find a way in the will of God to come to you.
Romans 1:9-10

Recommended Reading
Philippians 1:3-6 ( )

Winston and Clementine: The Personal Letters of the Churchills  contains the voluminous correspondence carried on between the famous prime minister and his wife. Though political and wartime duties resulted in lengthy separations, the couple also carried on written correspondence when in the same house. Working in their separate offices, the Churchills sent written love notes via the servants to one another throughout the day.

Listen to Today’s Radio Message ( )

The apostle Paul also used written correspondence to support the young churches in the Mediterranean world, but he also used a different means of support: He prayed faithfully. Many Christians don’t realize that Paul had never visited Rome when he wrote his most famous letter to the church there. But oh, how he prayed for them! He made mention of them “always in [his] prayers.”

If you are separated from those you love, technology gives you many ways to stay in touch. But the most important way to reach out and touch others is through prayer. Why not pray for someone right now who is dear to you?

The chief purpose of prayer is that God may be glorified in the answer.
R. A. Torrey

Matthew 7-9

By David Jeremiah.

Don’t Heap up Empty Phrases in Prayer?.

Jesus said that when we pray we should “not heap up empty phrases” (Matthew 6:7). Later he lamented a hypocritical form of worship by quoting the indictment that first came through Isaiah: “These people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me” (Isaiah 29:13Matthew 15:8).

We must be so careful when we bow our heads to pray, or lift our voices to sing. God is not impressed when we utter mere words such as “Praise the Lord!” or “Hallelujah!” He is looking for worshippers whose spirits (i.e., minds, hearts, and thoughts) are engaged in expressing the meaning of those words (cf. John 4:23). It is easy to melodically recite lyrics of Christian songs, but it takes concentration, sincerity and thoughtfulness to truly worship in song. We should never hide behind fine sounding words while our minds wander through a set of thoughts about something else.

This is a special challenge when someone else is leading us in prayer during a church service or at a Bible study. Those words coming from the one composing and vocalizing the prayer must be echoed in our own minds and then thoughtfully directed to God from our own hearts. When we are leading in prayer or praying privately, we must be careful to never “heap up empty phrases” which our minds never grasp or our hearts never direct to God.

Real prayer and real worship require our minds. Don’t switch them off. Don’t let them wander. God deserves our full attention and desires our attentive communication.

Taken from “Empty Phrases ” by Focal Point Ministries (used by permission).

Mike Fabarez

The Power of Prayer.

Pray without ceasing. 1 Thessalonians 5:17

Prayer is our communication link with God. Open, constant communication with Him keeps us within calling distance. When we neglect our prayer life, we experience a major breakdown in communication from headquarters. Then we can’t receive orders from our Commander-in-Chief.

When that line of communication is down, our spirit man cannot receive direction from God. We become vulnerable to the enemy and are subsequently motivated by our flesh instead of our spirit. Our ears become deafened to the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit, and the whispered lies from the enemy begin to sound believable.

When you pray, you have access into the spirit realm where God is; and He will reveal to you the root cause of any battle you are facing.

Prayer in private equals power in public. Battles are won in your prayer closet on your face before God interceding in prayer, seeking His wisdom and receiving His direction.

Teach me, Lord, how to pray without ceasing in both
my private and public moments. Help me to keep my
mind and heart continually communicating
with You. Amen.


Daniel’s Principles of Prayer.

Dag Heward-Mills

1. Prayer is very important.

2. No one is ever too busy, too blessed or too
successful to pray.

3. Prayer is the source of our power and protection.

4. Prayer is important in acquiring and sustaining the blessings of God.

5. For prayer to be effective, it must be habitual.

6. Prayer must continue both in troubled times and in times of peace.

7. Every nation needs lots of prayer and prayerful leaders.

8. It is important to pray for long periods of time.

9. It is important to enter your closet for effective prayer.

10. Everyone must develop the ability and the formulae
for praying four times a day.

Giving in to Effective Prayer: The David Wilkerson Story.

David Wilkerson
David Wilkerson

On Feb. 9, 1958, a young Assemblies of God pastor in a rural town in Pennsylvania was watching the late show on TV while his wife and small children were asleep. On that night he evaluated his life.

“How much time am I spending in front of the TV each night?” he asked himself. “A couple of hours at least. What if I sold the TV set and spent that time praying?” The next morning he and his wife agreed to sell their TV if, after putting the ad in the paper, it sold within on hour after the paper hit the streets.

At the 29th minute the phone rang. “How much?”

The young pastor had not even thought of the price—but he instantly said, “$100.”

The caller said, “I’ll take it. I’ll be there in 15 minutes.”

