One of my favorite Bible verses on prayer is one which is often overlooked.  It is found in Genesis 4:26.  It says, “A son was born to Seth also, and he named him Enosh.”  The word rendered “call” implies distance.  Because men and women had been dismissed from the Garden of Eden, there was a sense of separation from God.  Since that time, people have had to “call” on the Lord in order to spend time with Him.  Most of us desire to have such interaction with our Creator, but we are often uninformed on how to have it.  Let me share four secrets that will help.

Use variety. 

When I hear some people pray, I can nearly guess what they are going to say.  Like a preprogrammed robot, some of us spit out the same Christian cliches and spiritual slogans we’ve used for years.  I assume that such praying is better than no praying; however, prayer can be so much more.  Our intercessions ought to have a sense of variety, but how can we develop it?  By following the prayer examples we have in Scripture.  The Bible is replete with an assortment of prayers.  See passages like Psalm 51, 61, 69, 131; Daniel 2:20-23; Matthew 6:9-13; and Colossians 1:9-14 for examples of the different types of prayers you can make.

Respond to prayer prompts. 

Throughout the day, we are all bombarded with a infinitude of thoughts and emotions.  Some are good, some are bad, and others are neutral.  A secret of spiritual living is learning how to turn our thoughts towards the Lord.  I like to refer to this as responding to prayer prompts.  The Psalmist said, “When I am afraid, I will trust in You” (Psalm 56:3).  You can replace the word “afraid” with any word you like.  Whenever you face any sort of situation or struggle, use it as a prayer reminder — a prompt to pray.

Pour out your heart. 

Emotions aren’t bad.  They simply are what they are, but they can become bad, if we don’t regulate them appropriately.  I once heard a Christian counselor talk about how we must both “feel and deal” with emotions.  Prayer is one of the best ways to do this.   Jeremiah once instructed God’s people, saying, “Pour out your heart like water before the Lord’s presence” (Lamentations 2:19).  The Psalmist said, “Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts before Him.  God is our refuge” (Psalm 62:8).  Telling God all about how you feel is a secret to strong praying.  You will experience a sense of relief and refreshment when you pour out your heart to Him.  Start this practice and you will be more inclined to pray.

Be submitted to God’s will. 

In order to have our prayers answered, we must also pray according to God’s will (John 14:14).  When we pray for our own selfish desires, our prayers are sure to fail (James 4:3).  As a result, aligning our prayers with what God wants is of utmost importance.  Even Jesus had to submit to this practice (Matthew 26:39).  Paul did too (2 Corinthians 12:7-9).  You and I certainly won’t be an exception to the rule.  If we want to experience the power of prayer, we must pray according to God’s will.

Dr. Patrick Latham

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