Prayer Strategy: Addressing the War Within.
“Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?” – Corrie ten Boom
Today in The Dugout:
I’m a Christian but my prayer life sucks! I have to be honest, this idea of talking to God has never been my thing. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I don’t want to pray, it’s just that other things come up, you know? More important things. At this exact moment, for instance, I hear my son in the next room asking for milk, pancakes, and juice. What am I supposed to do? Stay in my “war room”, spending time with God while my son is crying out? Ha! Not going to happen. My son needs me. How can I ignore his face, let alone his voice?
This is my problem since I could utter the words, “Our Father, who art in Heaven.” When I think about it, I blame this method for my inconsistent prayer life. With my hands folded, eyes closed and head bowed, prayer was always taught to me as a habit I should form in two places: before I go to sleep and before I eat. Furthermore, I was taught that “Good Christians Pray”. This is the speech I would hear from every Sunday school teacher and camp leader. This logic however never made sense to me. Whether I was good or not, I believed that God’s desired outcome would not only come to the past but in no way needed my feeble words or plea to jumpstart His will.
Hear me, having a prayer life was optional, until now. We all need prayer but what is prayer without a strategy? Today, I will cover the 1st Inning of this strategy: Position.
Ephesians 6:10 10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.
1st Base: Position: Be alert in your own experience.
There’s a famous quote from the movie Unusual Suspects where one character mentions the greatest scheme played by the devil is convincing the world that he does not exist. Intriguing as it is, I however believe the greatest scheme played by the devil is not one that makes you question his presence but rather one that suggests that his presence wants peace in the time of war. Have you allowed yourself to get comfortable when you should be alert?
Understand that as Christians, you are constantly in a state of emergency. Three of the disciples teach us a valuable lesson in Matthew 26:40. There, in the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter and company are found sleeping when they should be preparing. Are you allowing yourself to doze off on the battlefield?
Oftentimes, in your own experience, you get comfortable in the place where your spirit is fighting the most.
Jesus one instruction to the disciples is, “Watch and Pray.”
If you want to have an effective prayer strategy, it starts first with locating where you are, not the enemy. Far too often, Christians do not take their own experiences as evidence of war. The scars you gain over the years are not by happenstance. These are your war wounds, providing you proof that there is a fight over your soul. Speaking of a war room, I love the idea of having a place where you can paste sticky notes, write down scriptures, and your prayer focus for the week. This shows great intention. My only concern however is, what if you can’t get to the room fast enough?
What if while walking through the store your spirit is stirred to pray for the man in aisle three? Do you gather your things and retreat home to the place that is designated for prayer? Will the lit candle give you the words to say for the unknown battle taking place by the cereal? How often are you led to pray for someone but postpone it til later? In this sense, you must be careful judging Peter and the disciples who could not pray with Jesus for an hour. What they lacked was urgency and vigilance. I want to suggest that an effective prayer strategy does not begin with you locating the enemy, it starts with you locating yourself.
You are not at war, you are in-war. Like many prayer strategy plans, I was tempted to explore the battleground first. The fact that this world is not our home would be an easy sale to any enlisted soldier. To stir the emotions of the next brigade, the world’s issue with social injustice, sexual immorality, and the rising unbelief in Jesus Christ can seal the deal. While this harvest is plentiful, the reality is that many wounds in this war are self-inflicted. I believe that Christians do not talk enough about their self-inflicted wounds. The strategy I present today is anti blame the devil because the only fingerprints found on your lack of prayer are your own.
The Game Plan: So what are you going to do?
This week, I want you to focus on finding yourself. The first assignment in your prayer strategy is to ask yourself these three questions:
- What area in my life am I being prompted to pray for now? Before you can treat the wounds of others, you must treat your own. It is impossible to pray for someone’s healing in the same place that you too are broken.
2. What bad experiences in my life, have I not taken to God? Many Christians are dealing with nagging injuries because they are waiting on time to heal them.
- In what area of my life have I become too comfortable? It is often the place of peace that needs the most prayer.
Having an effective prayer strategy is important. The reason why Christians do not pray as often as they should however is because it has become too methodical. They are taught from a young age to pray at certain times and prompted in times of tragedy. My prayer is that life itself becomes the prompt that you need. Whether it is raining or the sun is shining, pray because you are in-war and it starts with locating yourself.
Meet me back here every Saturday morning at 9 a.m.
Transform the Game,
Richard Hemphill Jr.