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7 Keys for Your Prayer Life While Quarantined

David Shin
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David Shin

Pastor, Hillside O'Malley Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Anchorage, AK

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  • April 4, 2020
    12:00 PM
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I want to read to you a quotation from this article. It says, “For many Americans, a typical day right now might look something like this: Roll out of bed and check the smartphone. Open up a laptop and file for unemployment benefits through a website. Set up an online education portal for children out of school. Check in with a doctor through a telemedicine portal. Read news on Twitter. Buy groceries through Amazon. Watch stories on Instagram. Binge on Netflix. Connect with a group of friends on a Zoom video chat. What passes for normal life now happens almost entirely online.”

 

This is the age we’re living in as we are all isolated and sequestered in our own homes. Our time online has increased dramatically, and I, as a minister, am finding that my time online has increased exponentially, Zoom video conferences, video editing, video uploading, producing this video, giving Bible studies online, emails, social media. And all of these things I praise God for, because what would we do without the internet? We would not have the ability to connect with each other in this way, so we need to take advantage of it.

 

And I’m not diminishing the blessings at all that the internet brings us, but it’s a two-edged sword, I’m finding, and I’ve reflected on our spiritual experience as a community of faith as we transition into this online reality that we’re all living in right now. And I pray that we do not assume or come to the place where this becomes a replacement for our own personal Bible study and prayer life. This should be supplemental, and the irony of what I’m doing today in our study is to use the online medium to encourage us to spend time offline, to put our phones into airplane mode and to turn off our computers and to actually open the pages of the Bible (yes, that still exists), to open the pages of Scripture rather than going to your iPad or online because there are so many distractions. But I want to encourage you to actually go to the Book, the Bible, and open it up and engage the Word of God and to spend time in prayer.

 

Now, in a previous study, we talked about strengthening your devotional life, and today I’d like to talk about strengthening our prayer life. Now, it sounds almost cliché-ish to say that prayer is important because we as Christians, we all assume that prayer is important. We know that we should pray more, and it’s one of those things in Scripture that’s very easy to understand but very difficult to practice.

 

Now, I want to share a few quotations that have inspired me in my own prayer life, and I pray that they will be blessing to you. This is from Rodger Morneau, “In prayer and supplication to God, who waits for our requests for help so that He will then have the legal right in the sight of the universe to move with power into Satan’s domain and rescue his captives.” This is from the book, The Incredible Power of Prayer, page 41. Notice what Rodger Morneau indicates. He implies that there is a Great Controversy raging all around us between Christ and Satan, and somehow in the dynamics of the Great Controversy, when we pray and ask for God’s intervention in our life or the life of somebody else, that it gives God special authorization to move above and beyond what He would normally be able.

 

In other words, there are ground rules in the Great Controversy, and a fundamental principle that God has chosen to abide by is the freedom of choice. So, when we pray and we say, “Lord, I need help. I need Your intervention in my life. I need Your intervention in the life of my loved one,” that gives God special access, special authorization to move above and beyond the limits of what He would normally be able. And this is a beautiful thing about prayer.

 

The most powerful thing that you can do in your relationship with God is to give your consent, and then God says, “Okay, I have clearance. I have authorization now to move in this person’s life.”

 

Another quote I want to share on prayer; it’s from the book on Prayer, page 12. It says, “Prayer is the breath of the soul. It is the secret of spiritual power. No other means of grace can be substituted and the health of the soul be preserved. Prayer brings the heart into immediate contact with the Wellspring of life.”

 

Notice what she implies here. Analogously is that the same way we need air physically, we need prayer spiritually. You can go days without water, you can go weeks without food, but you can only go minutes, without air. And she says that prayer is the breath of the soul, the secret of spiritual power.

 

One other quote I want to share with you, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for what He has done.” This is a time when there is a lot of anxiety. There’s a lot of worry about the future, a lot of uncertainty. And now is the time to bring those burdens, to bring those uncertainties, to bring those worries to God. And the promise is that when we pray and bring these things before the Lord, that we will have a peace that passes all understanding. What a promise!

