Série de Prière: Intercession (Part 2)

“In prayer, real prayer, we begin to think God’s thoughts after him: to desire the things he desires, to love the things he loves, to will the things he wills. Progressively, we are taught to see things from his point of view.” – Richard Foster

Practical Steps

In my limited experience, I have learned that listening is the most important part of this kind of prayer. We must not assume we know God’s will on a matter (unless clearly defined in Scripture) because then we can twist our prayer to suit our own motives or misconceptions. Rather, before I even begin to intercede, I ask the Holy Spirit several questions about the person/situation. I ask for certain scriptures to pray, what God thinks of them/the situation, what my position is to be, etc. Then I can intercede with authority because I know I am in alignment with God’s heart.

Beyond receiving direction from the Lord on how to pray, there’s really no formula for intercession. It can be practiced as a two-word prayer, internally as you’re going about monotonous tasks, or very focused in a prayer room. It can last two seconds or several hours. The goal is not the quantity of time or amount of words — as I said before, many words encourage distractions — but instead praying in alignment with God’s will. It is when we pray God’s will that we see our prayers answered. Please know that just because you have direction from the Lord on how to pray, it does not mean He will answer right away. In my post on Luke 11, I went into depth on the importance of persistence in prayer.

Something I learned at IHOP is how important it is to pray positive prayers. All of the apostles’ prayers in the Bible are positive, praying for what would be in the churches instead of focusing on their weaknesses. (While on the subject, apostolic prayers are great tools for intercession. A list of them can be downloaded here.) It is vital to keep our focus on God in our prayers. In Luke 11, the man that needed bread didn’t pray against the lack, he went to his friend with the bread.

A couple weeks ago, a young married couple asked me to pray for them. I didn’t know what they needed prayer for, but I spent about 3 hours asking questions and interceding for them before I went to their house. After I spent only 15 minutes praying for them, I could see fresh hope in their eyes. The Lord had spoken to me and used me to encourage them — and I was just as encouraged to know that I hear from God!

Recommended Reading

Prayer by Hans Urs von Balthasar

Crafted Prayer by Graham Cooke is a 95 pages of wisdom on focused, effective prayers

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This post is a part of a series on different types of prayer. Click here to read the rest of the series.

Série de Prière: Communion

“God [is] Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:24

What is it?

I’m not here to talk about the Eucharist, though that’s a good form of communion too. The word “communion” simply means sharing something in intimate fellowship/friendship. The kind of communion I am talking about is the internal relationship we have with the Holy Spirit.

Why do it? Well firstly, it is repeated over and over that Jesus communed with the Spirit (Luke 4:1, 10:21, John 1:33, etc.). I also find it interesting how much Jesus stressed abiding with the Spirit right before He went to the cross (read John 14-16).

In my own life, I find that the more I focus on communing with the Spirit on a moment-by-moment basis, the less I sin: I make better decisions because I follow His leading and I am generally more joyful as I remember God is walking with me throughout all my circumstances.

I have posted this quote before, but I believe it sums up communing with the Holy Spirit better than I ever could:

“There is a way of ordering our mental life on more than one level at once. On one level we may be thinking, discussing, seeing, calculating, meeting all the demands of external affairs. But deep within, behind the scenes, at a profounder level, we may also be in prayer and adoration, song and worship, and a gentle receptiveness to the divine breathings.” – Thomas Kelly

Practical Steps

Jesus said the Father would give the Holy Spirit to His children if we ask (Luke 11:13). I don’t have bullet-points for this type of prayer, just suggestions.

Try to develop an awareness of the Spirit within you all the time. You may have been consumed with the natural all day and then all of the sudden remember about Him — that’s great! Talk to Him internally when that happens. If you’re stressed out, thank Him for who He is (e.g. “Thank you Holy Spirit for your peace”).

