Commit to Change the Situation through Prayer
“Now about that time Herod the king stretched out his hand
to harass some from the church. Then he killed James the brother of John
with the sword. And because he saw that it pleased the Jews,
he proceeded further to seize Peter also…
Peter was therefore kept in prison,
but constant prayer was offered
to God for him by the church.”
Acts 12:1-3, 5
We know that prayer is our most powerful weapon. We preach it. We teach it. We speak it. We sing it. We write it. Nonetheless, often it’s either the last thing done, the thing done with little duration, or the thing done not at all. What’s going on? Are we lazy? Negligent? Unbelieving?
Certainly, I know there are moments like these and people like this. This book’s intent, however, isn’t to beat up on people; so I’ll let God handle any reprimands. Rather, I want to help those who know, or possibly only have an inkling, that prayer can help their situation, yet find themselves not praying. These people aren’t lazy, negligent, or unbelieving. There’s something else going on here.
Busyness, Tiredness, and Past Prayer Failures
Can Steal Prayer Time
There have been times when I planned to pray and later got so busy doing stuff that by the time I finished, I was exhausted. I’d either press through and get on my knees and promptly fall asleep, or I’d try to outsmart my tiredness by prayer walking in my room. Often that only transformed me from a lying mummy to a walking zombie! Not a lot accomplished.
I haven’t yet figured out how to be absolutely dead tired and pray with any real energy or duration. B…u…u…t I have discovered something useful. If I really want to pray, I have to deliberately take steps now to either not be dead tired later, or change my prayer time from later to now.
What Can You Stop, Start, or Modify to Save Time?
Write or type a list of your daily activities. Which are fixed and which are not? For instance, are you married? Do you have children? What about other obligations that aren’t going anywhere? Now do the same with activities where you have more discretion. How often do you do these things? For how long? Is there anything you can stop, start, or modify that will give you more time to pray? Can you cut sixty minutes a day? Thirty? Ten?
Do you know how much more powerful you would be in prayer if you offered ten more minutes a day of intelligent prayer to your heavenly Father who is just itching to show you His mighty power? Did you know that ten minutes a day comes out to sixty hours a year? The last thing Satan wants is for you to spend sixty hours in the presence of God your Father!
Maybe this short list will give you some practical ideas of how to find time to pray. Ask yourself can you stop, start, or modify any of these activities: cooking, cleaning, talking on the phone, surfing the web, reading, watching television, shopping, eating, sleeping, visiting, working, vacationing, lawn work, hobbies, etc. Believe God for ideas. If you want to pray, He’ll help you find time.
Or perhaps your best course of action is to simply pray now rather than later. Can you pray as you drive to and from work? Driving to work is better than driving from work because now is always better than later. Can you go to the restroom and pray? I’ve had many, many, many awesome prayer sessions in the restroom. If you did this two or three times a day, you’d have significant breakthroughs in prayer. Can you get up earlier so you can pray? Next time you’re running an errand, can you pull over somewhere safe and cry out to God in prayer? You get the picture. Be aggressive and use your imagination. You won’t regret it!
Don’t Let Yesterday’s Prayer Failure
Stop You From Today’s Prayer Success
If we define prayer failure as praying for something specific and spectacularly not getting it, then there’s nothing like a prayer failure to discourage you from praying like that again. It’s at this point that we cut back on praying. Or we may do the downward adjustment thing and only pray in safe, general terms. Nothing too specific. Nothing that will by its failure to come or refusal to go can embarrass us or damage our faith any more than it’s already damaged.
But in what field or industry do we find successful people who haven’t had to deal with setbacks, disappointments, and failures? As part of your quest toward regular answered prayers, and even spectacular prayer answers, you must learn to get off the mat and stand on your feet again. Okay, so you prayed for something and things didn’t turn out the way you hoped they would. Join the club. We’ve all been there. This changes nothing about the power, influence, and creativity of God to answer your next prayer.
The story in our opening Scriptures tell of a church crisis that was conquered through prayer. The apostle James was unjustly put in prison for his faith in Christ. I have to believe the church prayed for him. We’re talking eleven other apostles and thousands of converts in an on fire church. It would be a real stretch to assume they didn’t pray. And if they didn’t, James probably did. Wouldn’t you? Nonetheless, James was executed! This is big time prayer failure.
Next, King Herod put Peter in prison for the same purpose. “But constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church.” God sent His angel and delivered Peter. That’s way beyond awesome. But here’s what’s also awesome. The church had just experienced a spectacular prayer failure. They had every reason in the world to throw in the prayer towel and say, “We prayed for James and his head is rolling down the street like a bowling ball. This stuff doesn’t work. I’m going back to praying for empty parking spaces at the mall.”
Instead, they refused to focus on their shock, grief, and unanswered questions. They focused instead on the unchanging character of God, and on His power, influence, and creativity to answer prayers. Son or daughter of God, you may have suffered devastating prayer failures, but God is still on the throne and Satan is still defeated. You don’t need to have every question answered before you get back in the win column.
What you do need is what the early church had. They trusted in God’s faithfulness and radically rearranged their schedules to offer prayer sufficient to meet the newest crisis. Let yesterday’s failure drive you to even greater levels of prayer!
Lesson One. I can ask God to help me examine my daily activities for areas I can start, stop, or modify things that will give me more time to pray. Even ten more minutes a day is sixty hours a year in the presence of God!
Lesson Two. Yesterday’s spectacular prayer failure doesn’t mean there aren’t many spectacular prayer answers in my future!
Pray, “Lord, what can I start, stop, or modify that will give me more time to pray.” Now with your eyes closed, wait before the Lord for a little while. Write down the thoughts that come.
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