Prayer carries us to the holy place, to the presence of God in the holy of holies where our vision becomes clear once more, and any cloud of doubt or fear melts away.
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)
I have an awesome friend and prayer partner with whom I have prayed for many years. Despite my moving to the other side of the world, we still pray together on the phone when we can, or when one of us is in need, and the Lord continues to bless our prayer relationship across the miles. Recently, on one of our transatlantic prayer calls, my friend mentioned that when we pray together, it “stirs her to prayer” even more. To my mind, there is nothing more important than to stir the heart to prayer. Prayer is not only our relationship with God, but the best tool we have for the spiritual life! I assured her that the same is true for me when praying with her!
Her comment got me thinking about prayer and stirring in general. People stir up many things in life! Some stir conflict, gossip and drama. Others stir encouragement, comfort and hope. What do we stir up in others, or in our own life? Imagine how different life would be if more people stirred up prayer! If there were more “prayer stirrers”! How would that affect families, the workplace, schools and even churches?
I think stirring starts with passion. Consider the apostle Paul’s words to Greek believers in 2 Corinthians 9:2. “For I know how eager you are to help…In fact, it was your enthusiasm (a.k.a. passion!) that stirred up many of the Macedonian believers to begin giving.” (Brackets and italics mine)
Consider Jesus, who was not only a prayer stirrer, but a faith stirrer, and a Kingdom stirrer! He was passionate about the Kingdom he had come to proclaim and equally passionate about anything that hindered its reign, such as injustice (“Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these (the hungry, the naked, the sick and imprisoned) you did not do for me.” Matthew 25:45); irreverence (“It is written”, he said to them, ‘“My house will be called a house of prayer”, but you are making it a den of robbers’ Matthew 21:13), and hypocrisy (“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs…beautiful on the outside but on the inside..full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean.” Matthew 23:27).
He was also passionate about faith. Matthew 8:10 describes how Jesus was “amazed” and marvelled at the faith of the centurion who asked him for healing for his paralysed servant. Perhaps most of all, he was passionate about prayer. Luke 6:12 describes how he spent all night in the hills praying. All night! That is passion! In all the examples above, Jesus created a stir because he felt so fervently about these things!
How then do we develop a similar fervency?
I think for us it starts with our experience. It starts when we get a taste for it. When we are inspired. Do you have a hobby, a sport, a piece of music or a person that you love? If you love it, you are probably passionate about it, (or him or her!) But it wasn’t always that way. You had to take the first step and try it, or listen to it, or say hello to him or her.
I love prayer. I am not an expert pray-er by any means! In fact, I struggle to pray in front of people at church and have to have everything written in front of me! But in my early twenties, I experienced the presence of God in the midst of prayer for the first time in a very tangible way. Once you have tasted the Lord, and experienced his presence in a significant way, there is no going back. I love spending time in his presence. I love to pray alone, and I love to pray with others. Prayer carries us to the holy place, to the presence of God in the holy of holies where our vision becomes clear once more and any cloud of doubt or fear melts away. As we gaze upon him, the world falls away for a moment. We see him. We hear him. We communicate spirit to Spirit. Our words are few and sometimes not even needed. He knows. He has heard. We sense that before we even called, he answered. This is the most precious of moments! One does not need a prayer partner to enter into this holy place, but often when we pray together, we are so often taken there in greater depths! How precious is fellowship!
How do we pray? There is no right or wrong way to pray because it is simply a relationship with God. All we have to do is take some time with him and talk! For those who like guidelines, Jesus did give us a ‘recipe’ of sorts in the form of the Lord’s prayer (Matthew 6 : 9-13) But you don’t have to stick word for word to the recipe. (I never do when baking or praying!) Be creative! Prayer is simply talking to God and sharing your heart with him, and just so you know, God can’t wait to hear from you! He LOVES to hear from his children just as you love to hear from yours if you have them. You can add any kind of ingredients to prayer! Throw in your thanks, your praise, your needs, your desires, your questions, your doubts, your regrets.
If you struggle to find words to pray, you could try praying the Psalms. Read them and make them your prayer. Music also stimulates prayer. I often use worship music or instrumental music. Once in an Anglican church service, I used a beautiful instrumental piece called “The Inner Light” from “Star Trek, The Next Generation” as background music as I read scripture verses as part of a meditation. Many people told me afterwards how moved they were by the experience and how they felt God speak to them through the words and music. None of them ever knew that the score was from Star Trek! God can use anything to speak to us! I also have Christmas music that quite literally brings me to my knees in worship because it calls me back to that place of holiness and majesty, the very throne room of God!
Take time to pray, turn away from distractions such as your phone, social media and anything that stirs up other things! Practice and imagine being in the presence of God. Take some time to be still and just listen. Read God’s word. Remind yourself of who he is, and who you are. In the Bible, James 4:8 says, “Come near to God and he will come near to you.” Whether you make a set time for prayer every day or get into the habit of having an open line to God 24/7, I promise you will be stirred by God’s Spirit and develop a passion for prayer!
If we can stir one another to prayer and pray not just for each other and our families, but for our leaders, for and within our schools, our workplaces, our churches, and our nations, imagine how life changing that would be! How the world needs to be stirred to prayer once more!
Prayer: Father God, thank you for the gift of prayer and relationship with you. Thank you for your passion for us and your longing to hear from us! Stir our hearts to prayer and infuse us with a desire to spend more time with you. Draw us into the holy place where we might feel your presence more keenly and see your heart. Teach us to pray Lord and to hear your voice more clearly as we see through your eyes. Show us creative ways to draw near to you, whether through music or your Word, or through the beauty of creation. Give us a new fervour to pray for each other, for our families, our schools and our nations. Let a prayer revolution begin in Jesus Name! Amen.