On Feb. 25, a late Tuesday evening near the end of his prayer time—just 2 weeks and 2 days after the decision to sell the TV—this young pastor was in his study praying and began to feel a great heaviness. He felt an urge to pick up Life magazine, but resisted at first because he didn’t want to fall into a trap of reading a magazine on his prayer time. He had been fidgeting that evening—his wife and children had been away visiting grandparents in Pittsburgh. The magazine beckoned to him from his desk. Finally, he said, “Lord, is there something You want me to see?” He sat down in his brown swivel chair and opened the magazine.

He leafed along and came to a page that at first seemed to have nothing to interest him. It carried a pen drawing of a trial taking place 350 miles away in New York City—a place he had never been. The eyes of one of the seven figures in the drawing, on trial for murder caught his attention. The look in the boy’s eyes was one of bewilderment, hatred, and despair. The young pastor began to cry. He said aloud to himself, “What’s the matter with me?”

He looked at the picture more carefully. The boys were all teenagers. They were members of a gang called the Dragons. They had brutally attacked and killed a 15-year-old polio victim named Michael Farmer. The seven boys had stabbed Michael in the back seven times with their knives, and then beat him over the head with garrison belts. They went away wiping blood through their hair, saying, “We messed him good.”

The story revolted the young pastor. It turned his stomach. And, then a thought came—Go to New York City and help those boys. On Friday morning the young pastor was in the courtroom—and the rest of the story is history. Had David Wilkerson not given himself to prayer, Teen Challenge would never have happened.

Since that time the ministry of Teen Challenge has transformed hundreds of thousands of lives. Around the world today and every day, 24,000 men and women are currently in a center being sent free by the power of Christ.

There’s a needlepoint in David Wilkerson’s office from his daughter, Bonnie: “My dad is famous not for who he is, but because he dared to listen when God wanted to hold conversation.”

May we also listen when God wants to hold conversation. The Early Church father, John Chrysostom, expressed it eloquently and succinctly: “God can refuse nothing to a praying church.”



George O. Wood is general superintendent of the Assemblies of God. 

How to Develop Your Prayer Life.

How to Develop Your Prayer Life

I remember a poem in the Ladies Home Journal where a group of men argued around the cracker barrel about the best way to pray. Some said the best way to pray was standing up with eyes open to heaven. Others argued that it was best to pray with head bowed; others said prostrate, or kneeling, and so on. But then Jeff Brown, the well driller, spoke up. He told how he had been drilling a well over at the widow Jones’ property, and it had caved in, and he had fallen down the shaft. And he said, “The prayinest prayer I ever made, I was standing on my head.”

Now there is no doubt that God is not interested in the physical attitude of prayer. How did they pray in the Bible? I believe you can find nine different physical positions in the Bible. Jesus prayed with His eyes lifted to heaven; He prayed prostrate on the ground. Hezekiah prayed in bed with his face turned to the wall. But it doesn’t make any difference in what horizontal, vertical, or oblong direction your carcass happens to be; if your soul is not down before God, you are not praying. Your body can be in any condition, but if your soul is bold, upright, defiant against God, you know nothing about prayer.

Prayer is the growth of a soul as we come in contact with God. As the soul grows, the prayer life deepens.

First of all, chronologically, a prayer is nothing more than petition. When you were first taught to pray as children, your prayers were primarily to ask God for things. “Bless Papa and Mama, and make me a good little boy.” And then, “I pray the Lord my soul to keep.”

Some time ago, a school teacher in New York taught the Lord’s Prayer to her class, and they all learned it. Then one time she called up her pupils one by one and asked each one to repeat the Lord’s Prayer. One of the boys said, “Harold be Thy name” instead of “Hallowed be Thy name.” Another said, “Give us this day our jelly bread.” Another said, “Lead us not into Penn Station.” Another said, “Deliver us from eagles.”

Now this is understandable because little children do not know these words. And I’m quite sure that God is able, if the heart is right, to give us this day our jelly bread. It is possible to say things that are theologically wrong, and yet if the heart is right toward God, He can sort out the difficulties.

But this is baby prayer. When you’re asking for something, your praying is the lowest form of prayer. As your prayer life develops, it should go beyond this.

Now secondly, as a child develops a little, he’s taught to say “thank you,” and he’s taught not only to say it to his parents, but he’s taught to say to God, “Father, we thank Thee for this food.”

The child then learns about Thanksgiving Day in school. It’s associated with the image of a pumpkin with a cut-out face, or the picture of the Puritans hunting turkeys in the fields, or the Puritans bowing their heads in thanksgiving.

Third comes intercession. Intercession is where we stop asking for something just for ourselves and our little circle and begin to plead with God for blessings for others.

