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How to Pray with Passion and Power

Alan Parker


Alan Parker

Professor of missions and evangelism and director of Pierson Institute of Evangelism at Southern Adventist University




  • July 15, 2010
    3:00 PM
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I have no remote clicker it has gone missing so I'll just have to push the button every now and again but

What we're dealing with in this particular section is prayer. I know that each one of us wants to have a deeper prayer life, and so before we get into our main section here we’re going to give you the opportunity to spend some time in prayer. It would be ironic if we had a seminar on prayer and we didn't pray. So we want to give you an opportunity to just focus your thoughts on God.

I find it useful when I'm praying to not just get into the rote prayers, you know, dear God be with my family, be with my pet dog, I love you Lord, thanks for the weather; you know those are the eight-year-old prayers. But we’re still praying eight-year-old prayers when we're 18 and when we're 28 and 38, so we need to the change our prayers to be more meaningful. I want to encourage you to do for the prayer time that I'm going to give you now, is to take one thing that is on your heart, one particular area that's on your heart, and to pray about that one thing, and continue interceding with the Lord on that one thing until you find resolution. Obviously we don't have a lot of time, but wherever you are right now just take one thing on your heart. Now I’ll give you some examples:

It could be a family member.

It could be an area in your life that you’re struggling with.

It could be just praising God and just saying I’m going to praise you God about things that you've done in my life.

It could be about a decision you have to make.

So whatever it is I want you to take one thing, and I want you to pray about that one thing before we begin our session on prayer. So kneel down, stand, raise your hands, don't jump up and down and start speaking in tongues, but you can do how thou the Spirit leads you as you pray to him now. So take one thing and we are going to pray about that one thing for just a few minutes here.

Lord in this moment of worship, we come to you knowing that you are a God who can do all things. You’ve heard the prayer requests, the praises, make those real. Enable change, transform us, because we believe that as we are in prayer, where two or three are gathered together you are in their midst. We believe your presence is here. So father we’re pleading for your presence to transform, in Jesus name amen.

We’re talking about how to pray with passion and power, and how many of you have discovered that your prayer lives are often not what they should be? If you have a perfect prayer life, then you probably should go to one of the other seminars because this is for those of us who are struggling with the fact that we struggle to pray with passion and power. I want to suggest to you that as we begin this, that you can’t take a method, a strategy and that's going to work in all situations. I can’t give you here’s the formula, this is not Reader's Digest, five ways to improve your prayer life, and you just do these five things, you’ll have a great prayer life. It’s much more like a relationship that it's going to take time, energy, effort, it’s going to take a commitment but the rewards are worth it. Do you follow what I'm saying? It’s not going to be a strategy but it is going to be spirituality, and that's what makes the difference.

We want to deal with some of the challenges of a prayer life and how we can change.

This is what I've heard from people:

My prayers feel like they’re bouncing off the ceiling. I don’t know if God hears them or if he even cares. Have you ever heard that said to you before?

I can’t seem to concentrate during prayers, as soon as I close my eyes I start thinking of something else.

I find myself saying the same things over and over, every day it's the same as yesterday. Lord you know what I prayed about, it’s the same kind of thing today.

I can see that with my kids, my three-year-old, okay would like to pray? And Skyler says yes, I’d like to pray, ‘Dear God, please bless this food, amen. I’m like, it’s worship time, there is no food. Well, I guess there is food, but he doesn’t understand that, spiritual food, and so you know they’re just the same prayers. I remember listening to Dick O’Fill and he was saying when he was younger his little baby sister used to go “didda pooda pan” for prayer, and like what is that? ‘Dear Jesus, please bless the food, amen’ and it came out “didda pooda pan” because you just shorten it and say it as quickly as you can. So how we going to move beyond these rote, routine prayers and be able to go deeper with God?

I'm suggesting in this seminar that there are two missing ingredients: one that we lack passion and secondly that we lack power. What is the difference between passion and power? Passion suggests what? Emotion. Many people have dry prayers that have no emotion.

I remember going to this one prayer meeting and they started praying, and the first person, prayed some long prayer but it was, ‘Our Father who dwells in the heavens’ and then the next person next to them started praying, ‘Our Father who dwells in the heavens and is over all the earth’, and the next person prayed, ‘Our Father who dwells in the heavens and is over all the earth, and is right here in this room’. And the next person added to it until they had these long complicated prayers, and I'm just like, ‘Lord, let it be over’. That was my only prayer, because the routine was killing my passion. I mean these complicated ritualistic prayers was killing the passion, so passion has emotion.

