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How to Pray

Friday, 08 April 2022 - 11 minutes to read

How to pray: Some causal notes from my experience on how to pray. Feel free to leave comments or suggesting changes.

Note: This is just a compilation of my own "lessons learned". Use with caution.

Introduction

  • All prayer is the means to fellowship with God. All prayer is born of him, and he is the ultimate reason and goal for prayer.
  • All prayer should be led by the Holy Spirit
    • Prayer led by the Holy Spirit and in God's presence flows easily and naturally; proceeds from one topic to the next in graceful succession; and is a joyful and delightful service.
    • In groups, prayer led by the Holy Spirit will be harmonious, each person contributing in turn, and will build towards the main point of the meeting. It's pretty cool to watch.
    • Prayer not led by the Holy Spirit is dry, dull, boring, empty, and more similar to a workout than anything else. It might be completely ineffectual.
  • There are largely three directions in prayer: Upwards, inwards, and outwards
    • Upwards is our prayer to God; praise, worship, seeking him and drawing near to him
    • Inwards is for ourselves; to see God's love working more in ourselves, to be broken down before him and dealing with the problems we're facing
      • See the section on praying in tongues; it's a real key here
      • Also, try to meditate on the word
    • Outwards is for the broken world around us; for God's love to touch it, and for his power to overcome it

Drawing near to God

  • Seeking God is the action; the presence of God is the reward
    • It takes time to enter into his presence
      • Sometimes an hour, sometimes a few minutes
      • The more often you seek God like this, the quicker you will enter in
      • See the section below on "Waiting for God"
    • If the presence of God isn't there - are you doing something wrong?
      • You could be under attack
        • Keep praying and worshipping until you break it
      • There could be hidden sin to deal with (is God telling you about something?)
        • Matt 5:23-24
      • Life could just be incredibly busy
        • Learning to clear your mind and letting go in prayer is hard
        • But it's essential
        • A lot of famous preachers have to pray for an hour to just clear their head and start hearing God
        • Try worshipping for a bit (see below)
  • Praise and worship is the easiest way to enter into the presence of God.
    • Make sure you're actually worshipping Him; not just singing songs about him or singing along to modern Christian music
      • Sing to him. Sing out how much you love him.
      • It's God's love language
    • There is a flow of the spirit in praise and worship
      • Initially, pick a worship song and brute-force your way in
      • As you enter into his presence, you'll become more sensitive to the flow of the spirit
        • Sometimes he wants to pray and intercede instead, or just talk - be open
      • There are songs that lift you up, right away - you'll feel it. When you're working with the flow, the presence grows stronger.
      • If this confuses you, just ignore it and sing to him. He loves it.
    • From praise and worship, there's usually a spiritual flow that moves into other areas (intercession, talking to God, preaching, etc etc)
      • Stay with the flow
      • The presence dips when you leave the flow
  • God the Father is the ultimate destination
    • He longs to spend time with you
      • Interesting parallel to "Mio, my Mio" by Astrid Lindgren
    • Jesus was there to redeem you, so you could stand next to him as his brother, and approach the Father as equal in standing
    • The Holy Spirit empowers you to draw into the presence of the Father

Waiting for God

  • Sometimes when you pray, it takes a while before you start "feeling" anything
    • When you persist in prayer anyway, it kills your flesh and trains your spirit
      • It's a bit like weightlifting. You get stronger over time if you push yourself.
    • Part of it is Jesus pulling you in deeper
  • After a while, his presence comes quicker, and eventually, his presence will be there immediately when you start praying
    • Times of not praying will put you back into this seeking-before-feeling time
    • Don't be discouraged; you're not being punished - keep seeking
      • A large part of being a Christian can be summed up in the words "keep seeking". Don't stop. God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him.
        • The reward is amazing. Kings and presidents will be green with envy.
  • Faith comes from hearing the word
    • While the written word is the foundation and the ultimate truth against which we verify each spoken word, it is really the "spoken word of God" that Paul refers to.
      • The rhema, not the logos
    • When God reveals his truth to you, and knowledge and understanding explodes in your mind, that's what we're after
    • It is easy to believe when God whispers in your ear "I am the Lord that healeth thee."

Praying in tongues

  • Praying in tongues is perfectly normal for a Christian and you should do it - more than you think
    • It is the easiest way to focus in prayer
    • It is the easiest way to break through your flesh and focus on God
  • Prayer in tongues
    • edifies you
    • focuses you
    • may seem like a waste of time, but it's not
    • is literally the Holy Spirit praying for you, within you, and through you
  • Pray in tongues more than you want (1 Cor 14:18)
  • Four modes of operation
    • Tongues for personal edification
      • it builds you up, and brings you deeper into God
      • it reveals God's truth to you
    • Tongues for interpretation
      • Basically works like two-stage prophecy
      • Be wary of public tongues without any interpretation, the enemy can operate in tongues as well
    • Tongues for intercession
      • Feels like a burden on you
      • When you lean into it and start interceding in tongues, it can become extremely powerful
        • Sometimes you will feel situations change and bonds breaking in the spirit as you pray
        • Keep interceding until there's a "release of joy"
        • Sometimes there will be several breakthroughs before the burden finally lifts
        • It is hard work, but so glorious when you break through
    • Tongues as a sign to the unbeliever
      • God uses you to speak a foreign language you don't know
      • Very rare, but intercredibly powerful as a testimony
  • There is never a wrong time to pray in tongues
    • But if you're around people, maybe do it quietly so you don't come across as a weirdo
    • But still listen to the Spirit and led him lead you. It can still become dry and dull.
  • Be respectful if there are people around you who don't agree with it

