The most powerful thing I can share with you is that prayer is a cyclic activity. When a piece of this cycle is missing, prayer tends to be laborious and powerless tedium instead of refreshing and empowering renewal. When the cycle is not followed in order, we find ourselves staring at the ceiling, wiping saliva as we awake from a refreshing nap, or monitoring the clock to make sure we have prayed long enough. What an unfortunate waste of time and opportunity.
For many, the first thing we do is kneel and start making requests from the “soulish” realm of physical and emotional need. We end up giving God our to-do list instead of experiencing powerful intercession with Him speaking to us. Imagine how you would feel if someone daily dropped a pile of dirty laundry at your feet without caring whether you said anything. This is the tail wagging the dog. Powerful prayers are initiated by the Holy Spirit and they are relational. Prayer is the love language of the Father to His son or daughter and never a memorized monologue spoken by rote. So what is the cycle of prayer? Be careful! I guarantee that reading this will revolutionize your prayer life.
PRAYER STARTS WHEN GOD SPEAKS
Remember when you were a child and you would ask your mother for some specific thing, like a pair of skates? Whenever she said yes, you immediately believed her, knew in your heart they were yours, and you thanked her for them. Then when you got the actual skates, you thanked her again.
This is the golden nugget of this blog. Let’s change the above scenario. Instead of you initiating a request from your mom for skates, she says, “I have some skates for you, but you must ask for them, first.” Has your mom ever done this with you before? This is our situation with God: In many instances, He speaks to us or prompts us in advance to know what to ask for. These promptings can be very subtle; however the Holy Spirit uses them to assist us in prayer. God preloads our prayers with His answers.
When we are clueless, the Holy Spirit prays for our unknown-but-needed requests, or for what we could not understand. Romans 8:26 states, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” And you thought you knew how to pray . . . right?
The Bible is God’s principal way of speaking to us. However, faith is not based on black and red letters on white pages, but by the Holy Spirit speaking directly to our hearts as we read. The Holy Spirit speaks new life into God’s word, making it relevant and reliable for our circumstances as we read the Bible. When God speaks to our hearts as we read or still ourselves to hear, this is called rhema (i.e., God speaking into our hearts His solution for our present circumstances).
Our most powerful petitions are based on His spoken word. The Bible says, “If you abide in me and my word (rhema) abide in you, you shall ask what you will and it shall be done unto you” (John 15:7 KJV). If we abide in Him (relationally) and the rhema He has spoken is active in us, we can ask for anything that He has said.
The word that God spoke 2,000 years ago is relevant today by His current speaking. These same words take on new impact and power in our experience as the Holy Spirit gives us fresh revelation. We may read an entire chapter and only one verse will speak to us. That one verse that leapt off the page is the rhema word that is necessary for the moment. That one verse that spoke to us is the voice of the Holy Spirit.
God has specific moments when He speaks to us, too. He not only speaks to me when I am reading the Bible, but God speaks to me when I am vacuuming, mowing the lawn, driving, or exercising on an elliptical machine at the YMCA while listening to Scriptures. These are moments when I am still in my thought and He can interact with me and impart His word. We all have these specific moments when God has our undivided attention. Identify your moment(s) so that you can be ready to hear and write down what He is saying.
Faith ignites our intercession. Jesus said to pray “Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven.” The only way we can effectively know His will is through rhema. God’s heavenly will already manifest in heaven can be active in our lives when we pray according to His word.
“Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word (rhema) of God” (Romans 10:17 KJV). Faith comes by hearing God’s voice each day. Praying fleshly prayers without rhema is like washing dirty clothes on a washboard in filthy water – the harder you work, the dirtier the clothes get and the more hapless the task becomes.
One of the most powerful things we can do before praying is to read the Bible, or listen to a sermon or Bible Study teaching that recently blessed us. We will have the basis for a genuine conversation with God sparked by curiosity. We will also know what to pray for and have the necessary trust to believe what we are asking for.
Note also that God sometimes speaks only one word. That one word is the key to more revelation as we ponder upon it. Have you ever had a time when a biblical name or word just popped into your head? Carefully study the name or the meaning of the word before praying.
HOW TO KNOW YOU GOT YOUR ANSWER
God’s rhema word never returns without its intended purpose fulfilled. A prayer request that matches God’s word cannot be returned void or unfulfilled. He answers us in a way that will give Him the most glory.
Isaiah 55:10-11 (NIV) states, “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word (rhema) that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”
The Holy Spirit bases His movements on God’s spoken word. He goes into operation to make what God said a reality after He speaks. The Bible says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering (waiting for God to speak) over the waters (chaos). And God said . . .” (Genesis 1:1-3 NIV). The Holy Spirit’s handiwork was manifest after hearing God speak what needed to be done. He hovers over our chaos waiting for us to pray what God has spoken to us.
One of the Holy Spirit’s principal assignments is to bring to our remembrance the things that Christ has spoken. John 14:26 (KJV) states, “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” Jesus clearly is telling us here that the Holy Spirit will assist us in prayer. Imagine how effective our prayers are when the Holy Spirit immediately goes into operation to make God’s rhema a reality in our lives.
OBJECTS MAY APPEAR LARGER THAN THEY ARE
When Jesus gave His model for praying (The Lord’s Prayer – Matthew 6:9-13), He tells us to start all prayer with worship. He taught His disciples to pray “hallowed be thy name” before bombarding heaven with requests. To hallow something is to render it sacred and to give praise and adoration. We offer up thanksgiving to magnify His name before asking Him to do anything. If faith ignites intercession, then worship is gasoline to our faith.
No doubt all of us have looked through a magnifying lens. The object is not larger, but it appears larger than life. Praise does not make God any bigger, but it helps us to see Him larger than our circumstances. We magnify the Lord after faith is birth within us. Worship is to God but really for us. It is our magnifying lens to make God appear larger to us than He is at the present moment. It enlarges God way beyond our problem and shrinks our worries and fears.
NOW I HAVE IT
After praying, believe that you have received the requested petition. Jesus said, “Therefore I say unto you, what things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them” (Mark 11:24). Faith can only work in the present. Hope works in the future. Instead of hoping for the answer to our prayer, we must believe the moment we ask. When we ask, we receive at the time of our petition. The basis for our asking is always in the present. The devil is going to resist us every step of the way, but we must persist in our intercession and faith in God. Is there anything too hard for God? Imagine the possibilities!
The Cycle of Prayer.