Many people have been taught that prayer is a cheap way to get anything. When they find themselves in desperate need they pray, and they do not get an answer. A boy prays, “Oh God, I want to pass that examination,” or a girl prays, “Oh God, don’t let me be the only girl who doesn’t get asked by a boy to the basketball game.” And if she happens to be the only one who doesn’t get the invitation, she may say in despair, “Oh, I don’t believe in prayer; it just doesn’t work.” As a result, her whole spiritual life may become a mess because she has not been taught the true nature of prayer. Prayer is not saying to a distant God, “Do this and that,” but prayer is basically getting to know God.

Much of the difficulty of spiritually growing up is the shifting of gears that takes a child out of spiritual childhood into a spiritual maturity. When we are children, we live largely on our parents’ faith. We say what they say; we have what they have, and we do what they do. But then comes the time when we have to shift gears, and we have to know God alone. For it is only when we know God that we begin to develop into the higher brackets, the higher attitudes of prayer.

The first three steps that I have spoken of — petition, thanksgiving, and intercession — can be entered into by almost anybody. In fact, even among the heathen there is this much knowledge about prayer.

When Mrs. Barnhouse and I were in Japan, we went to the great shrine of Ise, one of the most beautiful places in the world. And when we came to the inner sacred precincts we saw the specially robed priests. But what saddened us most of all was to see these people, with such agony and emptiness in their faces, bow in front of the shrine and then clap their hands as if to say, “God, wake up! Can’t you hear us?”

Well, much of our prayer is like this, too. There must come a time in our spiritual development when, beyond recognizing that God is the One Who can give us what we want, we learn to pray for the purpose of knowing Him better. In fact, there is no real prayer until we get beyond petition and pray for the purpose of knowing the Lord.

So the fourth step in prayer is worship. Worship, of course, comes from the old English word forworth-ship — the recognition of the worth of God, to look upon Him in wonder and see Who He really is. That is worship. To say with the men of the Old Testament, “There is none like unto thee, thou alone art our God” — that is worship (see Psalms 86:8Jeremiah 10:6-7). To recognize His sovereignty and His majesty, to long to know Him and to reach out to Him — that is worship. Jesus says in John 4:24-25, “The Father seeketh such to worship him.” There is no true prayer unless we worship Him in spirit, in the Holy Spirit, and in truth, and that means we must come through Him Who is truth, the Lord Jesus Christ.

I remember hearing a hymn in England written by Frederick Faber that brings out this meaning.1

My God, how wonderful Thou art, Thy majesty how bright!
How beautiful Thy mercy-seat, in depths of burning light!
Oh, how I fear Thee, living God, with deepest tenderest fears;
And worship Thee with trembling hope, and penitential tears.

Yet I may love Thee too, O Lord, Almighty as Thou art;
For Thou has stooped to ask of me the love of my poor heart.
No earthly father loves like Thee, no mother half so mild
Bears and forbears, as Thou hast done with me, Thy sinful child.

Father of Jesus, love’s Reward! What rapture will it be,
Prostrate before Thy throne to lie, and gaze and gaze on Thee.

When Faber wrote that, I think he was spiritually coming to that place that a young man comes to when he’s fallen in love with a girl. No matter where he is, in what company, he just sits and gazes at her. Well, there is a phase in the Christian life when we begin to get to know the Lord that way.

There are two things left in the development of a prayer life. There is judgment in prayer, prayer when you know God well enough and know His holiness well enough that you can ask Him to curse something that is evil. One must advance in the Christian experience by a very long step before he has come to the place where he is directed by the Holy Spirit to partake in imprecatory prayer. Now the Psalms hold many such prayers: “Let them be confounded and put to shame who seek after my soul; let them be turned back and brought to confusion who devise my hurt” (see Psalms 35:4;Psalms 40:14Psalms 83:17). The more that you know of the holiness of God the more you can enter into this judgment and hatred of sin, and ask the Lord to confound those that are misleading the children of God.

As I know God better and as I come close to Him, there wells in my heart a great desire that that day will come when God Almighty will crush all of the things that would lead people into false doctrines, that would take them away from the simplicity that is in Jesus Christ. I believe that when you read of some great evil that has been done, you must take sides with God and say, “Oh, God, I’m not going to take the matter into my own hands. I don’t want to destroy the man who has done evil. I pray for him, and I leave this in Your hands, but, Oh God, I do thank You that the day will come when You will send out the angels, and they will pluck out of Your kingdom the things that offend and all people that offend.” Paul said to the Corinthians, regarding the fornicator among their membership, “Deliver such as one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” (1 Corinthians 5:5).