What about power, should prayers have power? Did Jesus expect that there would be power attached to prayer? Yes, he did he said ‘when you pray, you can expect mountains to move’. When you pray in answer to faith, incredible miracles will happen. Healings will take place there was power connected with prayer. Today it seems that we lack both passion and power. It’s the same old, same old, say the whole prayer, none of this etc, etc. There etc. etc. you know, be with all of them etc. etc. and that's yet, how it tends to be how our prayers are, so that’s why we lost our passion.

Something things that you can think about: Are our prayers merely a wish list? You know what I’m talking about? ‘Dear God could you take care of this, and by the way I need good weather because I'm going water skiing tomorrow so please if you can provide good weather, and please just disrupt the farmer so that I could go waterskiing. And then while you’re at it Lord, I really need an A on the test. I know I should've studied, but I believe you can override and make the exam exactly what I need it to be and just if you can give me that Lord, that would be really good. And you know my girlfriend, she seems to not be doing everything that I’d like her to do, so if you could change her that would be really wonderful.’ So we have these long wish lists, be with uncle so-and-so who has cancer and everything else but it's a wish list of everything we would like God to do to make our world perfect.

All I’m going to suggest, if you really want passion, does your prayer reveal a thirsty heart? because as you go through the prayers in the Bible, you sense a thirstiness, whether you’re reading Daniel's prayer or Nehemiah's prayer or one of David's prayers, or one of Jesus’ prayers, you since this deep thirstiness, ‘God I'm crying out to you, my soul longs after you, I’m broken Lord, and I can’t sleep at night’. You hear that deep inner thirst coming out. When was the last time you prayed like that? Because we’re not connected with our inner needs. So prayers are made passionless when we lose touch with our deepest needs, and our desire for the heart of God.

I'll never forget the day when prayer and passion combined together in my life. I was a typical college student, I didn't stay in contact with my parents very much because I was so busy having fun and studying hard and praying hard and everything else. So I called my mother eventually, after two weeks, and I say, ‘Hey mom how's it going?’ She said, ‘well since the last time we talked I’m afraid your stepfather’, who was at that stage an agnostic, he didn't really know if he believed in God, ‘he has fallen sick’ and she said, ‘in the last week, in the last seven days he is not been able to get out of bed. I've had to bring him something for him to be able to even go to the bathroom, he can’t get out of bed to go to the bathroom, and I’m really worried.’

I was like, oh man, I should have been calling her. What was I thinking? I was so worried that when I got off the phone and I realized he could die, I went down to my room and I started to pray.

I've noticed something about prayers, C. S. Lewis brought it to my attention: don't pray about the missionaries in Africa and about random church officers and leaders if you have no connection with them. He was saying, pray about something that's on your heart and you'll find your prayers effective. So with this in mind, I went down to my room and I just began to pour out my heart and you try this. When you are speaking about something that's on your heart, you can pray for a long time. When there’s something that's a burning issue on you heart, you can pray for a while. So there I am and I’m praying I don’t know how long, it was for maybe an hour. Eventually my roommate comes down and he kind of taps me on the shoulder and I’m like, ‘no, no I’m praying’. He says, ‘well it’s your mom on the phone’. So I get up off my knees and I go to answer the phone and her first question out of her mouth is “have you been praying?” I’m like yes, why? She says because Jonno (sic), that was my stepfather, as he was lying in the bedroom remember he was agnostic, he suddenly says, ‘I think Alan's praying for me’. Then he felt a strength come back, and she says ‘it was unbelievable, for the first time in a week, he got up by himself and he went to the bathroom’. The sickness that he had, he was healed of and he ended up becoming a Christian as a result of that experience.

For me the power of that was, I wasn't even thinking, you know maybe I' have too little faith, I wasn’t even thinking that God was going to heal him right there, I mean I've never experienced anything like that, so I didn’t expect it. I was just pouring out my heart to God and the passion of pouring out my heart to God, I didn't have to think about what to say or how long I was going to pray, I just poured out my heart and God answered with power and I recognized that prayer is powerful. Can you say amen?

You know, God has an ability to step in and commune with us and prayer can make a difference if it's not a wish list, not just simply going through all the people you have to pray for, but reveals the desire of the thirsty heart longing for God.