 

And if there is ever a time that we as God’s people should be praying, it is now. So, I want to share with you seven keys for strengthening your prayer life while we’re going through this quarantine period. And obviously these principles apply even when we’re out of quarantine.

 

Number one: Begin your day with prayer. This is from Psalm 5, verse 3, “My voice you shall year in the morning, O Lord; in the morning I will direct it to You, and I will look up.” There’s something about the morning time. Remember the manna fell in the morning, and when the sun came up, the manna would melt. In other words, there is a window of time in the morning in which you could get spiritually fed, spiritual communion, spiritual nourishment. There is that window for us every single day in the quiet of the morning that we can spend time with God in prayer because as the sun comes up, we’ll find that the cares of this life and its responsibilities will tend to crowd out our prayer time.

 

This is from Steps to Christ, page 70, “consecrate yourself to God in the morning; make this your very first work. Let your prayer be, ‘Take me, O Lord, as wholly Thine. I lay all my plans at Thy feet. Use me today in Thy service. Abide with me, and let all my work be wrought in Thee.’ This is a daily matter. Each morning, consecrate yourself to God for that day. Surrender all your plans to Him, to be carried out or to be given up as His providence shall indicate. Thus day by day you may be giving your life into the hands of God, and thus your life will be molded more and more after the life of Christ.”

 

So, when you get up in the morning, consecrate yourself to God for that day. You may have done that at your baptism. You may have done that last week, but this is a daily matter. You say, “Lord, I’m Yours today. I give You my heart today.” This is an important principle, to begin your day with God and to consecrate yourself to God.

 

Principle number two is to give your will to God. Romans, chapter 8, verse 6, says, “The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.” The Bible says that the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. Now, how do we come to the place where the Lord Jesus, through the Holy Spirit, governs our life?

 

This is from the book Steps to Christ, “Many are inquiring, ‘How am I to make the surrender of myself to God?’ You desire to give yourself to Him, but you are weak in moral power, in slavery to doubt, and controlled by the habits of your life of sin. Your promises and resolutions are like ropes of sand. You cannot control your thoughts, your impulses, your affections. What you need to understand is the true force of the will. This is the governing power in the nature of man, the power of decision, or of choice. Everything depends on the right action of the will. The power of choice God has given to men; it is theirs to exercise. You cannot change your heart, you cannot of yourself give to God its affections; but you can choose to serve Him. You can give Him your will…Thus your whole nature will be brought under the control of the Spirit of Christ.”

 

So, when you get up in the morning, you consecrate yourself to God, and you say, “Lord, I give You my will.” Have you ever had a habit or addiction or secret sin in your life that you could just not overcome? It seemed like every New Year’s resolution, whatever promise or track record that you had up to a certain point, it seems to break down if we try to use our willpower to overcome these things. But the principle is that when we get up in the morning, we give our will to God. When you think about it, foundationally this is the only decision we can really make, is to give God our will and to cooperate with the Spirit in working in our life on a day-to-day basis.

 

Now, what does that even look like when we talk about giving God our will? What if I don’t have a desire to give God my will? Or what if I have wrong motivations? Or what if I really love this sin in my life? Or I love this addiction? Or I love this habit, and I don’t want to let it go?

 

Listen to this quotation from the book, Thoughts From the Mount of Blessing, page 142, “The will must be placed on the side of God’s will. You are not able, of yourself, to bring your purposes and desires and inclinations into submission to the will of God; but if you are ‘willing to be made willing,’ God will accomplish the work for you.”

 

In other words, we can’t even surrender our will to God without the Holy Spirit. So, we can come to God and say, “Lord, I’m willing to be made willing. I desire to desire.” We can come to God and say, “Lord, I love this sin; help me to hate it.” “I love this addiction; help me to hate it.” “I love this secret sin; help me to come to the place where I despise it. Change my heart. Give me the desire to desire.”

