Devote Yourself to Prayer

Scripture to Memorize She brings him good, not harm,  all the days of her life. She selects wool and flax  and works with eager hands. Proverbs 31:12–13 Passage to Read And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. James 5:15–17 Guided Prayer Dear Lord, I confess this morning that my prayers are not always offered in faith. They are too often offered as a last resort, clouded by doubt and unbelief. I’ve become so conditioned to the mindset of this world that my first response to sickness (or any other difficulty) is a man-made solution. Thank you for promising to hear our prayers and raise up those who are sick. This morning I bring before your holy presence all who battle various sickness and disease. Send your healing in our day, just as you did when Jesus and the first disciples walked the earth. I confess my sins so that nothing will hinder my prayers today. Forgive me, Lord, especially for my tendency to ___________. Holy Spirit, show me someone I can trust to confess my sins to so that I might be healed, someone who can hold me accountable and challenge me to become more than I am. Thank you for the blessed assurance that the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. I stand on the righteousness of Christ. It is through his sacrifice that I have the right to ask and believe that I will receive answers when I pray. What a blessing that we have Elijah as an example! It’s so tempting to think, He was a super-prophet! No wonder his prayers were powerful and effective, but I’m no Elijah! You’ve made it a point in your Word to remind us that Elijah was just like us. If prayers are powerful enough to heal the sick and control the rain, there’s nothing prayer cannot accomplish. Holy Spirit, cleanse me of all unrighteousness so that, with Christ’s righteousness on me, I can pray with great power and effectiveness. Amen. Personal The Proverbs 31 woman worked with eager hands, but I believe she also understood that some work can only be accomplished on our knees. It’s been aptly said, “When we work, we work. But when we pray, God works.” A discerning woman knows when to cease from human labors and fold her eager hands in prayer. The great revival preacher Leonard Ravenhill accurately proclaimed: “No Christian is greater than his prayer life.” We often hear teaching on the importance of tithing our money. Let me suggest that you seriously consider tithing your time in prayer. You can do the quick math: that’s about two and a half hours per day. Before you toss this book across the room, stop and think for a minute. How many hours a day do you breathe? When praying becomes as natural as breathing, you’ll soon discover you can pray without ceasing. Prayer is not just something we do. Prayer is a mindset, an attitude, an atmosphere we create. As we learn to cultivate the presence of God, walking moment by moment with a conscious awareness that we have a friend who sticks closer than a brother, a counselor who is always near, a teacher who is always speaking, then every waking hour becomes a prayer. Paul admonished us: “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful” (Col. 4:2). It begins with what saints in former times called the morning watch. We begin our day watching for God, asking him what his priorities for the day are. Then we continue watching, with an attitude of gratitude, for the opportunities he has prepared in advance for us. Watch and pray throughout the day and you’ll find you have plenty to be thankful for. Be especially alert to what I call God-prompted prayer—those prayer requests that obviously come directly from God’s heart to ours. Think about promptings that come in the middle of the night or out of nowhere. Think about promptings to pray for things we weren’t even thinking about. Those are the prayers that often get the most dramatic and immediate results. But we will miss them if we are not watching. Recently my friend Carla shared an experience she had with prompted prayer. Her daughter had broken her arm and was returning to the doctor for a one-week follow-up visit. God prompted Carla to pray that the arm would be completely healed and the cast removed that very day, even though the emergency room doctor had projected many weeks of recovery. Her adolescent son, who is struggling with his faith, was sitting in the backseat of the car as Carla prayed aloud over her daughter before entering the doctor’s office. “That’s so ridiculous, Mom,” he said contemptuously. “You know that’s not going to happen.” Carla continued praying, “Lord, I ask you to do this to show my son just how real and powerful you are.” After X-rays to determine how well the bone was setting, a doctor (not the one they had seen at the emergency room) came in and began cutting off the cast, asking casually how many weeks it had been in place. When her daughter replied, “Six days,” the doctor said there must be some mistake. But he reexamined both sets of X-rays and declared it a miracle! Her arm was perfectly sound. To prove it, she even did a handstand! The purpose of prayer is to bring heaven’s power to bear on earth’s circumstances. We can literally invite heaven to invade earth, declaring to God the Father: “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Then prayer becomes the bridge that links heaven and earth. But we must listen to those promptings. Two weeks ago, I emailed a woman I hadn’t seen in nearly a decade, telling her the Lord had laid it strongly on my heart that her mother needed prayer for her health. The woman did not acknowledge my email, but I just found out this morning that her mother had a heart attack yesterday. Would more focused prayer have averted the heart attack? Only God knows for sure. As you spend time in prayer, each morning and throughout the day, take time to listen. If you have your notebook handy, write down what you sense God is saying and focus your prayer effort accordingly. Too many of us have a one-sided approach to prayer. Our total focus is on what we want to say to God. Let your prayers become a two-way conversation and see what a difference it makes. Prayer can be the ultimate adventure. Or it can be nothing more than a glorified gripe session. The second approach will do you no earthly good; the first will bring down the power of God. Which do you prefer? Ask the Holy Spirit to teach you how to be prayerful, watchful, and thankful. You’ll be amazed what a difference it makes in your life—and what a difference you begin to make in the lives of others. God will use a woman of prayer to bring about much good in the world all the days of her life. Affirmation: I devote myself to prayer, being watchful and thankful. Practical Begin today with an attitude of prayer and watchfulness. Then carry that with you throughout the day: being prayerful, watchful, and thankful. Notebook: Create a prayer page in the tag section of your Personal Notebook. Note prayer requests that people share with you. More important, note those things God lays on your heart.