Take a look at this Testimonies volume 7 page 42 The idea that prayer is not essential is one of Satan's most successful devices to do what? ruin souls. Prayer is what is it? communion with God, that means it's a talking with God, it's a connecting with God, it's a conversation with God who is the fountain of wisdom, the source of strength and peace and happiness.  {7T 42.3}

So when we pray we connect with the fountain, the source, the peace, the happiness. We are connecting with all of those things, and so those who neglect to pray, guess what they’re going to have? Instead of peace and strength and happiness, they are going to have sadness and weakness and distress. Do you follow me? Because only when we pray do we connect with a God who is able to make that work. By prayer we are connecting with the God of the universe, the same power that created everything that exists. So when I pray, the same power the same power that said ‘let there be light’ that's the power I’m connecting with. When I pray the same power that was able to step into somebody's life and Jesus was able to heal him, that's my intercessor that I'm connecting with. So when I pray I have all of that power at my disposal, that's why isn’t it remarkable, when prayer is the key in the hand of faith you know the quotation, to do what? to unlock what does it mean to unlock heaven's storehouse, {SC 94.2}

What does that phrase mean? You have access. It’s kind of like when you pray you are stepping into the whole storehouse of God, and he says, “You've got a problem here? I’ve got an answer right here, I’ve got a whole storehouse, which answer do you need?”

We often say, you know, there’s three ways God can answer us. What do we say? Yes, no and wait. Those are @13:13… but I have a different way.

When we pray there are a thousand ways God can say yes. Now it may not be the yes you are looking for, your praying for ‘dear God please give me that particular girl’, and instead he’s saying, you know what I think he's really praying, because remember the Holy Spirit really has to translate our prayers, what he's really praying is give me the character that will attract that kind of girl. So what I’m going to do is send a few little difficulties his way to develop his character, so my answer is yes, but just not exactly the way you thought about it. And he takes you in, to the store. Now remember that if he's the God of the universe, if he can create everything, that that power that he has, he has the ability to change all kinds of circumstances. He has the ability to change your character, he has the ability to do all kinds of things if you just step into his storehouse, the whole power of the universe, it’s like an electrical plant is waiting for you. You’ve got to step in and bzzzzzz and it’s like wowwwww, this is power, but don’t get a power rush because the way he answers may be different than what you expect. So yea, the same power that healed the sick brought hope to the hopeless, opened the eyes of the blind, it calmed the raging waves and brought life from death, that’s the power you’re connecting with. So why wouldn't you pray? I mean that is just phenomenal. Now notice why you need prayer.

Without unceasing prayer and diligent watching those two often go together in Scripture, prayer and watching we are in danger of growing what? careless and of deviating from the right path. The adversary seeks continually to obstruct the way to the mercy seat, because the devil knows when people pray things happen so he doesn't want that to happen, that we may not by earnest supplication and faith obtain grace and power to do what? resist temptation. {SC 94.2}

So a lot of people go you know, I just can't overcome this kind of thing and it keeps beating me up. Look I understand, I understand but there is power. The problem is when you're being tempted, you don’t want the power. There is the power, all you have to do is pray, and when you pray, when you have a consistent prayer life, you have what? The power to resist temptation. But I know what happens in the middle of sin. I don’t want to pray right now because what if you give me the power to overcome and then I won’t have the sin? So I just skipped the prayer. So sometimes we don’t even want the power, even though it's available to us. Here is what it does, if that the devil can get us to not find our way to the mercy seat, if he can get us to not by earnest supplication and of faith obtain grace and power, he knows he can get us to fall.

Now notice again, The darkness of the evil one encloses those who do what? neglect to pray. Now what does the word neglect mean? It doesn't mean you actively don't do it, you just forget, you kind of just let it slip, you just like let it go by the wayside. The whispered temptations of the enemy entice them to sin why?; and it is all because they do not make use of the privileges that God has given them in the divine appointment of prayer. Why should the sons and daughters of God be reluctant to pray, when prayer is the key in the hand of faith to unlock heaven's storehouse, {SC 94.2}

You want power? You want to be able to overcome sin? It’s very clear and we see it all through the Bible, we see it indicated here in Ellen White, that when you pray, you have power to overcome sin. Amen?

Now I’m not saying that she has a magic formula you just pray and all temptation disappears. What I'm saying you may have to really pray through some things, you may have to struggle but the power is there. Pray a little, is that what it says? No, Pray much. Prayer is the life of the soul. The prayer of faith is the what is that? weapon by which we may successfully resist every assault of the enemy. {Ms24-1904 (March 8, 1904) par. 27}  So when you are praying you have a weapon in your hands by which you can resist the enemy. The devil can ‘hey what about having this delicious chocolate cake, with only 1,010 calories, come on chocolate cake, oh look at how nice it…’ and you just bring out your weapon, prayer, and you are able to pray and the devil, he has the step back because you have the power now, to overcome that temptation. So when we pray we have a powerful weapon.

