Prayer, Plain and Simple

Prayer, Plain and Simple


Teaching What I Need to Learn

posted by nsymmonds

Hi, I’m Nicole Symmonds, the Prayer Editor here at Beliefnet.com, who has chosen to go on this journey with Mark Herringshaw of making “Prayer Plain and Simple”. Now let it be known that I am not the most eloquent pray-er. I am not even the most consistent pray-er. But what I am is a person with a heart for God and in that heart is a desire to communicate with my creator in an authentic way.

I’ve been a Christian all of my life and prayer still confounds me. There are moments when I pray and I feel so victorious and strengthened and then there are moments when my prayers feel inadequate. There are moments when I am excited about prayer and my mouth is just ready to speak to God and moments when the prayers just seem to dry up on my tongue and I have no choice but to just get up off my knees and concede defeat. And then there are those moments when I just don’t want to pray at all, because, to be honest, prayer is hard. But in the midst of these dark nights of the soul in prayer, I still understand it’s an important part of my relationship with God and I want desperately to be a student, better yet, a disciple of prayer.

At the heart of all of this is to strengthen my prayer life through the one gift I am certain God has given me, writing. My posts on this blog will largely serve as my discovering my prayer personality and letting it unfold before my eyes and yours. I hope to learn from Mark, from you, and even from myself as this journey starts. And I consider this post, my first prayer, “That right before my eyes and yours, God would grow in me the desire to cultivate a real relationship with him through prayer and that the benefit would not be to me alone, but to all of those who are desiring to speak to God in an authentic, plain, and simple way.”



