Everything that is successful usually has a strategy. What I mean is that for us to have any realistic expectations for an endeavor to be even remotely successful, we need to have a strategy. We need to have a plan.
We would not expect to start a new business without a strategy. We have a strategy for how we raise our children, how we work in our careers, how we run our finances, and for anything and everything that we consider important. If we want to succeed in it—we have a plan of action or a strategy for it.
If the above is true, and it is, why don’t we have a strategy for prayer? Why don’t we have a strategy for the most important activity that we can participate in? Why don’t we have an action plan for our prayer life?
When Jesus’ disciples asked Him to teach them how to pray, He gave them this prayer: “Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name, Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our sins as we forgive those who have sinned against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for Thine is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory, forever. Amen!” Now this is not just a prayer, but it is a divine strategy to make sure that we are successful in prayer.
When we look at this prayer as our model for strategy in prayer, what we will have to admit is that we have not done a very good job, for the most part, of being successful. Here are a few glaring points that prove the validity of the previous statement:
Our prayers should begin and end with a focus on God, who He is and what He can do. This prayer begins with acknowledging that God is our Father through both creation and, as believers, through spiritual rebirth. We are reminded that He resides in heaven and that He is holy. We come to Him on His agenda and not on ours, and our first desire is that His Kingdom will be advanced and His will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. This prayer ends by declaring that all kingship, power, and glory belong to Him, not just for now, but forever and ever.
More than half of our prayer time should consist of us exalting God. We should spend most of our time in prayer telling Him who He is to us. Not because He needs to know, but because we need to know and be reminded of His greatness. We need to spend the majority of our prayer time telling God about His greatness because heaven needs to know we know, hell shudders when it knows we know, and most importantly when we know the greatness of our God, we are confident to walk in obedience to His word.
A third of our time in prayer should focus on our spiritual needs. We should confess our sins and ask God to forgive us. To not just forgive us, but to help us to forgive others. And to help us to overcome temptation. These are all spiritual things. We should ask God to manifest in our lives the promises of a spiritually transformed life. We can ask Him with confidence to have a spirit of harmony, unity, forgiveness, reconciliation, and love for others that are not like us, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. We must spend time evaluating our spiritual needs and petitioning the throne of God to meet those needs. This is significant and much needed.
Only 10 percent of our prayer time is to focus on our material needs.
The benefits of following the above strategy in prayer are legion. The biggest benefit for the disciple of Jesus Christ is that they will have spiritual strength during adversity. Adversity comes to mock our commitment to Christ, and it is during adversity that we prove whether we are really authentic children of God or not. The moment that we contemplate obedience—adversity begins to reveal itself. How do we typically handle adversity? My experience is that even most believers start out with a non-biblical approach. We seldom start by applying biblical wisdom and principles. And as a result, we usually falter, fall, or fail. We fail because we have not utilized the above strategy in prayer. We fail because we don’t have any confidence in who our God is and the faithfulness of His word. We fail because we have not asked God for the spiritual resources to overcome our challenges, prior to encountering those challenges.
The truth is that the very thought of obedience brings spiritual pressure. Right now, think about something that you know you need to change to align your behavior with God’s will for your life. Do you feel the pressure not to change? Do you hear the voice telling you all the reasons why you shouldn’t and can’t? The thought of obedience and the pressures that it brings makes us tremble. I declare that we tremble at the wrong things.
In and of itself, there is nothing wrong with trembling. But we cannot allow trembling to prevent our obedience. Tremble, but be right. Tremble, but walk in obedience to Jesus Christ. We must tremble at the right things. We must tremble at the thought of who God is. We must tremble at His Presence and at His Word. We must tremble at the thought of displeasing Him.
I encourage you today to pray the way that Jesus taught us to pray. Pray with a heavenly strategy. Pray that you will understand what Christ wants you to do and that when you understand, you will not hesitate to do it. I encourage you to begin your divine prayer strategy today.
Anthony Collins is the senior pastor of The House of Worship at 190 Manhattan Avenue in Oak Ridge. He is also the author of two books available through local bookstores and at www.TonyCollinsMinistries.com. For more information, go to www.thehouseofworship.com.