Prayer not only is the life of the soul. (Messages to Young People, 249, 250.) Again, here is a similar statement prayer is the breath of the soul. Are you thinking about breathing right now? I remind myself okay, breathe in breathe out, breathe in unless you’re having a baby, then you may need to remind yourself, but otherwise it's spontaneous, it's automatic. So when you are praying it should become an automatic response to turn to God. So when you are praying it's just an automatic response, it is continual, breath in God's Spirit. In fact, Ellen White has this picture of an atmosphere that surrounds us, as we are just surrounded by this atmosphere of grace as we are praying continually.

Now notice, It is the secret of spiritual power. No other means of grace can be substituted and the health of the soul be preserved. You don't breathe, what happens? You die. You don’t have prayer, spiritual death. Prayer brings the heart into immediate contact with the Wellspring of life, and strengthens the sinew and muscle of the religious experience. {GW 254.4}

Now I'm going to admit to you that as a Seventh-day Adventist pastor this was my weakest area. I knew how to study the Bible, I knew how to preach, I didn’t know how to pray. Prayer was secondary, you can get by without praying and still be an Adventist pastor. Isn’t that shocking? And yet because you can do all the right things, and you can teach the right doctrines, you can even preach evangelistic series, but you can kind of skip prayer. And so I was weak, I couldn’t pray for extended periods of time, and I tell you what makes the difference, and I pray that you don't have to learn this way. Crises, when you go through crises, suddenly your pray life goes up. That’s why the most prayers are said during exam time. Could you go through a crisis and suddenly you discover your need of prayer. But we should be praying more constantly, it should be the life of the soul the breath of the soul

Neglect the exercise of prayer, or notice this engage in prayer spasmodically, what does that mean? Sporadically, every now and again, now and then, as seems convenient, and you lose your hold on God. The spiritual faculties lose their vitality, the religious experience lacks health and vigor.—(MYP, 249, 250.) {Pr 84.4}  

You want to know why spiritual experience is so poor? Because we don't know how to pray. Until we freely get to grips with our lack of prayer, the Seventh-day Adventist church is never going to go to heaven. I mean we’re not going to finish this work, because we don't know how to pray. You can preach evangelistic meetings until you are blue in the face and you will discover it's not going anywhere because we lack prayer, with prayer comes power.

So what's the purpose of prayer? Is prayer simply a religious duty, pray three times a day over your food no matter what? Is prayer to touch the heart of God? I read a book on that called Prayer Touching the Heart of God. Do I have to change God's mind? If I just pray long enough and hard enough, God will change his mind and do what I want. When a person’s sick, some people go, you know we’re not praying enough, let’s pray 4 hours because maybe if we pray for more hours, maybe God will change his mind and heal this person. What kind of thinking is this? Do we pray so that God can answer our wishes and desires? Is prayer ultimately about God making us more comfortable? I still remember somebody telling me, ‘I don't know why we had a flat tire on the way to school this morning because I prayed’. You know and if I pray it’s supposed to be like magic, if you pray everything goes right. So you still hear that that sense of, I just have to pray and everything will work out. ‘I don't know why she said no, I prayed and then I asked her to go out with me and she still said no, maybe she’s not listening to God.’ So we get confused about what prayer is about.

Notice in Christ Object Lessons what prayer is about.

Prayer is not to work any change in God; what is it for? it is to bring us into harmony with God. {Pr 307.3}

In prayer we become re-created in God's image. This is profound. You think about your prayer life, what do you often pray about? The things you need, for people who are sick, what else? For safety, right? Safe travels, for kids.

Now notice all of these things are about trying to get God to do something for you. God wants us to bring on desires and our needs before him, amen?

But the real purpose of prayer is not so that God can do something for someone else, but so that God can change us.

I've had the experience, and one day some of you probably will too, and some of you already have, where I’ve been in an argument with my wife, I mean a discussion we never have arguments, but I’ve had a discussion with my wife and as we’re busy having this intense discussion I will have a chance to like pray to God, you know we’ll have this moment of silence between us and I will pray ‘okay God what have I done wrong?’ and then he will convict me and I have to say those two terrible words, ‘sorry, I'm sorry’ but I don't want to say it, and as I'm praying God convicts me, he is doing what? He is changing me into his image and so when you pray, prayer should not be God fix this person and fix that person; ultimately the purpose of prayer is ‘God, how can I be different so that I can do something in that person's life, to make a difference in that persons life?’ How can I be different, to be what you need me to be? How can we as a church be different?

You find a lot of prayers in the Bible are about living up to God's will, whether it’s corporately or individually.

So two things you want to look at, and we look at the same with Bible study.