And now the last and most delightful part of prayer is what I call conversation. Mrs. Barnhouse and I probably have as abnormal a life as anybody in America. One summer we traveled for three months of preaching engagements all across the country. For three months, Mrs. Barnhouse and I were together no more than 25 feet apart at any moment day and night. We were together at night and in the morning as we went down to the church. She sat there while I preached, and then we went back to the coffee shop and then back in a motel room where I sat at my typewriter. I realize that such a life is abnormal, humanly speaking, and yet, it may be applied spiritually. With God this is normal. We live in closer contact with Him than being cooped up together in a motel room. When Mrs. Barnhouse and I are both concentrating on something, I may begin to say something, and if she is busy, she will respond, “Wait a minute.” When she’s through with what she’s doing, she then will ask, “What is it?” But with God things are quite different; He is never interrupted. God is always leaning toward us with both ears. He’s always intent for us; He’s ready to listen to us.

Now recently I was asked how much time a day I spent in prayer. So I began to analyze it. I would jot down on a memo pad the moments at the beginning of the day, the family worship, the times definitely spent in prayer. The times I pray for missions, for all the radio listeners, and for all the readers of my books and magazine. Then I realize that if you add up all of this time, it might not make too great a show in point of time spent in prayer. But yet to me the greatest amount of time spent with God is conversation.

Now this is the highest part of prayer, when you delight yourself in the Lord. You see, He’s always with you. Your body is His temple; your whole life is His. Any time you say, “Lord,” He’s there. Even when you hear a good joke, you laugh, and say, “Thank you, Lord, for a good sense of humor.” And all of these glories are joys.

When my sons were growing up, I first knew them as babies, and they knew me as their father who came and played with them. They got to know me better as they grew up, and there were times of struggles when their will was set against my will. This is the way I was in my growth with the Lord. As time went on and these boys grew into men and began to enter into maturity, a new relationship developed, so that I would rather sit down and talk with them on serious problems of theology, the Christian life, and the Bible than I would with even my closest friends. We have now come over the hump of all stresses and tensions that we knew when they were in their teens and have become the closest of friends.

This, you see, is the way we grow with God. God likes for us to come to Him and be chatty with Him, to talk over everything and look to Him and rejoice in Him. And when you begin to know God like this, you are going to discover that you are living a life of prayer that fulfills what the New Testament teaches: “Pray without ceasing.”

When you come to the place where you can know the Lord in an intimacy that He creates, you begin to really know how to pray. Soon you discover that your heart is so yielded to His that you want nothing but what He wants. And you learn to delight yourself in the Lord; then He gives you the desires of your heart. And as you talk with Him, your purpose is to know Him better. Then you will realize the true purpose of prayer: not that you get something at a discount but that you might know Him.

How to Pray

Most Christians put fences around their prayers to save face. Many Christians have offered so many prayers through a sense of duty, and without any thought of being answered, that they are astonished when an answer truly comes from God. Consider, as an example of this, an incident that occurred in the early church as recorded in the book of the Acts. It was the time of the fifth persecution recorded in that early history of the church. Herod was king and began a persecution in which James, the brother of John, was killed, and Peter was put in prison.

We read, “Peter, therefore, was kept in prison; but prayer was made without ceasing by the church unto God for him” (Acts 12:5). The whole story gives us the picture of Peter in prison in one part of the town and a group of believers gathered together elsewhere praying for Peter. Then, suddenly, God intervened. Though Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and with guards in front of the prison door, an angel came and cast a sleep upon the guards and delivered Peter, who suddenly found himself in the street, alone.

Peter soon realized that he had been delivered by the power of God and made his way through the streets to the home of Mary, the mother of John Mark, where many were gathered together, praying. Peter knocked at the door of the gate, and a young woman, named Rhoda, came to the door to listen. Peter announced himself, and she was so confused with joy at the sound of his voice that she left him standing on the outside of the unopened gate and ran back into the house with the news of his deliverance. Now, if they had had any faith, they would have thanked God for the answer and taken it as a gift from God. But we read, “They said unto her, Thou art mad” (Acts 12:15). How sad that a group of Christians in a prayer meeting should think a person crazy who came to tell them that their prayers had been answered, but this is the fact. When the young girl constantly affirmed that it was true and that Peter was there, the leaders of the prayer meeting said, “It is his angel” (verse 15). This is a sad commentary of our slowness of heart to believe the promises and the power of God. “But Peter continued knocking” (Acts 12:16). There was no getting away from that noise at the gate, and the leaders went out and opened the gate. When they saw him, we read further that they were astonished. And even after this, it took some convincing by Peter before they really understood what had happened.

