“Eight Keys to Prayer”, by Marilee Pierce Dunker, Ambassador for World Vision (The Holy Trinity, God’s Will, Gratitude)

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But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.—Luke 5:16, AMP

Prayer is one of the most powerful weapons God has given us, and looking ahead at 2020, I believe it has never been more important for God’s people to be on our knees. But knowing how to pray is not always easy. Jesus’ disciples felt the same confusion. They were familiar with the oft-repeated prayers of the Torah. But Jesus prayed with a kind of authority and power they had never seen before — as though God was listening! So when they came to Jesus, as told in Matthew 6, they didn’t say, “Teach us another prayer.” They said, “Lord, teach us to pray.”

The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) is Christ’s response. It is a beautiful prayer and one that every Christian should hide in their heart — I challenged my granddaughter to memorize it. But elegant as the words are, I do not believe Jesus intended it to become another ritualistic prayer. Rather, it was to be an example of how to pray.

This, then, is how you should pray:
‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.’

Here are eight keys that have helped me develop a more powerful and effective prayer life. I hope they will encourage you to make 2020 a year of prayer.

1. Know to whom you are speaking.

Prayer is a conversation with God, and every conversation begins by addressing the person to whom you are speaking by name. Jesus begins with “Our Father in heaven.” He focuses on a distinct person — the Heavenly Father with whom he has a personal relationship. We share the same right to call God “Father,” and there are times when we need to talk with our Abba Father, Daddy God. But God is three distinct persons in One: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

I find it helpful in my prayer times to focus on which of the Holy Trinity I need to talk to. Often I talk to Jesus, the friend who is closer than a brother and the Savior of my soul. Other times I cry out to the Holy Spirit, who fills and empowers me to do the tasks Father God has called me to do. Having a distinct sense of who I am speaking to helps me formulate what I want to say and how I want to say it.

2. Thank him.

A heartfelt thank you is always a great conversation starter. Like any parent, God loves to see that we have grateful hearts. But more importantly, as we take the time to praise God for all He has done in the past — the answered prayers, the impossible situations overcome, the healings and grace — our faith to believe for even greater answers to prayer grows stronger and more confident. Praise opens the gates of heaven and should always be part of our alone time with God.

3. Ask for God’s will.

The Lord’s Prayer is not the only place where Jesus role-modeled a heart of obedience and submission to the will of God over his own desires and needs. In the Garden of Gethsemane, only hours before Jesus’ crucifixion, he would once again pray, “not my will, but yours be done.” In a world where right and wrong are frequently confused and the future is so uncertain, it can be hard to know how to pray or what to ask for when difficult circumstances arise. But the one thing we can know with absolute certainty is that God’s plan for those who love him is good, and the safest place we can be is in the center of his divine will.

4. Say what you need.

In Jesus’ time, bread was a staple — one of the most basic needs of life — and he did not hesitate to ask God to provide it. But we often hesitate to bother God with the little things we need, thinking he shouldn’t be bothered. And when the big problems come, we try everything we can to solve the problem before we think to pray. The Bible says, “You do not have because you do not ask God.” So never hesitate to ask God for what you need in 2020. Your Father in heaven delights to give you good gifts.

5. Ask for forgiveness.

James 5:16 reminds us that if we want our prayers to be heard, our hearts need to be right with God and with one another. If you feel your prayers are bouncing off the ceiling, take some time to check your heart.

6. Pray with a friend.

There is power in agreement when we pray in Jesus’ name.  When I have an urgent need to take before the throne of God, I will often call a friend to pray with me.  If you don’t already have one, make finding a trusted prayer partner one of your goals in 2020.

7. Pray the Word.

My mother was a spiritual prayer warrior, and much that I know about prayer I learned from her. I loved to listen to her pray because for every need or situation, she would claim a scripture of promise. “The Word of God has power and is our great spiritual weapon,” Mama would say. “Pray the Word, Marilee. Pray the Word.”

Jesus did the same when he was tempted by Satan in the wilderness (see Luke 4:1-12). He was the Son of God, but he did not use his divine authority. Instead, he used the authority of the Scriptures.

8. Memorize Scripture.

The most important key to a vibrant prayer life is to understand our spiritual authority in Christ as explained in the Scriptures. The only way to do that is to become intimately familiar with the Bible. Even a few minutes a day in the Word of God will add strength and authority to your prayers in 2020.

WRITTEN BY:

Marilee Pierce Dunker travels the world as an ambassador for World Vision, the organization her father, Bob Pierce, founded in 1950. Like he did, she shares stories, pictures, and personal reflections, bearing witness to the extraordinary ways God is using his people to share the gospel and care for the poor.

“Prayer; Gathering to Breathe God”, from L.Willows (Quotes on Prayer, no boundaries, Loving God)

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Yesterday I joined a weekly group in prayer. Even though it was remote via zoom, the experience was powerful. Within moments I sensed the motioning of God’s Spirit. My heart was stirred by the Holiness of His Presence amongst us. Prayer is vital not only for each of us personally but in gathering together in the name of Jesus Christ.

We need to lift our hearts to the Lord during these times. Our journeys are each different but we have the same need in seeking Him in prayer. If you find yourself separated by boundaries of isolation or circumstances, I pray that you will be able to connect with others. We can pray by phone, pray with the family,  teach friends how to pray, and most of all, ask God for friends to pray with – He will not disappoint you.