Why do you pray, what's your motivation? and we dealt with that a little bit now, and then, How do you pray, what's your method? are you using effective methods.

Now take a look at Jesus motivation. There are three great prayers that we can look at that Jesus prayed. I want you to think about what are in these prayers. So let’s turn to the first one. Matthew 6 and take a look at the Lord’s Prayer that begins in verse 9. Matthew 6:9 Pray then like this Mt 6:9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 6:10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. 6:11 Give us this day our daily bread. 6:12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 6:13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.



Our Father in heaven, I want you to tell me what's the focus of this prayer, you now the prayer, Hallowed be your name. 6:10 Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. 6:11 Give us this day our daily bread. 6:12 And forgive us our debts, as we have forgiven our debtors. 6:13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

By the way Ellen White at a certain stage in her life prayed this prayer every day, the Lord’s Prayer. What's the focus of that prayer? Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be your name… Your will be done… keep us from temptation, in other words help us not to slip away from doing what you want us to do. Even when it says 6:11 Give us this day our daily bread it’s suggesting, ‘God we’re dependent on you, we can't do anything without you’. It’s saying ‘I'm not going to do it on my own, You give me what I need’ and so the focus is God and his will.

Take a look at John 17 and you can see that's a long prayer so we don't have time to read everything in that prayer, but if you look at John 17 sometimes called the high priestly prayer, notice what Jesus says John 17:1

John 17:1 These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: 17:2 As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.

When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son, so that your Son may do what? glorify you: since you've given him authority over all flesh,  

and then notice John 17:3

John 17:3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

And this is eternal life, that they may know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.

John 17:4 I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. 17:5 And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.

Verse 4, I have glorified you on earth: I know your translations may be a little different, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. Now, Father, glorify me as well.

So he is pointing out the glory of God, and we don't have time to go through the whole section here, but if you read it, you can clearly see that the focus of this prayer is the glory of God.

And of course you know the prayer in the garden of Gethsemane, what is he praying? Not my will but yours be done. What was the focus of Jesus prayer life? Was it a wish list? No, he certainly prayed, he presented his request, there was nothing wrong with that, but when Jesus prayed, the focus was, he prayed for The Father's glory and his Father's will to be done.

Now that's going to take a change in our prayer lives. When you start praying, God how can I have your will done, instead of the wish list, you start praying to be and not to get. Do you follow me? Start praying to be.  God how can you will be done in my life? How can glory be brought to you? How can I glorify your name? That’s what was in Jesus prayer.

I want to give you four elements that was the motivation, I want to give you four elements of Jesus prayer and then we are going to have a chance to practice some of this right of the end.

The first element that we notice is address. Address, when we come to God we address him. Now how did Jesus address God in prayer? Our Father, all right. We notice immediately that this is relational. It's not all about God, and it is not all about me. Prayer is a relational element, and this Father element introduces that relational section, we pray to Abba, which is daddy. Now it wasn't just little kids that use this, even adults use this for their parent, it was an intimate yet respectful term and it suggested we have a relationship.

Now this was radical, in Jesus day the Pharisees treated God's name as so holy, and the scribes, they treated it so holy they couldn't even write it out. So they had to use other words in the place of Yahweh, they couldn’t say that, so they had to use other words. Now here comes along Jesus and he revolutionizes their prayer life. Because what does he do? Instead of these long words and instead of avoiding the use of God’s name he uses this intimate term, Daddy. What does daddy mean? I know for some of us the word daddy doesn't have the best connotations, but what should daddy mean? A loving father, yea, this is somebody I highly respect, it should be anyway, and I know it’s not for all of us because we live in a world of sin. Respect, trust, love, intimacy.

Jesus brings all of this together. He shows that prayer is relational, prayer is about bringing us into relationship with the Trinity and I don't always like the word Trinity, I should say the Godhead. God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. It brings us into a relationship with God and they are all involved Jesus is interceding, the Holy Spirit is interceding, the Father is willing to bestow his gifts and we have this beautiful intimacy as we enter into prayer.

‘Daddy, Daddy I'm here, and I want to glorify you. I want your name to be lifted up. Daddy my heart is being poured out, you know what I'm broken about this week.’

I just share my heart with God because Ellen White says prayer is speaking to God as to a friend. But notice it’s not just to a friend, and I can't fully put my mind around this, but God is both friend and Lord. So the two elements come together, when he's my friend I just pour out my heart.

‘God you know that I've had a rough week this week’,

and I just pour out my heart as to a friend, but at the same time as I enter into God’s presence he's my Lord, and he's lifted up, and I'm bowing down and I'm worshiping him, and I’m able to pour out my heart to him. The word Daddy has both, do you understand how we do this? So when we come to God, we should have both reverence and yet at the same time a free conversational sharing. So that's how we address him, He’s our Father and we come.

