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You have to be feeling a bit "brave" for this lesson, as it might turn your prayer life upside down. The goal is to have our prayer life be Spirit-led, to make us confident in the prayer assignments He has given us, to identify those prayer targets we are carrying that God has not assigned to us, and to make us aware of prayer assignments that we've been missing.
The first step is to sit down and prayerfully comprise a list of all your regular prayer targets, things you pray for on a regular or ongoing basis. This may include specific people. It may include specific ministries, such as your local church or maybe GodSpeak International. It may include places, such as South Africa or Turkey. (These may be permanent or long-term assignments, or they may be short-term assignments that you are currently carrying.) It may include people you know, specific prayer requests that have been given to you, things you read in the newspaper or saw on the news that sparked your heart. It may include abstract things like a release of God's power and glory over the church or it may be very specific and measurable, such as that the murder rate of Oakland would go down. It may be for people's benefit (such as Lord make Aunt Sue strong in God and a woman of faith) or it may be for a specific need (Lord, please heal Dan's foot) or it may for a people group (Lord break financial oppression off of the people in Mitchell's Plain (South Africa) and release financial liberty among them), or it be direct spiritual warfare (taking authority and addressing spirits as God leads, etc).
The next step needs to be done at a different time than step 1 was done, like maybe the next day or later that week. Sit down and prayerfully go over this list with God. Ask God how He feels about each prayer target, what His heart is on it. Some of His answers may surprise you. For instance, I had been praying regularly for my husband's salvation after God had already promised it to me. I continued to petition for it. He told me to stop praying so frequently about that (though an occasional reminder was ok) and to trust Him to do what He has already promised. He said I was wasting prayer time and energy on something He'd already granted even though I hadn't seen the manifestation of His answer yet. He suggested that I put that "prayer energy" into other areas that He had assigned to me. It was actually very "freeing" to not be responsible to pray for Ed's salvation every day, but to trust God for it.
(By the way, the Lord has since raised up several intercessors who He has assigned (on and off) to pray for Ed's salvation. Every time I hear of someone God has raised up like that, it gives me more confidence in His faithfulness to keep His promises.)
I found that I was not putting enough prayer out in certain areas, like praying for a close friend's family. Shortly after that, the family suffered all sorts of attack and I found an increased energy and intensity to pray for them.
I found that I was praying for certain things out of obligation, rather than because God told me to. I had allowed a person to pressure me into agreeing to pray for them about something because I was afraid of hurting their feelings. To my surprise, God was not at all pleased with my prayers in this area. He would prefer I don't do that since I was not assigned to that area. And there had been some assignments I'd missed all together because I had been too busy with the "obligation" prayers.
Talk to God about each of your prayer targets. Do this several days in a row.
God may not say much to you about some of them, and that is ok. But, you will notice that God will repeatedly tell you "Yes" or "No" regarding certain assignments. Cross the ones that He repeatedly says "No" to off of your list for a few days and see what happens. Put the majority of your prayer focus on the ones that He repeatedly says "Yes" to.
Ask God to teach you not only what to pray, but how to pray for it. Be very open to His leading. Allow Him to move you in new areas of prayer.
Now, the last step is to ask God to make you aware, each time a new potential prayer target comes into your prayer life, as to how it comes in, whether or not it is an assignment from God for you to pray about. I am not talking about the one-time prayers, but rather the requests and targets that you feel led to "pray through."
Now let's go back to the four intercessor types (general, personal, strategic and warfare) from our previous lesson. Let me share how this applies what we are doing now. The reason you need to know this is so that you can ask the Lord to help you identify what type of intercessor you are and what type of style you work most effectively in.
Invite God to show you clearly what style of prayer He has gifted you in and called you to. Ask Him to begin to orchestrate more opportunities for you to move in the element He created you to be effective in. At the same time, ask Him to show you the areas (if any) where you are being pressured by man (instead of assigned by God) to pray, and ask Him to quickly identify to you when you are taking on a prayer assignment that is not of Him.
Remember, the goal is to prayerfully review your prayer life with God, and to fine-tune it so that your prayers are even more Spirit-led and even more effective.
The goal of this series has been to back up and take a look at our prayer life. We tried to understand what prayer is (a personal and deeply intimate relationship with God). We discovered that we launch into intercession (praying for others) out of the place of our own deep and personal relationship with God. Since we don't want anything to interfere in our own walk with God or in our prayer life, we looked at some of the more common pitfalls that can render our prayer life ineffective. Then we did some exercises (or spiritual disciplines) to help us grow in our prayer life and in our personal relationship with God. Finally, we looked at some specific details of our prayer lives, so we could identify what is productive (e.g., prayer assignments that are really from God) and eliminate anything that is unproductive (e.g., any prayer assignments that God has not given us).
Hopefully that will help us fine-tune our personal walk with God and our prayer assignments so that we are spirit-led in all we do. That is our ultimate goal. We need to be spirit-led in our personal prayer and in our intercessory assignments. That way we can grow even more in our gifting.
It can be very exciting as God takes us from one level up to the next level. New things begin to open up to us, increased friendship and intimacy with God, increased understanding, increased power and anointing and sometimes even increased scope of ministry and more authority in prayer. But all of these things are not as important as our own close and personal relationship with God.
I hope this teaching series has been helpful to you.
In closing, let me share my prayer for you:
I pray that you will be very sensitive to the Spirit's leading and direction, and that you will continue to grow into new depths in your relationship with God. Also, that you will hear His voice more clearly and be continuously transformed to be more and more like Jesus in all you think and do. Do in Lord! Amen.