Concerning prayer, Charles Spurgeon said, “Fall back upon the intercessory power of Christ in every time of need, and you will find comfort that will never fail you.” Prayer is one of the greatest tools in the Christian’s spiritual tool box. Through it, we appropriate the perspective, presence, and power of God into our lives. It’s no wonder the Bible encourages us to “come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). Why is it that we often neglect prayer? I believe part of the problem lies with ignorance. If we don’t know how, we won’t pray. Consider four secrets that will help.
Privacy and solitude is key. If you don’t get alone, you will probably have a hard time praying. Distractions will distract, and interruptions will interrupt. This is why Jesus purposely escaped to isolated locations. Mark 1:35 says, “He got up, went out, and made His way to a deserted place, And He was praying there.” Jesus had to get alone. The previous day “the whole town” of Capernaum rushed upon the house of Peter’s mother-in-law to see Him. In order to have meaningful one-on-one time with the Heavenly Father, He had to unplug from the hustle and bustle of daily life. If our Lord had such need, you are certainly no exception. Find time to get alone with God each day.
It’s helpful if your prayer escape is a comfortable place. As much as you are able, make it an enjoyable, relaxing atmosphere. You don’t want inconveniences or annoyances to distract your devotion. Sure there will be exceptions — times when you can’t control the comfort level. I’m sure that the Philippian jail house didn’t present the most hospitable conditions for personal worship, but Paul and Silas prayed anyway (Acts 16:25). Spiritual giants like Paul Bunyan and Watchman Nee were undoubtedly uncomfortable in prison, but they persevered. There will always be challenges, but believers should aim to develop a comfortable place for intercession. Some cherish a special closet, chair, or room. The prophet Daniel is an example in this regard. He had a private prayer loft on the top of his house. Many believe the location provided him with a cool breeze in the Babylonian heat (Daniel 6:10).
After observing Jesus pray, His disciples once asked “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1). The Lord gladly obliged their request, providing a lesson on prayer. His model contained an outline or pattern for prayer (Luke 11:2-4). It shows that effective prayers are organized prayers. Though there are certainly times in which we might pour out our hearts to the Lord in a spontaneous and unorganized fashion, there is great benefit in making our prayers systematic and structured. By using Jesus’ outline, or any other outline, we can keep our prayer times focused and on task. I remember being taught the acronym “A.C.T.S.” at a young age. It stands for adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication. You don’t have to use that outline, but you will benefit from using something similar. Organize your prayers, and you will experience the power of prayer.
Dr. Patrick Latham