Originally posted on Dec 8th, 2014
Prayer is one thing that everybody assumes they understand, but in reality, it is ignorance of true prayer that keeps believers in bondage, never realizing who they really are and what they really can do for the Kingdom of G-d.
There is a lot of teaching on prayer, but most have combined some sort of religious overtones with Christian Animism into an amalgam that is nether Christian or Biblical. Most of the sermons on prayer tend to focus on ether a formula on how to get what you want from G-d or how to be a humble enough to … wait for it … get what you want from G-d. Teaching and preaching this kind of message about prayer is very popular, but it has nothing to do with the real essence of prayer.
Prayer, real prayer, is two-way conduit that not only transmits communication between us and G-d, but it also is a ‘power cord’ that keeps us fully charged with the same breath of life given to Adam when he was created. If you look at it this way, as our lifeline, you’ll understand 1 Thessalonians 5:17 which says, “Pray without ceasing.”, and you will better appreciate Matthew 26:41 that states, “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed [is] willing, but the flesh [is] weak.”
Beating Back The Flesh
The very first obstacle you will face when learning to pray is the flesh, which is a Christian term for human nature. The flesh is used to being in control, and the mind is used to being free to think about anything and everything without a filter.
When you try to pray your mind will wonder and your body will rebel. If you sit on the floor you will get uncomfortable, if you lay down you’ll get sleepy. If you stand you’ll find you’re focusing more on standing than praying. The key is to fight the battles you can win first, not the battles that present themselves and pretend to block your way.
The flesh must be overcome to move on to the next stage of prayer, walking in the Spirit. The problem is the flesh likes to crawl off the alter of sacrifice, so we must be diligent in keeping our old nature at bay. The hardest thing, by far, is disciplining the mind, but it is not the first thing you must overcome.
The first thing that you must overcome is your own heart. The very first commandment G-d gave to Israel (and by extension to us) is found in Deuteronomy 6:5, “And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” We must first give up our own heart, submitting our hopes, dreams, desires, and innermost thoughts to G-d’s Will first. We don’t do this to get something out of it, rather we do it because we love Him who first loved us.
Once the heart is in the right place, once selfishness and pride are beat back and submission to G-d’s Will and our love for Him (or at least what He has done for us) is now given forefront, then we can enter into prayer knowing you heart is, at least for now, in the right place.
Taking Back Your Mind
The next battle we face could be one of the most difficult parts of learning to pray, but the rewards and benefits extend into every area of Christian life. Having a disciplined mind that can filter and block out distraction in whatever form it may take is a freedom unlike any other. It puts our mind in a position to receive from the Almighty. This is the most important goal in prayer, being able to both talk to G-d and hear what He has to say. When thoughts are cluttered and G-d does speak you’ll have a hard time figuring out if it was G-d, yourself, or something else trying to confuse you. An undisciplined mind makes it very hard to hear from G-d.
An undisciplined mind and an unruly thought life is where false prophecies, incorrect direction, and selfish justification all have their roots. If we can’t really tell when G-d is speaking to us, then we have to pick and choose, justifying the choice with our own understanding and feelings. When our feelings get involved we tend to focus on what feels good rather than what is good. When we use our own understanding, we make decisions without all the information. The world runs on ‘best guesses’, but G-d’s Kingdom does not. If you are guessing and filling in the blanks logically you just might be doing more harm than good, and this happens more often than not.
They key is this: learning how to tell where a thought comes from in the first place. Think of it like this, when you were two years old your parents could get you to think about something even when you didn’t want to. Your parents could say one word, or give you a look, or place something in front of you and it would completely take over your life, your mind, and your hopes and dreams. The devil can do the same thing to us, but most people don’t realize it has a distinctive signature that can be recognized.
The way to know when the devil is trying to drop a thought into your mind is it will come from left field. It’ll be something that will ‘bump’ your mind and interrupt the flow of your thoughts. The reason for this is the devil can’t read your mind. He can read your body, your mood, and deduct what you are most likely thinking in any given situation, but if your innermost thoughts are disciplined you will be able to tell when something is trying to ‘nudge’ you in a different direction.
Now, when G-d talks to your mind it will go right along with the flow like a conversation would. It will have a different felling and often will have different information than you were thinking about in the first place. When G-d speaks to our minds He isn’t rude and it is always exactly what we need to hear, even if it isn’t the answer we wanted. The sheep know the voice of the shepherd. Paying attention and being ready for G-d to speak is our part, the rest is up to Him.
Walking in The Spirit
Once you start to communicate with the Almighty prayer starts to take on a new life and direction. It starts to lead you instead of you leading it. What is happening is you are starting to take your first steps in the Spirit. This is when your relationship with Yeshua (Jesus) really starts to grow. This is also when the flesh starts to die.
When the devil starts to see you are growing out of the box he put around you he will start trying to cram you back in that box. You’ll find your mind struggling with thoughts you never had before. You’ll have problems getting the time to pray, and you’ll start having people show up with problems and distractions that literally tare you away from prayer. This is when it starts to get interesting, this is when it starts to get fun.
This is when 1 Thessalonians 5:17 which says, “Pray without ceasing”, starts to come into play. What happens when a person starts to walk in the Spirit is they begin to submit their mind, body, and will to G-d continually and an open line of two-way communication will start to be established with G-d. This is what walking in the Spirit is all about, an open line of communication so that you can be guided and directed by G-d in real time, moment by moment. When we begin to walk in the Spirit it is at this point in our walk with the L-rd that we can start to minister to others effectively. No longer are we relying on our own ‘best guess’, but instead we are guided directly by the Holy Spirit. This is the goal, this is when prayer becomes a way of life instead of a religious act.
Again, I must stress, if we expect to start communicating with our Creator we must first put the flesh on the alter and walk in righteousness unto holiness. We don’t present ourselves to the King of Kings in dirty cloths and with unwashed faces, and if we expect G-d to speak to us we must be presentable and prepared for Him to visit, for our G-d to manifest Himself to us and through us.
When a believer learns how to walk in the Spirit something else starts to happen to their friends, family, church, and everyone else around them. The believer who is walking in the Spirit becomes a lightning rod to everyone around them, both receiving and sending spiritual bolts to and from the path of least resistance. Also, you become a target of attacks orchestrated by the devil through people who are not filled with and submitted to the Spirit of G-d. This is the manifestation of Matthew 10:34, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.”
What happens is the living Word of G-d starts to dwell inside us and comes out of us as we submit to and walk in the Sprint. We become living spiritual swords, and this makes people uncomfortable. We start to effect people in a very deep and intimate way. Some people welcome this, others will fight it, and yet others will run away. This is normal, and this is exactly how people reacted to Yeshua (Jesus) and the Apostles 2,000 years ago.
Hebrews 4:12 tells us, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
This is what starts to happen when we begin to walk in the Spirit. This is normal, and this needs to be expected.
The kind of prayer that most believers are familiar with is just the beginning of our walk with the L-rd. Praying with our mind and mouth is just one step in the right direction, but learning to walk in the Spirit with a continually open two-way communication line to our L-rd and Savior is the goal. When we learn to walk in the Spirit the devil loses power over us, sin loses power over us, and man loses power over us. When we learn to walk in the Spirit we learn what freedom really is, and we learn that Matthew 19:26 is true, “But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.”
Without prayer we cannot grow, and without growth we cannot learn to walk in the Spirit. So, take time, regular time, to pray and seek the face of our L-rd and Savior. If you take the time, He will take your hand. If you stand and walk in His ways, He will walk beside you. If you walk in the Spirit, He will direct your every step.
James 4:8, “Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.”
James 4:10, “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.”