In the light of this we must not be too astonished that the church today is generally prayerless and spiritually careless. The average prayer meeting in the average church is a vain thing. In thousands of churches the prayer meetings have been eliminated, and where the mid-week service of prayer has gone by the board the Sunday evening service has generally followed. Whenever there is a true prayer meeting there is always a witnessing church, and a church with power. If anyone reading these words is looking around for a church, select one whose doctrinal creed is biblical and then look for an individual congregation whose prayer meeting is well attended, and where people are truly fervent in prayer. That is a church where there will be real spiritual life.

In seeking to learn to pray as we ought, we now come to the consideration of what it is to pray in the will of God. In John’s first epistle there is one of the greatest prayer promises in the Bible. There we read, “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us; And if we know that he hear us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him” (1 John 5:14-15).

The first thing that we must realize about this text is that it does not refer to everybody. If “we” ask anything . . . He hears “us.” Who are the “we” and the “us” in this text? The answer is in the context. It concerns only those who have been given life through Jesus Christ. It does not refer to Mohammedans or Buddhists. Nor does it refer to Protestants or Catholics who are Christians in name only. It is a promise that belongs exclusively to those who are the present possessors of eternal life. Listen to the preceding verses: “He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself . . . And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his son. He that hath the Son hath life . . . These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God, that ye may know that ye have eternal life” (1 John 5:10-13). The prayer promise follows immediately. To be honest with the Word of God it must be admitted that the promise belongs only to those who have everlasting life and who know it.

In the light of our text we must read it: “This is the confidence that we [who are saved and know it] have in him, that if we [who are saved and know it] ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us [who are saved and know it.] And if we [who are saved and know it], know that he hear us [who are saved and know it], whatever we [who are saved and know it] ask, we [who are saved and know it] know that we [who are saved and know it] have the petitions that we [who are saved and know it] desired of him.”

With this established, we may now ask the second question that the text poses. What is it to ask according to the will of God? There is no one text that is going to furnish the complete answer to that question. The whole of the Bible must be studied to find out that which is the will of God. We may, perhaps, summarize it by saying the will of God for any human being is that which is in consistent accord with the nature of God’s attributes — His holiness, His justice, His righteousness, His love, His truth. The details are to be found by living under the dominance of the Holy Spirit within the sphere of the whole of the Bible. This is the heart meaning of, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4).

Men who were unbelievers once asked the Lord Jesus, “What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered, and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent” (John 6:28-29). We may further define our theme, therefore, by pointing out that the will of God always begins, centers, and ends in Jesus Christ. As far as we can discern from the whole biblical revelation, God has no thought or desire apart from the glorification of the Lord Jesus Christ. The only prayer that an unsaved man could pray acceptably, therefore, is the thought contained in such a prayer as this: “Oh God, I deserve nothing from Thee but Thy just wrath; but Thou sayest that Thou didst love me and gave Jesus Christ to die for me. Now as best I know I stop trusting in anything that is of myself, and believe Thy word about Christ—that Thou art satisfied with His death instead of mine, and that in Him Thou doest give me life eternal.”

When such a prayer has been prayed God is already looking upon such a man in grace, and he may then come with great boldness to claim all of the promises which have been given to us in Christ. Thus our ignorance will be banished since our Lord said, “If any man will [determines to] do his will, he shall know of the doctrine [teaching], whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself” (John 7:17). Thus, the willingness, to do the will of God brings light upon the direction of the will of God for us in any set of circumstances.

When believers have reached this point they may pray with very great confidence. There are many prayers that we may offer to which we do not need to add the qualifying phrase, “if it be Thy will.” For example, when the Holy Spirit brings to our hearts a longing for deeper holiness of living, we may cry to God for it, expecting that He will answer. The ground of such expectation is in the Word, where we read, “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification” (1 Thessalonians 4:3). It is on this same foundation that the promise of Christ rests, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).

In the light of this, let us consider, for a moment, the reasons why so many church prayer meetings are rather empty, and why, like the members of the early church, a true answer to prayer seems almost unbelievable. It is because the gathered believers are praying aimlessly without a true sense of the majesty of God and His righteousness, and with little thought of seeing wonders worked by the all-loving and all-powerful Father. The average prayer meeting lasts for an hour. The first ten or 15 minutes are spent in singing hymns, sometimes the fruit of true praise, and sometimes mere time-fillers. How many times have we heard such an announcement as this: “Now we will sing another hymn while the late-comers are arriving.” A hymn loses all the inwardness of praise in such circumstances, and it is not astonishing to see people whispering to each other, or looking around the room. Following this, the leader fills up a few more minutes with an introductory prayer, thanking God for the privilege of coming together to praise Him and asking Him to be with them that there might be true praise and a real sense of His presence among them. Then another hymn, perhaps, and then the announcements, and finally, the suggestion that prayer requests be presented. For a few minutes there are various suggestions—the name of the sick of the congregation are brought to mind, the missionaries, the various needs of the church, perhaps a request for the salvation of some loved one, and at last, comes the time to pray. The deacon with the longest memory usually starts and goes over the list of things that have been mentioned. Then another prayer will be offered for some of the things that have been omitted. A few more prayers, generally more and more brief, and by now, most of the praying men and women have spoken. Then comes a long silence, and finally the voice of the leader in the closing prayer. Then, for there are still some 20 minutes left, the hour is filled up by a sermonette, sometimes called Bible study. The hour draws to a close, a final hymn is sung, and the benediction is pronounced.

