I learned to pray as a toddler at my father’s knee. Twice daily, our family read the Bible together and took turns praying—my parents in King James English, which I attempted to emulate. I remember the first time I returned home from college and tentatively prayed at family devotions, dropping the “thees” and “thous” of my childhood. I wondered if my parents would approve of my casual intimacy with the Creator.
Over the years I’ve read numerous books on prayer, including one that examined every prayer in the Bible. One book stood out to me more than all the others, however, because it came from the humble heart of someone who did more than study prayer. He practiced it. Here are some of my favorite quotes from A Journey into Victorious Praying, by Bill Thrasher. I highly recommend you get your own copy and begin your journey into the mysteries of the relationship with the Divine.
No one ever just decides to be a prayer warrior. God does something in a life that makes the person sense this need of God (p. 29).
I think this is true. My deepest prayers came at a time of my deepest need.
If you will take your temptations and turn them into conversations with God, you will learn to talk to God from your heart. . . . Temptations are an appeal to meet righteous needs in an unrighteous way to meet the longing your temptation has stirred (p. 30).
Again, this rings true to my experience. I could write a book on this one!
Martin Luther said, “Prayer is not a performance but climbing up to the heart of God” (p. 43).
For years, prayer for me was merely a checklist of spiritual disciplines. Relationship sheds the “shoulds.”
True spiritual fervency and compassion is a work of the Holy Spirit. We cannot work this up on our own strength (p. 44).
I tried my own strength. It didn’t work. I was told I should have compassion for the lost, and so, feeling guilty, I tried to drum up some feelings. Instead, God gave me compassion for those who hurt.
True prayer starts with God and the prayer burden He places on our hearts (p. 52). We aren’t called to pray for every request with the same intensity. God will not give any of us every prayer burden (p. 54).
Whew! My soul relaxes with these thoughts. Though I often pray for our leaders in government, for example, they are not a burden on my heart. Give me the name of an MK who’s hurting, however, and immediately my lips move in supplication.
I ask the Lord to bring to mind what He wants me to pray for. Sometimes when I ask, nothing comes to mind. Maybe He’s just calling me to silence (p. 55).
Once more, the “shoulds” in my head dissolve. I like contemplative silence.
Ask God to deliver you from anything that is hindering you from praying your heart to God.
It was only after relinquishing my tight self-control, my unforgiving heart, my anger, and my bitterness that I found true peace, resting in God’s presence. He always feels near now instead of far away.
Thrasher suggests that God is capable of taking my feeble prayer and interpreting my desires and deep longings and motivations.
Sometimes coming up with the right words feels like a chore. Sometimes I pray with pictures, sometimes without words at all. He knows my heart.
When we pray a specific prayer and God does not grant it, “could it be that it is because God is desiring to grant you an even deeper longing and desire of your heart?” (p. 60).
Ex: Augustine, a leader in the early church, lived a sensual lifestyle in his early years. When he planned to go to Rome, his mother prayed, “O Lord, do not let him go to Rome because he will only get into further debauchery.” God did let him go to Rome. But it was there that he was converted. “The Spirit of God pled the deeper desire of the mother for his spiritual well-being, and God answered her heart.”
This story has stayed with me, reminding me that God is bigger than my feeble attempts at prayer.
You don’t “spend” time with God. You “invest” it. Time alone with Him can be one of the greatest time savers of your life (p. 114).
How true. Going to God first with a concern and working through my angst before speaking to someone has saved me hours of mop-up after a wrong response.
Prayer is not attempting to get our will done in heaven but His will done on earth (p.171).
I would love to hear about your experiences in your journey to victorious praying.