Then the next element is we adore him. Again you can see this in all of the prayers in Scripture. You notice Jesus said hallowed be thy name. He is pointing out the adoration aspects. The Bible says enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise. So adoration is about giving God glory and praise and if you want to change your prayer life you can simply add an adoration component.

‘God I’m going to bow down before you and adore you. I’m going to mention all of the great things that you've done and you’re the ruler of the universe’.

I like to put pictures in my head when I pray because otherwise I tend to get distracted, so what kind of pictures can you imagine about God? Any of you creative here? What are pictures that you can put in your head when you start to adore God? Give me some pictures.

God on his mercy seat, and his angels there, and it's kind of like he's got a huge big firehose of mercy, this is what makes it come alive for me and he just he just opens the tap and the mercy waters start coming down and flowing over me.

Give me some other pictures.

“God taking a little child by the hand and showing them all the universe.” Excellence is kind of picking you up and you can start seeing in the Universe his hand is in your hand and he's showing you, over here, can you see my child, look at the universe here, and you’re taking a walk with God in your prayer life.  

Give me something else. That communion and you joined them, extra third-party, they love it. You begin to see the pictures, you begin to feel God's presence in that moment. Any other ones?

Creation of God, just the whole creation. I imagine God, you are creating things, and light comes forth and I say ‘God, I need that light in my life’. Then after the light comes the waters, and I just feel those waters flowing over me. Then after the waters comes the creation of the earth, and I just imagine things blooming where my life is like a desert as I imagine things coming up. As I think the pictures, the emotions tend to follow, and suddenly my prayer has passion.

Somebody who can intently listen, yes that’s powerful, you are sitting on his lap, and I'm having to repeat it for the sake of the AudioVerse, you are sitting on his lap, he's looking at your face, he's intently watching. He cares about your heart. Have you ever had somebody who cares so deeply that they look at you and you can tell they have read your heart, they care about what’s on your heart, and you start crying, you don't even know why because you just sense that here is somebody who cares that deeply.

Until I became a father I didn't really understand then, until I found myself spontaneously singing over my child, because you just sense that joy over your love for the child. And to have God do that for us is just a powerful picture. So this is adoration.

So there in the garden of Gethsemane, you see that same pouring out his heart, that supplication, and crying tears like blood, you see that as how he feels your pain and how he feels with a mother, what happens with a child, he experiences it. What's happening here is, we are experiencing God's heart so that in turn we can become more like him. When he weeps over the lost we should have that same experience, because we've experienced the heart of God, and prayer is changing us into the heart of God. So adoration is about giving God glory and praise but also experiencing who he is.

Now then of course there's asking and that's the part that we already know, so I’m not going to spend too much on it. We know how to ask, that's the part we do the best. We come to him and it's appropriate to have a time to ask and present our needs. If you go through the Lord’s Prayer, you go through other prayers in the Bible, they always have that element but it’s within the context of adoration.

Then this last part is advocate, because the power of Christ is available for us through faith. He is our intercessor in the heavenly sanctuary and in these beautiful pictures of Christ stretching down his hand to touch our humanity, and with his other hand touching God's divinity. Have you ever read those pictures in the Desire of Ages and other places? So what you have is that he's got the power to bring divinity and humanity together. So when you're praying this last section you enter into the heavenly sanctuary and you start praying,

‘God, I believe that Jesus is standing at your right hand, oh Father, and that he is interceding for me. Oh Jesus, please touch me with divinity. Help my humanity to be lost in your divinity. Help me to see myself in your place, oh please take my place for me.’

We start seeing that Jesus is our intercessor and you can pray it in different ways. But you recognize God's power, you claim God's power in your life through Jesus Christ, and you are able to plead for others, you are able to plead that the Holy Spirit will work on others behalf. But Jesus is your advocate and so you always end with Jesus, because how are you going to end your prayer? In Jesus name. So praying in Jesus name means that you are praying that Jesus will make that prayer powerful and effective. Not yourself, not how hard you pray, but that Jesus will make it powerful and effective.

Some things that we find in Ellen White that I’m just going to make mention of. How should we pray? Prayer should be speaking to God as to a friend. We also see she says to pray in secret, that there is power in secret prayer. If most of your prayer is only corporately, you’re missing out. She says to pray without ceasing. Now how can you pray without ceasing? I mean you can't pray literally all the time, if you are a man because we can only do one thing at a time. So what does it mean to pray without ceasing?

