In recognition of the National Day of Prayer on May 3, CAP Church Relations Director Pastor Terry Anderson has a three part blog series on the importance of praying strategically and with a purpose. This is part I.
Have you ever had a “weird” moment turn into a God-moment? I have!
Before a lunch meeting with friend, I offered to pray. He stopped me and said, “The Bible doesn’t say you have to pray before every meal. So, what is your motive for this prayer? What is your purpose for this prayer? Is it for God or for you?” I responded, “Wow, man! It’s just lunch!”
This line of questions set me on a course to learn what are the strategies and goals of my prayers. The real issue for me became “What am I intentionally praying about and why? How do I pray about what’s on God’s heart rather than mine? How can anyone pray more effectively?
Here is what have I learned:
1. The right heart for prayer
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” – 2 Chronicles 7:14
Critical characteristics of my heart should be:
- Humility. “Humble themselves” is to “consider another better than yourself.” It comes from a military idea – “to get into proper rank.” A private does not tell a general what to do or there is going to be lots of trouble. So, are we pulling rank by telling God our wants rather than pray to listen and receive from God His heart’s desires for us?
- Righteousness. “Seek my face” is to pursue that which is right, seek to be like Jesus, i.e., in holiness and character. We are to seek to be comfortable in His presence as well as in our conversation and lifestyle. How am I praying to be “Christ” to my “slice of society?”
- Repentance. We must practice repentance which means to “turn from” or to change direction. For the Christian, it is a call to turn from our wicked ways. Many people believe this nation is heading in the wrong direction. But to experience God’s blessing on our nation, we must begin with both a personal and a national prayer emphasis (National Day of Prayer, May 3rd). Don’t forget the personal. Am I repenting of my personal sin? Am I allowing my faith and speech to reflect my trust in God to “provide where He guides?” This kind of repentance is designed to return God to the center of our nation and my heart.
If you eliminated routine prayers from your day, how much would you really pray? Routine personal prayers are not to be regularly mindless reciting of “tired” repetitive phrases. If we are going to pray with the right heart, we must intentionally focus on speaking to our relationship with Him instead of our routine!
This alone has caused me to re-evaluate how much I pray from my selfish routine rather than God’s Kingdom agenda! I want to connect with God’s heart before I open my mouth to pray.