Believe me, this description has been given, not with any sense of irony, and certainly with no sense of criticism, but with a deep sense of grief that so many of the Lord’s people miss so much of the blessing that He is so eager to give. Too many believers are existing on ground meat which they did not mix themselves, and whose ingredients they often ignore, instead of having the finest cuts of the meat prepared as only God can feed us.

Let me suggest a program for an alternative meeting. Let the believers gather together and spend two minutes suggesting subjects of praise. Then sing a stirring hymn of praise. Then let someone mention some of the glories of the Lord Jesus Christ, and follow this with a hymn that exalts the wonders of His being and His work.

Following this, assign each person five chapters — different chapters — to read rapidly, silently, for one purpose, namely to discover some expression that shows what the will of the Lord is. When these chapters have been read, and the findings summarized on the blackboard, then spend 20 minutes in prayer for the things that have been found, and let not the words, “if it be Thy will,” be spoken even once. Let there be the tone of triumph that goes with the certain knowledge that a check is being presented that must be cashed because the bank has acknowledged that it is a certified check, and that you have been fully identified. Above all, eliminate such prayers as those faithless clichés, “We ask Thy presence with us tonight;” or, “Wilt Thou, in grace, be with us in this hour.” To pray such a prayer is like asking the host who had provided all the ingredients for a Christmas dinner, and who had set the table, and who had taken his place at the head of the board, if he would please come to dinner with the guests. He is already there. He has planned it for the sake of the larger fellowship.

How wonderful to begin a meeting of believers with the triumphant cry, “Thou art here, dear Heavenly Father! Thou art here, blessed Lord Jesus! Thou art here, Spirit of truth to guide us!” There are no ifsandsbuts, or maybes. There is the acknowledgment of a divinely revealed fact. “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I” (Matthew 18:20). And remember He is not there because there is any place on this earth that is a sanctuary. Men call buildings churches, but in the beginning it was not so. The church is the group of believers, and it was others who began to call the buildings they ultimately began to meet in by the name of the believers who gathered there. The Lord is in a meeting because one believer, whose body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, walks into the presence of another believer on an arrangement to be gathered together in the name of the Lord. In the moment of their meeting, the Holy Spirit Who dwells in each believer, comes in the added power of the presence of Christ to give joy and blessing.

Prayer meetings that are ordered on these divine principles cannot fail to attract those who know the Lord in reality, and who are free to join with other believers at the time and place of the gathering.

In all such meetings there should be a portion of the time spent in praying for those things for which there is no clear light as to the will of God. It is God’s will to be with you in presence and in power; it is God’s will to make you holy; it is God’s will to forgive you from all sins that are confessed; it is God’s will to bless the going forth of His word to condemn or to save; it is God’s will to bless His people, to conform us to Christ, to teach us His will, and to bring us on in growth, performing His work in us unto the day of Jesus Christ. But we may have a portion of the meeting where we proceed very slowly. One man is sick. We certainly may not ask God with positiveness to raise the man up, for it may be the will of the Lord to take that one to Heaven. To such a prayer we must add, “if it be Thy will.” We may not ask God to protect us from accident, or loss, or disaster, for it may be His will to bring us into these things in order that we may learn that “in” all these things we are more than conquerors.

As time goes by we grow in spiritual life. At the outset of our experiences with Him we may pray ignorantly. The Heavenly Father will not look at us askance because of this. Sometimes — yes, many times—He answers us even when we ask ignorantly. He loves us more than we love our children.

One of my sons once wrote me two letters from college, both asking me for 50 dollars. The letters came about six weeks apart. One of them was several pages long and asked for the money with great details as to how it would be spent. It was hedged about with arguments to make the request plausible. In spite of this he did not get the money. The second letter was about seven lines long, but he got the money by return mail.

The first letter began by telling me that he was on the dean’s list. The second paragraph spoke of his friends. They, too, were honor roll students. He was laying the ground work for his request, and he was doing it by telling of his own attainments and by reminding me that he was a companion of good men. The letter then outlined the plan of the request; they were to leave Boston by car and drive out to Ohio, missing only their Friday and Saturday classes, and attend a social function in honor of the sister of one of the young men. My son’s part of the expenses would be about $50.00, including flowers, entertainment, and travel. The letter closed with the equivalent of a request — if it be thy will, dear earthly father — for 50 dollars. He did not get the 50 dollars.