As I’ve progressed in this, I find that I can have a normal conversation with someone and be consciously adoring the Lord and as I have to make small decisions, I ask Him what I should do. Sometimes He gives me specific direction, other times I know that that it is my choice.

Recommended Reading

The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence is a small but insightful book on communing with the Lord throughout the day

Clowning in Rome by Henri Nouwen is an easy read on unceasing prayer, among other subjects

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This post is a part of a series on different types of prayer. Click here to read the rest of the series.

Série de Prière: Waiting

There’s something very special about waiting prayer. When practiced with the right motives, it can become the core of your prayer life — and a very important part at that.

What is it?

Waiting prayer is taking time to be still before the Lord. This concept is repeated over and over again in Scripture (Ps. 25:5, 25:21, 27:14, 37:7, 37:9, 39:7, 62:5, 130:5; Isa. 40:31; Lam. 3:25-26; Hos. 12:6 — to name a few). When you quiet your soul and focus on the Lord, you are expectant. You let Him love you as you worship Him and you expect that He will reveal Himself to you. If you’re not used to internal prayer, waiting prayer is a great place to start.

“Truly my soul silently waits for God; from Him comes my salvation.” Ps. 62:1

The more you wait on the Lord, the more sensitive you become to the Holy Spirit. You may feel nothing — in fact, for a while, I can almost guarantee you that you will feel nothing — but the simple act of quieting your soul before God will inevitably cause you to sense Him more.

The Bible commands us to wait on the Lord (Ps. 27:14, Hosea 12:6). It is the beginning of trust: you admit your own human weakness and look to the Lord for strength. And David tells us that, “those who wait on the Lord, they shall inherit the earth.” (Ps. 37:9)

Practical Steps

Waiting prayer can be practiced in a prayer room or in your bedroom. Just be somewhere that you’re not likely to be interrupted.

  1. Start with worshiping God — out loud or internally — and read the Word.
  2. Close your eyes and begin to clear your mind of distracting thoughts. Focus, in expectancy, on the Lord. (If you want, ask God to give you a mental picture to help you focus.)
  3. Then just wait. Don’t ask questions, try not to get distracted — just wait. Honestly, even though I’ve been doing this for 2 years, it often takes a half hour for my soul to quiet down so I can hear the Holy Spirit’s voice clearly. We get so busy during the day that it takes us a while to slow down.

Start with a few minutes at a time. If you fall asleep, just pick up where you left off; there’s no shame in that. You will soon find that you want to wait on the Lord longer and longer because His presence is so addicting.

Recommended Reading

Jaeson Ma, a campus revivalist, has posted his “Waiting Prayer” chapter from his book on his blog — it is an excellent description and includes his own personal testimony.

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This post is a part of a series on different types of prayer. Click here to read the rest of the series.

Série de Prière (Series on Prayer): Distraction

I want to get a huge factor out of the way before I continue this series on prayer: distraction.

Humans are weak — I live in a community of people who pray for a living and this issue comes up over and over again. We live such fast-paced lives (internally and externally) that when we try to sit and focus on an invisible God, we understandably get distracted by the smallest thing.

But there is hope! I’ve been in a prayer room for a minimum of 25 hours a week for the past 2 1/2 years and I have definitely progressed in the distraction area (though I’m far from conquering it).

“Our minds are so flighty. However, remember that our God-given wills govern all of our strength. We must recall our minds to God. Otherwise, our spirits may wander, dragging us down to the things of this earth. It isn’t necessary to be too verbose in prayer, because lengthy prayers encourage wandering thoughts. Simply present yourself to God…and fix your attention on His presence. If your mind wanders at times, don’t be upset, because being upset will only distract you more. Allow your will to recall your attention gently to God. Such perseverance will please Him.”

-Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God
(emphasis mine)

There are many ways to stay focused in prayer — I won’t go into them now, but be encouraged that distraction is perfectly normal and nothing to be frustrated about.

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This post is a part of a series on different types of prayer. Click here to read the rest of the series.