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In the last lesson we talked about assignments. We discussed that God assigns a particular task or duty to us until completion. We also talked about there being times when we do not have any assignments.
Does that mean that we should not pray at all during these times? Of course not! That would be the same as us not talking to our husband or wife unless an emergency comes up. Prayer is simply talking to God. The more we talk to Him, the better we get to know Him. Prophetic prayer is God talking back. It is God's desire to talk to His children.
Let's look in Exodus 20:18-19 when God called the Israelites to a meeting so He could talk to them: "When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance and said to Moses, 'Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.' "
God wanted to talk to His children, but His children were too scared and asked Moses to continue being God's spokesman. It seems that the only thing hindering the communication is not God, but us. In many ways we still see Him as a God who is eager to punish instead of to pardon. The Bible shows us that this is not true.
Genesis 3:8 talks about God walking in the garden in the cool of the day. God came down to walk with Adam, both of them engaged in fellowship. When I ponder this scripture I picture God looking forward to this time of fellowship with Adam. I can also picture God looking forward to fellowship with us. God always desired to be close to His people. That is the kind of God He is. You may think, "Well, that was Adam. He was special." Let's look at the scriptures.
Peter states in Acts 10:34: "Then Peter began to speak; 'I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism.' "
Romans 2:11 states: "For God does not show favoritism."
These two scriptures are just two examples teaching us that there is no reason to assume that God does not want to talk with us. If He wanted to talk to the patriarchs, He also wants to talk to us. Why else would He tell us in John 10:27 that, "My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me."
Simple. We are hearing His voice because He is talking. You may think, "Well it's different today. God doesn't talk to us anymore. We have the Bible." We find in Hebrew 13:8 that, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." Also, Malachi 3:6 tells us, "I the Lord do not change." God tells us that He is the same. He does not change. What He liked yesterday He likes today. What He disliked yesterday, He dislikes today. God has a special love for His creation whether it is Adam, Joe, Paul or Mary. We are special to Him and you are not an exception to that.
So what does it mean to have a "prayer lifestyle?" A lifestyle, according to Webster, is "a typical approach to living, including moral attitudes and preferred entertainment."
It means to put God first in everything. To love Him with all our hearts, souls and spirits. When we make Him the center of our lives, everything else will line up according to God's purpose. That means that we include God in everything. It means to get up in the morning and invite God into our day and our activities. To truly make Him Lord over our lives.
Let's put on Christ, as is stated in Romans 13:14. "Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature."
The neat thing is that we can pray anywhere. We can pray at our desk in the office. We can pray in the grocery store as we do our weekly shopping. We can pray out loud, in our thoughts and under our breath. There is not a place where we can't communicate with God. The early believers knew this and we know what God accomplished through them by reading the book of Acts. Talking to God was common among the early believers. Acts 1: 14 states: "They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers."
They chose a lifestyle of prayer. If you have not already done so, God invites you to make prayer your lifestyle as well.
In Acts 10 we read about Cornelius who was a centurion in the Italian Regiment. Verse 2 tells us, "He and His family were devout and God-fearing. He gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly." An angel appeared to Him and told Him that there was a memorial offering before God because of Cornelius's prayers and gifts to the poor. Imagine that. A memorial! That is not a small matter.
There was a time when I wondered whether my prayers made a difference or not. I had not seen many answers to my prayers during that time and I bore discouragement in my heart over this. For some reason, I was convinced that the scripture in James was not for me. God often talks to me in the car. When He talks to me He often is very direct. As I was on my way to dropping my children of at school, thinking about the day and things I had to do, suddenly I heard, "Think not that your prayers are not effective!" That sort of put things into perspective real quick that day.
James 5:16 states: "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."
Western society is geared toward instant gratification. We can get everything within a few minutes. We are not used to waiting. The same applies to our prayers. I have had many conversations with friends who didn't think God heard their prayers because the answers did not manifest within the timeframe they expected. They quickly reached the conclusion that God must not hear their prayers. We are on God's timetable not ours. Prayers are answered according to His divine plan. Even though the answer may take longer than we think, it is important to persist in prayer and to believe God instead of circumstances.
A scripture I find interesting is Isaiah 11:3 where it says: "And He will delight in the fear of the Lord. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears."
Jesus knew the big picture. He also knew that answers often come in progression. He didn't trust the "now" reality, which is only a piece, but the "complete" truth. He trusted the Father and because of that He was able to judge with righteousness.
The parable of the persistent widow is a perfect example of persistence (Luke 18: 1-8). Luke 18:1 says: "Then Jesus told His disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up." Ephesians 6:18 states: "And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints."
As we invite God into our prayer life, God will share His heart with us about the situation or expose strongholds that prevent healing. For instance, strongholds keep people from recognizing that they are in need of salvation. Let me share an example. I prayed for a specific person who had a lot of addictive habits. I started praying generally over him binding the spirits that exhibited the symptoms of the addiction, but it was necessary to find the root stronghold. I pressed into God and asked Him to expose the root problem and that night I had a vision. In the vision this person, who was a young man, would just sort of walk across the screen of my vision (like a movie screen) and I followed him with my eyes. But as he continued walking he transformed into a hideous looking old man who continued walking, but was bent over. As I was pondering this, I heard a voice say loud and clear: "alcoholism." Now I knew what the stronghold was and was able to pray accordingly.
This is powerful. God desires to come into our prayer life and talk to us about specifics of the situations we bring before Him. Our prayer life does not need to be a struggle. If it is, we are trying too hard. Remember God's yoke is easy and not burdensome to carry. Relax and talk with God as you would your best friend, because in reality He is your best friend.