I believe that we need to gather together (even in an intangible way) and worship God when we pray. When we gaze at the beauty and majesty of the Lord, our hearts melt. We soften and become His; ready to meet with Him. The hardened parts that have battled the day or denied Him even for a moment, come forward and bend towards the Light of His Love. There, we begin Prayer. All of this, for the sweetness of gathering before God. I am so grateful that the Holy Spirit has no boundaries in this world and that Jesus Christ faces us wherever we are.

Because of the joy and encouragement, that prayer gives to me, I wanted to share some quotes that I found with you:

St. Augustine – Do you wish to pray in the temple? Pray in your own heart. But begin by being God’s temple, for he will listen to those who invoke him in his temple.

E.M. Bounds – Prayer is a wonderful, powerful; tool placed by Almighty God in the hands of His saints, which may be used to accomplish great purposes and to achieve unusual results. Prayer reaches to everything, takes in all things great and small which are promised by God to men. The only limits to prayer are the promises of God and his ability to fulfill those promises.

E. M. Bounds – Prayer is God’s life-giving breathe. God’s purposes move along the pathway made by prayer to their glorious designs. God’s purposes are always moving to their high and beneficial ends, but the movement is along the way marked by unceasing prayer. The breathe of prayer is from God.

E. M. Bounds -God shapes the world by prayer. The more praying there is in the world the better the world will be, the mightier the forces against evil.

John Bunyan – When you pray, rather let your heart be without words than words without heart.

Chrysostom, Saint Joan -Prayer is…a treasure undiminished, a mine never exhausted, a sky unobstructed by clouds, a haven unruffled by storm. It is the root, the fountain, ands the mother of a thousand blessings.

Billy Graham – Prayer is the rope that pulls God and man together. But it doesn’t pull God down to us: It pulls us up to him.

O. Hallesby -Prayer is so rich and so mobile that all we have to do when we pray is point to the persons of things to which we desire to have this power applied, and He, the Lord of this power, will direct the necessary power to the desired place at once.

O. Hallesby – To pray is nothing more involved than to open the door, giving Jesus access to our needs and permitting him to exercise his own power in dealing with them.

C. S. Lewis -Simply to say prayers is not to pray; otherwise a team of properly trained parrots would serve as well as men in prayer.

C. S. Lewis – It is quite useless knocking on the door of heaven for earthly comfort; it’s not the sort of comfort they supply there.

Martin Lloyd Jones – Everything we do in the Christian life is easier than prayer.

Martin Luther – To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.

Thomas Merton – And when God reveals himself to us in contemplation we must accept him as He comes to us, in His own obscurity, in His own silence, not interrupting Him with arguments or words, concentrations or activities that belong to the level of our own tedious and labored existence.

F. B. Meyer – The great tragedy of life is not unanswered prayer but unoffered prayer.

George Mueller – When once I am persuaded that a thing is right, I go on praying for it till the end comes. I never give up till the answer comes. The great fault of the children of God is that they do not continue in prayer. They do not persevere. If they desire anything for God’s glory, they should pray until they get it.”

Charles Spurgeon – Because God is the living God, he can hear; because he is a loving God, he will hear; because he is our covenant God, he had bound himself to hear.

Charles Spurgeon – Prayer is the slender nerve that moves the muscle of omnipotence.

Charles Spurgeon – On his knees, the believer is invincible.

Mother Teresa -Prayer enlarges the heart until it is capable of containing God’s gift of himself. Ask and seek, and your heart will grow big enough to receive him and keep him as your own.

Saint Teresa of Avila – Prayer doesn’t consist of thinking a great deal, but of loving a great deal.

John Vianney – The interior life is like a sea of love in which the soul is plunged and ism, and is, as it were, drowned in love. Just as a mother holds her child’s face in her hands to cover it with kisses, so does God hold the devout man.

© 2020 Linda Willows

“Breathing Hope’s Gratitude”, from L.Willows (Prayer, Hope, Burdens to the Lord)

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I walked back and forth in a seemingly short space that was allowable on that day during the pandemic. Breathing much of my own breath through the face-covering created an awareness of the boundaries between myself and what was “outside” of me. Honestly, I did not like the environment. I longed to be in a beautiful garden- to see what I remembered from years past, most especially, to be reunited with friends and family. I longed for what I loved but could not see and to be where I could not be.  I wanted to embrace life again.

Quickly, I realized that sorrow was filling up my heart and my airspace. The longings had no place to go. Then I remembered that they did. Everything that was on my heart always had a place to go.

Everything on our hearts can always be told, given and healed by the Lord Jesus.  I had been bringing my heart to God in prayer for many years. So I walked and I prayed.

As I gazed before me, I no longer saw the long hallway. I acknowledged that everything in this world and in the eternal was made by God – that all that came into my own view was by His will and in His timing.

I began to praise Him for the goodness and for all of the beauty that was everywhere both in my life and for what came to my heart. Many steps later my heart was lifted. In an intimate discourse with the most loving Lord, I brought all of my burdens.  I asked for help and was needful in supplications.

I felt thankful that God was so close and near. Hope was restored.

As I returned to my doorway I was grateful for the nest of my home. Entering, I took off the face-mask. Breathing is such a gift.

I opened the window wider and let in more fresh air. I looked outside and felt grateful.

Matthew 11:28-30Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Psalm 55:22 — Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.

Philippians 4:6-7–Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

© 2020 from Linda Willows