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The Work of Prayer

prayer works 1

Have you found as I have that when you try to pray more regularly or more often,  prayer suddenly seems like hard work?  Some people refer to this phenomenon as the “work” of prayer.
Working at prayer is not about persuading God to bless us more. His love and grace are free and freely given. 

Matthew 10:8. 

It’s also not about persuading God to communicate with us.  God is communicating all the time, not just with words but also with images, impressions, visions, dreams and so forth.  The main work of prayer is simply opening ourselves up to focus on God and tune into receiving God’s multi-faceted communications. 

Here are five types of effort you can make to help you focus more effectively to accomplish the work of prayer.

  1. Prayer work 2Make the effort to set apart time for prayer.  We are creatures of habit and establishing the “habit of prayer” calls for disrupting other habits that control us.  I am convinced that one reason many Christians struggle with making time to pray is that we have lost the meaning of the Sabbath.  The Hebrew word for Sabbath is Shabbat, which means to “cease.”  The Sabbath was designed to help us learn to cease from our own works, just as the Lord ceased working on the seventh day.  When we learn to step out of the pressure of our personal schedules to set apart (“make holy”) time for God, we often find He more than makes up for any time we feel we’ve lost. After all, we’re called to redeem the time. Eph 5:16
  2. Make the effort to surrender to God. Every act of prayer involves acknowledging God is greater than ourselves. His presence, power and authority outrank everything and everyone.  Jesus made a way for us to approach God freely and even boldly when we  simply recognize His greatness.  This is why it’s said that every prayer contains a seed of thankfulness, because we know instinctively that God holds everything we need in His hand.
  3. Make the effort to listen to God. Have you ever found yourself in a conversation where one person—maybe yourself!—does all the talking?  Not very satisfying in the end, is it?  The very definition of a “relationship” is that it’s a two-way street.  If you find yourself doing a lot of talking at God, take a break from yourself and wait to see what He does.  He might give you a vision, a dream, or speak directly to your heart.  With a little practice, you will find God likes to speak to you so you can understand Him easily.  After all, He’s good God full of grace for His children.
  4. Make the effort to receive from God. It would be silly to go to the bank to make withdrawal and never actually take the money.  It’s the same with God.  He said we have not because we ask not.  Multiple scriptures teach that God responds to our requests when they are made in faith, expecting Him to act.  This is especially true when we learn to pray in accordance with God’s purposes and will for our lives.  But don’t forget to accept what God gives you when you pray. That would be silly!  If it seems like He’s not giving you anything you feel you need, that usually means He’s looking for something to change in your heart so you He can meet an even deeper need.
  5. The greater work of praying God’s promises and purposes for our lives. Most of us pray reflexively for our own needs—our relationships, finances, peace, joy, protection, etc.  What about God’s needs?  Not that God is dependent on us to fulfill His needs, because in one sense God has no needs.  Yet He has set forth good works for us to walk in.  (Eph 2:10)  He invites us to do our part.  His burden is light, Jesus said, and His yoke is easy.  When we learn God’s word well enough to repeat God’s promises to Him, He has a delightful way of making our prayer time welcoming and even—timeless! 

 

Learn to enjoy the work of prayer and you won’t be disappointed.