 

If you’re struggling with something in your life, you give your will to God, and you say, “Lord, I’m willing to be made willing. This is who I am. Give me the desire to desire.” This is so foundational to our prayer life because sometimes we can be so inauthentic with God. We say, “I’m fine; I’m okay,” when really we have some things that we’re struggling with inside. Well, we can come to God and say, “Lord, this is my struggle. These are my challenges. Help me to be willing to be made willing.”

 

Principle number three: Pray for the Holy Spirit. Luke, chapter 11, verse 9 through 13, says, “So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. If a person asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? Of if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?”

 

Notice what Jesus said in verse 13, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” Many times this passage has been used to claim all types of things, a new car, a new house, but in the immediate context of this verse, Jesus is talking about the Holy Spirit. And we’re told that the Holy Spirit is the greatest gift that Heaven longs to bestow upon men. Remember on the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit fell upon the disciples, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.

 

And verse 13 in the original Greek tense, it literally says that we are to keep on asking for the Holy Spirit. In other words, it’s not once filled, always filled, and the implication is that we are to daily ask for the Holy Spirit. Now, why is the Holy Spirit living within us, dwelling within us, so essential to our Christian experience?

 

Here is 1 John, chapter 3, verse 24, “And by this we know that He,” Jesus, “abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.” Now, this is the implication of what 1 John is saying, that even though Jesus is in Heaven, that through the Holy Spirit, Jesus is able to abide in your heart and my heart through the Holy Spirit. So, when we ask for the Holy Spirit to fill us, the Holy Spirit brings with Him the presence of Jesus. So Jesus told us to ask for the Holy Spirit.

 

And here’s a quote that has been reassuring to my heart, Acts of the Apostles, page 565, “Prayer is heaven’s ordained means of success in the conflict with sin and the development of Christian character…For pardon of sin, for the Holy Spirit, for a Christlike temper, for wisdom and strength to do His work, for any gift He has promised, we may ask; and the promise is, ‘Ye shall receive.’”

 

Do you know there are certain prayers that are always yes prayers? You may ask for a car or a new house, and the answer will not always be yes. It may be, “Wait a while,” or sometimes it’s not in our best interest to have those things. But there are certain prayers that the answer is always yes. When you ask for forgiveness, the answer is always, “Yes.” For the Holy Spirit, the answer is always, “Yes.” So, when you get up in the morning, you give your will to God, and you say, “Lord, I ask for the Holy Spirit to fill me,” and you can know, regardless of the way that you may or may not feel that day, that you have received the Holy Spirit by faith because Jesus has promised it.

 

So, we come to number four, and this is more of a practical application here, is to journal your prayer. Now, if you’re anything like me, especially in the very early morning, and I haven’t had a lot of sleep, and the Lord wakes me up to pray, I found that in about the middle section of my prayer, my mind begins to wander. Or even worse, I fall asleep and then wake up and realize that I had been praying.

 

Now, one of the ways that has helped me in my prayer life is to actually journal and write out my prayer. Now, writing our prayers is a biblical practice. Many of the Psalms that you find in the Bible are written prayers. Daniel, chapter 9, is a prayer that was written out for our benefit. And so, this practice of writing our prayers, I think gives a certain focus to our prayers every morning.

 

Moving to our next principle here: Pray as in conversation with God as a friend. This is from Steps to Christ, page 93, “Prayer is the opening of the heart to God as to a friend.” This is an important principle because sometimes we can get so formal in our prayers that it loses authenticity. Now, this is not to say that our prayers should be irreverent, but when you read the Psalms, you can see, especially Psalms of David where he’s being very raw and honest with God about the way that he feels. And so there is a level of intimacy in our conversation with God that can be and should be in our prayer life.

 

Here’s a quotation from an author on conversation, “Our lives succeed or fail, change gradually, then suddenly one conversation at a time. The conversation is the relationship.” Think about the conversations that have dramatically impacted your relationships in your life. Conversation is the relationship. If there is no conversation, there is no relationship. And many times we talk about our relationship with God in this ethereal sense that’s very hard to think about tangibly. We say, “Oh, I have a relationship with God,” but what does that mean? If there’s no conversation, there is no relationship. So, prayer is conversation, and conversation is relationship, so prayer is relationship.