It should be a natural talking to God, a natural response. Now other people think this is a little crazy because they see you muttering to yourself, but you are surrounded with that atmosphere of prayer. You don't have to kneel down, you can be driving, you can be talking, you can be walking. While I’m giving a Bible study I'm praying to God. He’s constantly there, that's the sense, God's constant presence around you.

Enoch, walked with God, it doesn’t mean that he didn’t do anything else. I love the picture that we turn to God as the sunflower turns towards the sun, that’s just our constant orientation.

When I was in Zimbabwe I was traveling with my senior pastor, Pastor Mavootie (sic), he and I were traveling together and suddenly the car broke down. So immediately I jumped out and I started trying to work on the engine, and I noticed he wasn't helping me. So I came around and said aren’t you going to help me? He says, “I didn't know anything about fixing cars, what I know how to do is how to pray.” I noticed the difference between our response, he prayed and I was trying to work. I felt rebuked by that because I realized I should have been praying first, sure you have to do your part, but your first response should be prayer. That’s what it means, this unbroken communion with God, praying without ceasing.

Pray with thanksgiving, every prayer should be offered with thanksgiving and we certainly see that in Scripture, particularly in Philippians 4:6-7, that we should present our prayers with thanksgiving. We should pray with faith, believing that is not our power, it’s not our strategies, but it is Jesus Christ who is able to make a difference. And we should be praying for God's will to be done. Each one of these is mentioned as how we should pray.

When I think about how I'm going to recognize, okay I’ve got to pray, I’ve got to have secret prayer, I’ve got to be speaking to God, I’ve got to make it part of my overall life. I need to make sure that I pray with thanksgiving, with faith, that I’m praying for God's will to be done. That’s why I said that our prayer life doesn't often incorporate these three elements right here. Sometimes God isn't going to answer just the way you expect. Every day, there is a suggestion in Steps to Christ, we should have this daily prayer.

Consecrate yourself to God in the morning; make this your very first work. Let your prayer be, notice what the prayer is “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 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. {SC 70.1} 13}

What this prayer is saying is, “I’m going to give you everything Lord, everything in my life.”

I kind of feel like, as Christians, we don't mean what we say, when we say “all to Jesus I surrender”, we should change those words what we really mean, “one tenth to Jesus I surrender, one tenth to Him I freely give.”

Is that how it is? I mean are we serious about giving God everything is everything? Does everything you have belong to him? Do all your plans belong to him? So it’s a daily matter, you’ve got to Surrender all your plans to Him, to be carried out or 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. {SC 70.1} That is what will change your prayer life.

Then the awesome things that we should pray for, and I’m not going to suggest you take this all down if you taking notes, but just look at the kinds of things that she mentions we should pray for: God's promises, we can pray for necessities, we can pray for God's mission in the church, the Holy Spirit, wisdom and understanding, God 's will and purpose to be done, we should pray for an understanding of the times, we should pray that we should consider how our characters need to change, we should be confessing, we should consider the needs of others.

As I look at this list I guess she’s just saying we should pray about everything, just pray about everything, you can pray about everything. God has something for you to pray for. Most of us are challenged with I don’t know what to pray for, you know I prayed for Uncle Tom already five times, and what else do I pray for? Here’s the thing, you have so much to pray for. You should be able to spend hours in prayer. We don’t because we don’t understand that prayer is about everything in our lives.

Now there are some conditions for prayer to be powerful and this is taken from the book Steps to Christ. I'm just going to give you some of the conditions.

Number 1: The heart must be open to the Spirit’s influence, {SC 95.1} have you ever tried to pray when your heart was closed? Not very effective was it? He’ll open it, so then your first prayer needs to be God open my heart, my heart is closed, I’m angry, I’m resentful right now, open my heart, and that becomes your prayer. So you better stop at that point before you go on, absolutely.

Secondly if we cling to any known sin, the Lord will not hear us {SC 95.3}. Now that was tough for me, I’m like ‘Lord I’ve got a whole bunch of sins, does that mean you're not hearing me?’ But I realized that what it means is this, that when we cling to a sin we are effectively breaking communication with God. So what I have to do, again, I have to take it to God. ‘God I don't want to let go of this thing, help me.’ And as I surrender it, as I let it go, then my prayer life starts to change because that's been a block.

The same thing happens in my relationship with my wife, you know let’s say there is something I'm holding on my heart, she’s asked me to do something and I haven't done it. Every time I talk with her, it’s just hanging in the air. Any of you had this with one of your friends? There’s just that uncomfortable thing, you haven't talked about, it’s hanging there and it's just uncomfortable.