A few weeks later there came a terse note: “Dear Daddy: There was an accident today in the chemistry lab, and another fellow broke a beaker of acid that spilled on my clothes. It burned a big hole in my coat and another hole about four by five inches across in my trousers. I have ordered another suit and must have 50 dollars at once. Your loving son, David.” He got the money by return mail. It was according to my will to send him that money. I am his father, and one of the obligations of parenthood is that a son be kept in pants.

None of this should cause us to think that we should go slowly in approaching our heavenly Father with our requests. “We know not how to pray as we ought,” but we are coming to our Father. In all matters where we know His will, we come with gladness and holy boldness. Wherever there is doubt we must tell Him that we are asking and not insisting, for we want nothing other than His will. He will never be angry with us, and He will always be patient with us. He is our Father. He loves us.

1. “My God, How Wonderful Thou Art.” Words: Frederick W. Faber. Jesus and Mary, 1849. Music: Azmon, Carl G. Glaser, 1828; arranged by Lowell Mason, Modern Psalmist

To finish reading “Prayer: What, Why, and How” please click here to receive the complete booklet.

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It’s Time to Throw Away Your Prayer Formulas and Rules.

woman praying
I have been learning about, teaching about and writing about a praying life for several decades now. It is the grid through which I view life. It has been so transformative for me that I have spent all my adult life sharing the concept with others.
I still remember when the phrase came to me and recalibrated everything in my understanding—not “have a prayer life,” but “live a praying life.” I was a student at Baylor University and wrestling with understanding prayer. I was finding formulas and prayer rules, but those approaches satisfied neither my heart nor mind, and they didn’t hold up to the test of reality. They didn’t work. I wanted to know what makes prayer work.
I replaced the thought of saying prayers—sandwiching words between “Dear God” and “Amen”—with the awareness of being in the flow of His power and provision. I expanded my definition of prayer so that it includes the continual interaction between the material and the spiritual realm—sometimes articulated, but often simply an inarticulate flow between His heart and mine.
This concept of living a praying life relieved me of the anxiety of getting prayer right so that God would do what I thought He should do when I thought He should do it and how I thought He should do it. Not only did I expand my definition of prayer, but I also expanded my definition of yes. Rather than frontloading prayer with my expectations, I learned to leave it open to more than I could ask or imagine.
I learned that God rarely works within the confines of my narrowly drawn parameters. His yes most often shows up outside my construct—bigger than my best idea. If I have my focus on the best thing I can think up, I miss the better thing He has in mind.
A praying life, then, is flowing continually. Prayer is an ongoing pursuit. Rather than starting stopping or picking up where you left off, it just moves from one level to another in your multitasking mind. Yet this praying life is undergirded and nourished by daily times of concentrated prayer.
The Prayer Teacher
Prayer is a work that has its beginning and its effect in the spiritual realm. Those effects are manifested in the material realm. James states that prayer has effect and produces results (James 5:16). Though the effects play out in the circumstances of earth, they have their substance in the spiritual realm. A praying life is a life lived on earth in the power of heaven.
The earthly life of Jesus demonstrates this paradox. The Son of Man lived every moment in the power from on high. He lived a praying life. He alone can teach us to pray, and He alone can reproduce His praying life in us.

Jennifer Kennedy Dean is executive director of the Praying Life Foundation and a respected author and speaker. She is the author of numerous books, studies and magazine articles specializing in prayer and spiritual formation. Visit her website for more information about her ministry. 

Power of Prayer Trumps Spiritual Formulas.


© istockphoto/Imagesbybarbara; shansekala

In a recent interview for our daughters’ new school, I was asked some personal, thought-provoking questions about my walk with God. My answers surprised the interviewer a little: “I didn’t grow up in a home that served God,” he said, “so I am fascinated by those who did. I always just assumed their lives were easy and somewhat perfect.”

I am so thankful that not only did I grow up in a home that served God, but that my parents devoted their lives to helping others serve Him as well. However, those of us who grew up in the ministry or who are raising children in it know it’s far from easy or perfect.

I love my dad for many reasons, but I adore the fact that when I was asked to write this article, he said, “Share what you need to share to help other ministers and their families.”

So as the daughter of a pastor, I want to offer a few thought-provoking questions based on insights I’ve discovered in hindsight to help you in your family relationships. If you’re dealing with any regrets, I hope you’ll find healing and even keys to restoring those relationships.

