By Pastor Kevin Jackson
Did you know that 85% of people are not satisfied with their prayer life? I have been a local church pastor for fifteen years, and during that time I have seen the frustration and prayerlessness of people. The Bible has over 370 references to prayer and yet eight out of every ten believers are not satisfied with their prayer life.
Why does the chasm exist between believer’s obligation to pray and their actual prayer life?
In part, I think the chasm exists because of a fundamental misunderstanding about prayer. I believe people misunderstand this ordinary means of God’s grace. Prayer is not informing God about the details of your life. He already knows everything about your life. Prayer is also not a way to manipulate God. From my experience, I think that believing people are under the impression that if they ask God to do something He is obligated to do it. When God does not answer the way a person wants Him to answer, clearly there is a frustration that leads to prayerlessness.
A few years ago I wrote a book entitled, The Prayer of Jesus. In the book, I explored the prayer life of Jesus. Through my study I uncovered many of his prayer principles. One thing I learned from my investigation of Jesus’ prayer life is that prayer is a means to know God. Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God.” Believers must understand their first obligation in prayer is to know God. Proverbs 3:5-6 says “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.” The word knowledge can also be rendered know. So it would read, “in all your ways know God and he will make your paths straight.”
The second principle I learned from Jesus is that prayer is a spiritual exercise. Perhaps, this is one of the reasons people do not pray often; prayer is exercise. Just as a bodybuilder exercises his muscles, so the believer exercises his or her faith in the promises of God through the act of prayer.
There are also three hindrances that keep you from having the prayer life you’ve always wanted. These three hindrances are your mind, your ear, and your heart. When you sit down to pray does your mind ever wonder away? If so, you are normal! This wondering mind syndrome is an awful hindrance to our prayer life. We need a solution to overcome that hindrance in order to experience the peace of God in prayer.
Second, we also experience the deaf ear mentality. If we are honest, at times we wonder if God is even there. Does he hear our prayer? We must remind ourselves that sometimes He answers “Yes,” sometimes “No,” and at other times, “Wait, not yet.” This hindrance also must be overcome in order for us to experience the peace of God in prayer.
And lastly, the guilty heart syndrome. All humans are guilty. Your guilt will do one of two things to you: it will either drive you away from God or it will drive you to his son, Jesus. In order to overcome the hindrance of a guilty heart and experience the peace of God in prayer, we first have to admit our guilt. These three hindrances keep us from experiencing the prayer life we have always wanted.
Jesus does not intend for us to have a prayerless life. In fact, He said, “When you pray, pray like this…” in Matthew 6. In my book, The Prayer of Jesus I walk the reader through the petitions of the Lords model prayer. At each petition, we can find the peace and promises of God. Once we start meditating on these petitions and the subsequent passages of Scripture relative to these petitions, we began to see the big promises of God. We must adopt the method of Jesus for our prayer life if we are going to overcome hindrances and have the prayer life we’ve always wanted. Do not be in the 85% of people who are dissatisfied. Learn to pray like Jesus!
Kevin Jackson is a Gospel believer, hubby, daddy, and pastor at Grace Baptist Church in Grenada, MS, who loves to help people grow and develop spiritually. Contact Kevin Jackson: (662) 307-2616 or www.ordinarytheologian.org.