What you do about it? Are you going to say, ‘why won’t you talk to me?’ No, you’re going to deal with the issue. You’re going to say, ‘it’s not the other person’s fault.’ You’re just going to deal with the issue and give up whatever that thing is between you and God.

Another element of prevailing prayer is faith. {SC 96.1} So if you want to have your prayers answered, you do have to believe that God can answer that prayer. Amen? ‘God, if you can, it would be nice if you could help me with my anger problem, if you can.’ That’s not going to be an answered prayer, you have to believe that he can.

She says we must come to God, feeling helpless and dependent, {SC 96.3} So those who are arrogant, I cringe when I hear people praying these impressive prayers, like they think God is impressed by their eloquence. When they start praying you know, ‘Oh God, you who are the ruler of the universe, oh God, you who contain the atoms, and are able to change things from one condition to another, you who have physics under your control and you can deal with quarks and with atoms, oh God’. I’m like is he impressed by that? Does he go oh, wow, that’s really impressive, I better answer that prayer. No, you come to him going, ‘I don’t know what I’m saying, I’m helpless, I’m dependent, God just help me.’ There’s a great book by Al Halispe (sic) where he says, “the more helpless you are, the stronger your faith” and that's what makes it different, because you’re dependent on God, it’s not dependent on yourself. I also love the illustration by Tony Campoli who says, ‘just imagine you're a teenage son coming to your dad and saying, ‘oh dad, you who doest supply my every need, you who doest give me my pocket money in due season, I beg thee, I pray thee, lend me the car’. Why would your dad not be impressed with that? He’s like where did you get King James version-y young man? You know if you want the car, we’re going to talk about it. And that's what God wants us to be, that kind of relationship with the Father. We are helpless, we are dependent, he is not impressed with our words.

Yes, that's a good thing, to praise God for something he's done helps to remind you that you didn't do it, and that puts you in the right frame of reference.

Some other things, we should have a spirit of love and forgiveness in our own hearts. {SC 97.1} It is not that again, that God can’t hear you if you don't have love and forgiveness, but you better deal with that first before you go on with your prayer, and say ‘God, you know right now I don't have a spirit of love and forgiveness in my heart.’

Then this one was interesting to me. There is necessity for diligence in prayer; {SC 98.1} I thought why does God need me to keep saying it over and over? I mean, ‘God why do you need me to keep going back to you again and again to ask for the same things? It just doesn't make sense to me, why do I have to persevere and pray, didn’t you hear me the first time?’ And then God kind of whispers back ‘yes, the problem is, you weren’t listening’. You see perseverance in prayer is not to change God's mind, it’s to change my heart. The more I learn to pray, the more I learn to depend that the answer that’s coming is not dependent on me, it’s dependent on God.

Don’t be like the guy who was driving around looking for parking by the bank, and he said, ‘all right dear God, you know I haven’t been to church recently but I really need a parking right outside the bank here, so if you can give me a parking outside the bank, I promise I’ll be back in church.’ Wouldn’t you know a parking opens up and he says ‘don't worry Lord, I found one.’

You can’t go to God with just these quick prayers, he wants you to really wrestle with him so that you understand your own heart, and that's why we need diligence in prayer.

Then she says we must not neglect secret prayer, {SC 98.2} because that's where God reveals our heart to us in a way that he can't do corporately. So all of these change us in such a way that we are prepared for God's answer. When God says wait, it’s because we are not ready.

I like this little quotation, “Lord it’s prayer time, if you have anything to say to me make it quick because it's also bed time”.

Why are our prayers ineffective? Because of how and where we choose to pray. Can we be honest here now? The reason why we don't pray effectively is because we have not created space in the best part of our day for God to speak to us. So if we really want to hear God, we have to make it at a time when we are most awake, it should be our most important appointment of the day.

So I want to end here by asking you to spend the next five minutes praying that God will reveal his will to you. Praying that you will change. Praying that you will become all you need to be as a result of WYC this weekend. Just five minutes, spend time in prayer, cut out those other things and instead of going, ‘oh God make it quick because I’ve got to get out of here to my next seminar, I want you to just surrender your heart to Him, and make sure that prayer becomes a priority. Let’s pray, find a place, you’ve got five minutes, pour out your hearts, if you can’t make five minutes, I’ll be praying for you.

Father, I know we need to bring an end to this prayer time, but I pray that it will be the beginning of the journey of prayer. Too many of us have neglected to talk to you. So God become real to us. I pray that even though we're taking baby steps of time in our prayer life, that you can change us, you will change us, and help us to unlock that huge storehouse of your blessings, in Jesus name, Amen.

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