Meditation

  • Meditation is biblically sound (Jos 1:8)
    • Not some eastern philosophy
    • Meditating on the word is different from just reading or studying the word
  • Gross oversimplification: "Say this passage of scripture out loud 50 times."
    • Mutter it to yourself
    • Pray in tongues over it
    • Try to listen to the words more than breaking down the meaning of it
    • Let the Holy Spirit speak to you about what happens in the passage
  • Step by step, the Holy Spirit will open up the scripture passage to you
    • Words will start make sense, verses will open up, and He will start explaining them to you
  • It will anchor you in the word, guarding against spiritual flakiness

Listening to God

  • It takes experience to learn how to listen to God
    • But it's necessary
    • God expects it of us
    • Wisdom is a promise given to us so we can make good life decisions (Jas 1:5)
      • Ask him about important decisions
      • He will answer
  • If in doubt, pray for two things first
    • Ask the Holy spirit to open your ears, and shut down the flesh so you can hear Him clearly
    • Bind the enemy and forbid him to speak to you
  • Sometimes you need to set time aside to seek God until he answers
    • He is a rewarder of those who seek him diligently (Heb 11:6)
    • Set an evening aside and seek God
      • "I won't leave until I hear from you"
      • Pray in tongues quietly, keep a listening attitude
      • Keep pen and paper with you
      • Sometimes I've fallen asleep while doing this
        • Keep at it the next evening
  • Making a prayer map can be very useful
    • Like a mind-map, but for areas of prayer
    • As your questions come up, expand the mind-map
    • As God speaks, write in his words
    • When done, transfer the prayer map into a "what to do" list and/or "what God said" list
  • Even experienced people get things wrong sometimes; be cautious of what you hear and try it carefully
    • Don't feel bad
    • Try again
    • Be careful to listen to and weigh the input of others; I've seen people get caught up in their own relevations to the point where they run blindly off in a wrong direction
  • Also, don't listen to every spirit, but try things properly (1 Jn 4:1)
    • Any spirit or angel that testifies that Jesus is God, born in the flesh, crucified on the cross, and resurrected from the dead is from God
    • Any spirit or angel who gets really vague about that, is not from God

Praying for others

  • Everything done to others should be done in love.
    • The Father is love. Jesus is love. The Holy Spirit is love.
    • If you do not love the people around you, try to be quiet
    • If all you can do is condemn someone, please be quiet
  • If you're unsure of what you feel led to do, pray in tongues over it
    • If it's from God, the leading will get stronger
    • If it's not from God, the leading will weaken over the next few minutes
    • Keep in mind the Holy Spirit always leads, never pushes
      • There is a demon whose voice is very similar to that of the Holy Spirit
      • The discerning difference is that this strange voice will always push you and drive you
      • A lot of Christians get fooled, at least some of the time, by this voice
        • So did I, but praying in tongues helped me discern it more clearly
        • The temptation was actually to boost my own standing among others
  • You don't get to decide when the gifts or the anointing operates
    • It requires cooperation with the Holy Spirit
    • But the gift of prophecy is subject to the control of the prophet
      • Try not to disrupt, but let everything happen in order (1 Cor 14:40)
      • It is always appropriate to ask permission before prophesying or operating in a gift
  • If you prophesy over someone, make yourself available for questions afterward
    • One pastor left his business card so people could contact him with questions; I thought that was classy

Spiritual authority

  • There are tremendous weapons in the heavenly realms. These are accessible.
    • The best way to access them is not to seek them, but to seek God and spend time with him
    • God will teach you how to use them
    • It is awesome to behold heavenly artillery rounds drop in - at your guidance - and see them explode fortresses into bits
      • Like when Moses crossed through the Red Sea; or the walls of Jericho came down
        • Still for today. Not just history.
      • The impact will literally shake the earth. You will feel it.
      • The sound of it will travel outward from it (mostly as testimony)
  • The key is to walk on a word that God spoke to you
    • Every time a strong miracle happened in the bible, it's because God told someone to do something specific
    • Not the written word, a word specific to you, straight from God
    • Peter walked on water not because he "named it and claimed it", but because Jesus told him to
    • Jesus, as a human, was equally dependent on the leading of the Spirit
      • He didn't put mud on someone's eyes because he decided to do it, it was the Holy Spirit who told him
    • Moses got rebuked because he hit the rock with his staff again
      • God never does anything the same way twice. It's always different.
      • You need his spoken word for each situation
  • There is a place in God where judgement upon situations and people will become needed
    • It is to be handled extremely carefully and always, always as led by the Holy Spirit
      • It is far better not to judge
      • If you're not walking strongly in love, do not even think you can judge
      • Keep in mind, God asked us to "bless your enemies and pray for those who persecute you". Not once did he suggest we condemn them.
        • In fact, cursing and condemning people may be closer to witchcraft than prayer.
    • Always let the word cut into your heart before it cuts into others
      • It's a double-edged sword for a reason
    • When God judges, scary things can happen
      • People may get hurt or die
      • Things may burn down
      • Never, ever pray for people to get hurt or die, or for things to burn down
        • Again, bless your enemies. No cursing or condemning allowed. Love them.


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