 

The implications of our prayer life being foundational to our relationship with God is grounded on this principle that you have to talk to someone in order for there to be a relationship. And in order for there to be intimacy, we need to have a regular conversation with God throughout the day, which brings us to point number six: Pray throughout the day.

 

First Thessalonians, chapter 5, verse 17, says, “Pray without ceasing,” and the book Steps to Christ indicates that we can have a closet of communion wherever we may be. When we’re walking the street, when we’re in a business transaction, when we’re caught in a very difficult situation and need wisdom from God, we can uplift our hearts to God in prayer.

 

We come to number seven, and that is to use the sanctuary as a map for your morning prayer. Now, this is not the only way to pray. There are other acronyms and other methodologies for ensuring that the essential parts of prayer are in your morning prayer. What I found that, if I don’t have some sort of mental map or blueprint, I tend to have my entire prayer of asking and receiving, or I leave out my intercessory prayer, or I forget to praise God and thank Him for what He’s done in my life. You can easily fall into a rut.

 

But I found that if I use the sanctuary as a mental map for my prayer, a mental model, it enables me to have a frame of reference for ensuring that the essential parts of my prayer are incorporated every morning. And here is a bird’s eye view of the Mosaic sanctuary. You can see that there are three compartments to the sanctuary. You have the courtyard, you have the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place.

 

In the courtyard, you have two articles of furniture. You have the altar of sacrifice; that’s where the lamb was slain. You have the laver; that’s where washing took place.

 

And then when you move into the Holy Place, you can see that there are three articles of furniture. You have the table of showbread, you have the altar of incense, and you have the menorah or the candlesticks.

 

And then you move to the Most Holy Place, and there you have the Ark of the Covenant and where the Shekinah Glory of God was.

 

Now, it’s interesting because, Adam and Eve, before the fall, they were able to have face-to-face communion with God, and they were in the Most Holy Place. They were able to have that conversation with God face-to-face. But as a result of sin, the entire human race was placed outside of the gate. And the sanctuary illustrates God plan of salvation to bring us back to that face-to-face communion that Adam and Eve had before the fall.

 

You notice in Revelation, chapter 22, when the New Earth is restored, the Bible says, “And they shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads.” In other words, we’re going to be restored back to that communion that Adam and Eve had before the fall. And the sanctuary illustrates the way that God brings us back to that Eden perfection and that wonderful relationship that Adam and Eve had prior to sin.

 

So, when you look at the sanctuary, you can see that there is movement that is implied. God wants to bring us into the courtyard, into the Holy Place, and into the Most Holy Place experience, and this provides a mental model for our prayers because every morning you come in, and you come into the courtyard. And the Bible says in Psalm 100, verse 4, “Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, and praise His name.”

 

So, as you begin your prayer time in the morning, to begin it with thanksgiving and praise. According to one of my professors, praise has to do with who God is, and thanks has to do with what He does for us. So, as we approach God in the morning, I believe it’s so essential to begin with praise and thanksgiving.

 

Then we come to the second article of furniture, the altar of burnt offering. And there, John 1:29 says, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” And it is at this point in my prayer that I invite the Lord Jesus into my heart. I receive Him as Savior and Lord of my life. I receive the robe of righteousness, and I ask Him to create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me.

 

Then we come to the next article of furniture, and that is the laver. It reminds me of 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” This gives us an opportunity to confess any sins that come to our mind, selfishness, wrong motivations, things that we may have said or done the previous day. And all of these things are part of confession. And it is at the laver that we receive cleansing from our sins.

 

Then we enter the Holy Place, and we come to the menorah, the candlesticks. Every single day, the priests would come in with oil and fill the candlesticks. They were to be filled daily, and the oil represents the Holy Spirit. The priest represents Jesus, and we are to ask for the Holy Spirit to fill us every single day.

