Prayer is like push ups. We probably know how to do them and maybe we do them daily, and that is good but a NAVY Seal is way more accustom of doing them and sees the results of the push ups more. If you were asked you to do one push up, you could do that. If you were asked to do just one push up a day for a year you probable could do that, but the hard part of that would be remembering to do your one push up. But if you were asked to do a hundred push ups right now, that would be pretty difficult. But if you did a hundred push ups every day for a year, you would see results, they would become more natural, and you would be able to add more push ups.
The discipline of prayer is just that, a discipline. For most people it does not come natural to talk to God. Some people see prayer as very ritualistic and it is repeating the right words. I want to encourage you that prayer doesn’t have to be unnatural, or ritualistic. Prayer is just talking to God like you would talk to a friend. Practice talking to God; He wants you to talk to Him. God wants a relationship with you not a dictatorship. How would your relationship be if you only said one sentence to your spouse or loved ones every day? I would guess not great. God is your loving God that wants to hear about your day, wants you to tell Him when you are angry. He wants you to tell Him how excited you are about something. He wants you to come to Him with the good, the bad, and the ugly. Yes God is all knowing and He knows the good, the bad, and the ugly in your life but He wants to have conversations with you! God is called our Father (John 1:12) and one who sticks closer than a friend (John 15:13-15). He is personal and He wants us to be in communication and community with Him.
One thing that has helped me a lot in my prayer life is something my future mother in law told me about. She was talking about how to pray in the gaps. You don’t need to have three hours set aside at a certain time of day to talk to God. If you can thats awesome, but most of our lives are not conducive to hours of time in a prayer closet. There are jobs, and kids, and spouses, and after school activities, and family, and bills to pay, and dishes to do, and, and, and!! Life gets so busy that we don’t plan to forget about God, but it kind of happens. Praying in the gaps has really helped me. This is really seizing every little time you can to talk to God in prayer. On your dive to work, instead of listening to the radio, could you turn it off and have 15 minutes with God? When you are cooking dinner, could you ask God for something in your life? At the gym, could you pray for your family members while doing reps? When you look at the gaps that you have in your life and spend time with God in them, you realize that you have a lot of time to spend with Him!
God doesn’t just want us to practice talking to Him in prayer, He also wants us to practice listening to Him in prayer. God doesn’t just want to you to talk to Him, He wants to speak back. In 1 Kings 19:11-13, Elijah wants to hear Gods voice. God sends a great wind, an earthquake, and a huge fire. But it says that God’s voice was not in those things. Then there was a still small voice, and that was God’s voice. God speaks, are you still enough to hear Him? We talked about praying in the gaps, but as well as that, I would highly suggest that you practice sitting and listening to the voice of God. It might not be an audible voice, but when you sit in His presence He speaks! Find a place where you can be still. Prayer closet, prayer walks, drive to work, chair in your living room. Not just a place to do devos, but a place where you listen.
I want to spend the next section talking about fasting. Prayer and fasting goes hand in hand and fasting is something that I don’t think Christians utilize enough. Fasting is truly a powerful weapon against the enemy! Fasting is giving up food or something else in order to focus your thoughts on God. It is found in scripture over 50 times.
Fasting is not a diet and God calls you to be healthy. Yes, Jesus fasted for 40 days and nights without any food. But at the same time God tells us that our body is a temple and we need to steward over what God has given to us. (1 Corinthians 6:19). If you already have some health issues, you might want to start with a simple fast, just one day fast or partial fast, or talk to you doctor before starting. God wants you to draw close to Him but He wast you safe and healthy. Here are some tips to think about and practice when you fast!
Fasting is a time to humble yourself and draw closer to the Lord
Don’t make it apparent that you are fasting (read Matthew 6:16-18.)
Suzanne Niles and Wendy Simpson from crosswalk.com blog, give five things that fasting accomplishes.
-Fasting and prayer can help us hear from God
-Fasting and prayer can reveal our hidden sin
-Fasting and prayer can strengthen intimacy with God
-Fasting and prayer can teach us to pray with the right motives
-Fasting and prayer can build our faith
Fasting helps you to completely focus. When you are committed to a fast, every time you hear your stomach rumble, it remains you to focus back on Jesus. For me, I have seen that it isn’t just freeing up my day to add in a bible study where I would have gone to lunch, it keeps a constant dialog going with the Lord all day long. I know that I have to rely on the Lord for my strength completely.
Types of fasting
Regular fast: abstaining form all food and drink besides water (read Matthew 4:2-3, Luke 4:2) You can survive with out food but without supernatural intervention, you can only survive three days without water
Partial fast: abstaining from particular food like the Daniel fast (read Daniel 1:8- 12, 10:3). This doesn’t mean just saying no to junk food and you never eat junk food. It should be a sacrifice.
Liquid fast: abstaining from all solid food. Things like juices and smoothies help sustain you longer.
Complete fast: no food or liquids of any kind. (read Ezra 10:6, Esther 4:16, Acts 9:9). This should only be a couple of days unless you really know that you know that the Holy Spirit will sustain you because this could be medically damaging.
Partial fasting: giving up one meal for an extended period of time and devote that time to God.
Non food fast: giving up something like social media, tv, movies, for a time to devote that time spent on the Lord.
Jesus talks about some miracles only happen through prayer and fasting (Read Matthew 17:21). Your faith is strengthened through a fast and it lets the Holy Spirit move.
In my experience, during fasts, I hear God so clearly, but never on what I think I need to hear. I have done fasts where I praying specifically for something, I hear from the Lord but it is not at all what I thought I needed to hear.