1) Are your kids secure in their identity as children of GodMy parents did many things right. I cherish the fact my dad always adhered to his statement: “I would raise you the same if I were a minister or an appliance salesman.” I don’t ever remember feeling pressure to behave a certain way because of his profession. Children of ministers or high-profile parents need to know the church isn’t where their security lies, but rather in being a child of God.

2) Does your family feel neglected most of the time? It’s so easy to start down that slippery slope and believe ministers have a get-out-of-jail-free card with their families because of the work they’re doing for the kingdom. Growing up, this was probably my biggest issue with my dad. I needed more quality time with him. He was often gone in the evenings and on weekends, and when he did get home he was exhausted. As an adult, I’ve shared with him that I felt his job in ministry came before us. He knows his actions make it very difficult to argue with me. His heart was in the right place.

3) Do you know how to be real with your family? Many people are turning away from the faith, including those raised in the church. I believe this stems from a feeling of hypocrisy as we watch our leaders say one thing and do another. Our families keep us grounded; they see us at our worst. Your congregants and supporters, on the other hand, can often make you feel great about yourself. Sometimes it’s easier to be with them than with those who call you out from time to time. Not only does your family need you desperately, but you need them.

4) Are you praying for your family? Not long after I got married, I received a prophecy: “The prayers your dad prayed for you will liberate you. Your dad and you won’t always see eye to eye, but his prayers for you have been powerful.” Growing up, my dad and I had few disagreements. However, during a devastating season in our family, our relationship began to crumble. Underlying issues and pressures grew to a level our family could no longer contain or ignore. I’m so thankful for the breakthrough and healing that’s taking place in our family by getting real and getting help when needed.

Unfortunately, I’ve seen too many families who don’t have this happy ending. I don’t believe in spiritual formulas, but I do believe in the power of prayer. Trust in prayer over the power of your platform. We will all make mistakes as parents, regardless of our profession. Trust the Holy Spirit’s direction, and speak to our Savior often about your family.

Written by Julie Albracht

Julie Evans Albracht is the daughter of Jimmy and Karen Evans. She is a consultant to ministers and their families, a writer and an interior designer. She and her husband, Cory, have been married for 17 years and have twin 11-year-old daughters. 

Is it Okay to Pray, “If it Be Your Will, Lord?”.

Question: Is it Okay to Pray, “If it Be Your Will, Lord?”

A reader, Lynda writes:

A great Christian friend advised me that it is never okay to say, “If it be your will, Lord,” when praying. Do you have any insight on that comment with Bible verses to back it up? I truly do not see the harm, because I know that God will answer prayer based on his will for our lives. Sometimes the prayers that are not answered the way we would like, end up being the most life-changing, especially when we look back on our lives. Please help me understand.


Is it Okay to Pray, “If it Be Your Will, Lord?”

Even Jesus prayed to the Father, “Your will be done,” in the Lord’s prayer:

This verse in Matthew 26 again shows Jesus praying in a similar way:Matthew 26:39 
He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”

(NLT)Some churches teach that God will only hear and answer our prayers if we pray with confidence and complete faith, according to his will. They base this teaching on the following verses of Scripture:1 John 5:14-15

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.

(NIV)Matthew 21:21-22 
Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” (NIV)

Yes, the Bible teaches us to pray specifically and without doubting when we know God’s will. What the above verses don’t say is that God only hears our prayers when we pray specifically, knowing his will. What they do reveal is that God won’t answer prayer contrary to his will. So, if you are praying for God to make you wealthy so you can give more money to missions, but he knows you will end up falling into temptationand sin as a result of that wealth, he may not grant your request.

How Should We Pray?

The problem of unanswered prayer is not God’s fault, nor is it due to our imperfect prayer techniques. The problem could be that we are asking for the wrong things, or not praying according to God’s will. The problem may simply be that we don’t know God’s will.In many instances, God’s will is clearly revealed to us. The more we know Scripture, the more we can be sure of God’s will when we pray. But the fact remains, we are human, imperfect, weak. We won’t always know God’s will. His infinite thoughts, ways, plans and purposes can’t always be understood by our finite, limited minds.

So, when we don’t know God’ will, there is nothing wrong with praying, “If it be your will, Lord.” Prayer is not about phrasing everything perfectly, or using the correct formula in the exact right way. Prayer is about communicating with God from our hearts, in an honest, loving relationship. Sometimes we get too concerned about technique and forget that God knows our hearts and understands our human imperfections.

We even have this promise of help from the Holy Spirit when we don’t know how to pray in Romans 8:26, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” (NIV)

It shows humility and trust in God to admit we don’t understand his perfect will. So, I often pray, “Lord, this is what my heart desires, but what I truly want is your will in this situation.” Other times I pray, “Lord, I am not certain of your will, but I trust you will do what is best.”

By , Guide

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