 

Galatians, chapter 5, verse 22, says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” So, when we invite the Holy Spirit into our hearts, there is a natural fruit that comes out visibly. Now, you may not witness it immediately, but just as we plant a seed, and we don’t see fruit the next day, this is a gradual process. But you will find that daily, as you ask for the Holy Spirit to fill you, you will find that the fruit of the Spirit will be manifest as well.

 

Next, we come to the table of showbread. Jeremiah 15:16 says, “When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart’s delight, for I bear your name, O Lord God Almighty.” Now, this is a point in my devotional morning prayer that I pause, and I open the Word of God, and I feed on the Word. We’ve just asked for the Holy Spirit, and it’s important to ask for the Holy Spirit prior to opening the Word of God because the Holy Spirit is the great Teacher that will guide us into all truth. And after we ask for the Holy Spirit, we take the opportunity to feed our souls with the Word of God.

 

After that, you come to the altar of incense. And at the altar of incense, I’m reminded of Psalm 141, verse 2, “Let my prayer be set before Thee as incense, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.” This is the point in my prayer that I take the opportunity for intercessory prayer. This is the time to have a list of individuals that the Lord has placed on your heart to pray for.

 

Now, it’s important to pray, not only for the physical needs of individuals but also their spiritual needs, to pray for their salvation. And there’s something about the dynamics of the Great Controversy, as I mentioned earlier, that when you pray for somebody else, it gives God authorization to move above and beyond what He is normally able.

 

Remember that story of that paralytic that was led to Jesus by four friends. It’s interesting because as they let that man down on his bed in front of Jesus in that house, that the Bible says that when Jesus saw their faith, He healed the man. So you can have faith for somebody else according to the gospels. So, when you have faith and you pray for somebody else, it gives God the authorization and clearance to move in that person’s life.

 

Now, you and I have individuals in our lives, that if they were to die today, they would not be saved. Perhaps it’s your family member, perhaps it’s a son, perhaps it’s a daughter, perhaps it’s a father or mother, perhaps it’s your spouse. You long to have them give their life to the Lord Jesus Christ. And I want to encourage you to not give up praying for them because those prayers exist before God, and He does not forget them. Intercessory prayer is a powerful, powerful gift that God has given, and it is ours to take advantage of every single day.

 

We come to the last article of furniture, and it is the Ark of the Covenant in the Most Holy Place. Now, even though we’re not able to have that face-to-face communion with God that Adam and Eve had before the fall, we know that from the life of Enoch that he lived in the secret place of the Most High. He had that intimate walk with God that we can all have. And that walk was so intimate that God brought him physically into His presence because he existed spiritually in the presence of God every single day, and we can ask for that experience to continue, even though we have left our prayer closet. We can ask the Lord to have that walk with God that Enoch had in the book of Genesis. That experience can be ours, to dwell in the secret place of the Most High, to think about Jesus throughout the day.

 

I want to review these principles very quickly with you: 1) Begin your day with prayer; 2) Give God your will; 3) Pray for the Holy Spirit; 4) Journal your prayer; 5) Pray as in conversation with God as with a friend; 6) Pray throughout the day; 7) Use the sanctuary as a map for your morning prayer.

 

As we close, I want to share one of my favorite quotes from the book, My Life Today, page 302, “His angels are appointed to watch over us, and if we put ourselves under their guardianship, then in every time of danger they will be at our right hand. When unconsciously we are in danger of exerting a wrong influence, the angels will be by our side, prompting us to a better course, choosing words for us, and influencing our actions. Thus our influence may be a silent, unconscious, but mighty power in drawing others to Christ and the heavenly world.”

 

Friends, we can have this experience every single day. As we get up in the morning and consecrate ourselves to God, giving God our will, and saying, “Lord, I want to ask for the Holy Spirit today,” that God would commission His angels to be by our side, prompting us to a better course, choosing our words for us, and causing us to have a heavenly influence that will draw others to Him. I pray that today we would each commit to use this time to spend extra time in prayer and communion with God.

 

 

 

 

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