  • Martin Luciano

    Hello Sister Nicole,
    I’m sorry that I had not read this on July 7th.
    I want to start out with a word of thanks for your humbleness and bravoury in openly stateing
    ‘” There are moments when I pray and I feel so victorious and strengthened and then there are moments when my prayers feel inadequate. There are moments when I am excited about prayer and my mouth is just ready to speak to God and moments when the prayers just seem to dry up on my tongue and I have no choice but to just get up off my knees and concede defeat. And then there are those moments when I just don’t want to pray at all, because, to be honest, prayer is hard.”
    I can not count the times I and many others felt that way. Let me share with you what
    God has shown me when I made this exact statement : the prayers just seem to dry up on my tongue and I have no choice but to just get up off my knees and concede defeat. then there are those moments when I just don’t want to pray at all, because, to be honest, prayer is hard.”
    DEFEAT Tolerated is FAITH Compromised’
    Sister Nicole, I have been there.
    What I’m about to share with you is not only to encourage you but also be conformation in what God has already shown to you these past weeks since this posting.
    In Luke 11 Jesus was praying, and after He finished one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John also taught his disciples.” Jewish people were very familiar with prayer. It was one of their great traditions, known and practiced since childhood. The disciples had by this time been with Jesus for about three years.
    They had already received much of the example and teaching of Jesus on prayer. In the more immediate context, these disciples had just newly returned from the “Limited Commission” in which 70 had been sent out to evangelize and to heal (Lk. 10). In a sense they were seasoned workers with God. Yet one of the disciples asked, “Lord, teach us to pray.” He felt a need to know more about praying. Notice that he included his fellow disciples in the request. “Teach us.” He knew that they too needed to learn prayer.
    The context tells us that Jesus had just been praying. Through the very depth of His praying the disciples recognized the shallowness of their own praying. His relationship with God was enough within itself to make them yearn for a similar relationship. Jesus had already taught about prayer early on in His ministry in the “Sermon on the Mount” (Mt. 6).
    That sermon was designed specifically for the disciples. Perhaps, as with so many other lessons, they had not really digested and absorbed it. And oh, how we feel the same way…. we seem so deficient, so inconsistent, so ineffective, so immature in prayer. We too plead with fervor, “Lord, teach us to pray.”
    THE IMPORTANCE OF PRAYER IN THE EXAMPLE OF JESUS
    That which so touched and motivated the disciples concerning prayer is that which we shall take as our theme: THE EXAMPLE OF JESUS IN PRAYER. There is no better way to learn prayer than to let the Lord Himself set the example for us and do the teaching. In a very true sense Jesus is the only Teacher to whom we should be listening (Mt. 23:8; Jn. 10:4, 8,6). As we trace the characteristics of Jesus’ prayer life, we will find and apply the PRINCIPLES OF PRAYER which were so effective for our Lord and for these disciples whom He trained.
    To Jesus prayer was more important than the air He breathed, the food He ate and the water He drank. As important as it is to sustain physical life, it is infinitely more important to sustain spiritual life. When Jesus had eaten no food for 40 days the impact of the hunger must have been almost overwhelming. His fleshly body was like our fleshly bodies. This seemed to Satan to be an opportunity worth exploiting. In effect he said to Jesus, “Here is a source of bread ready at hand. Just command that these stones become bread. ” Most of us, who have done without food for one or two days, would jump at the idea. “Food! After all, it is important to have the strength to keep alive, and to keep working.” But Jesus valued the spiritual far more! He knew the real source of life is not bread, but God and His word. “Man shall not live on bread alone,
    but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Mt. 4:4).
    SPIRITUAL SUSTENANCE
    One thing is supremely important – spiritual health and well-being.
    Communing with God is the very life-blood of the spiritual life. If we may liken the word of God to a Christian’s daily food, then we may perhaps liken prayer to a person’s oxygen. That is why “night and day we keep praying” (1 Thess. 3:10), and we are to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17). When we cease to pray we become like the deep sea diver who begins to run out of oxygen 1000 feet below the surface. We are like the astronaut out on a space walk who gets his oxygen hose twisted and constricted. Repairs must be made immediately.
    In these illustrations the diver without oxygen will eventually die physically. The astronaut without oxygen will eventually die physically. But the Christian without prayer will eventually die spiritually. Jesus thought that prayer was more important than much-needed sleep.
    OUR AIM
    Such was the seriousness with which Jesus viewed prayer. His attitude and practice reflect His full spiritual maturity. We fall very far short of that level of maturity. But as children of God who are growing up into the full likeness of Christ (Rom. 8:29; 2 Cor. 3:18; Eph. 4:13,15) we make it our aim to have the same kind of seriousness about prayer.
    We need to give up sleep, food, comfort (and certainly entertainment) rather than neglect our time alone with God in prayer. In regard to our willingness to suffer Peter said, “Christ left you an example for you to follow in His steps” (1 Pet. 2:21). If we follow in the steps of Jesus, very soon we will find that His foot prints give way to knee prints. If we really > want to follow Him we are going to have to go down often on our knees, just as He did. As the steps go further we will find places where the footprints and the knee prints disappear. Instead there will be the impress of the body prostrated on the ground. We will find the Savior’s face print etched into the ground. Persistence in following His steps must eventually lead us to our own Gethsemane
    According to Luke 11 one of Jesus’ disciples came to Him and said, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John also taught his disciples.” This disciple came to the best possible source for learning how to pray. John the Baptizer’s disciples had in John a great teacher. And yet John himself had said of Jesus. “I am not worthy to untie the thong of His sandal” (Jn. 1:27). If John was great,” how much greater was Jesus! This disciple who said “Lord, teach us to pray” may not have fully realized just how supremely qualified Jesus was to teach on the subject of prayer. John the Baptizer had said of Jesus, “He is of a higher rank than I, for He existed before me” (Jn. 1:36). John was not referring to physical age, because Jesus had been born six months after John. John was referring to Jesus’ pre-existence as God.
    (“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God,” Jn. 1:1).
    Previous to being born in the flesh, Jesus eternally enjoyed His position as one of the Godhead, the supreme Creator and Sustainer of all the universe. What does that imply concerning our study of prayer, and Jesus’ qualification to teach on it? Jesus, as an integral part of the Godhead, had for centuries been the One to whom men, women and children had offered their prayers. He had been on the receiving end of prayer. How could Jesus speak so authoritatively about what pleased or displeased God in prayer? Part of the answer is that He Himself, as God, had been pleased by the faith-filled prayers of godly individuals like Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Hannah, David and others. But then too, Jesus, as God, had been disgusted by the prayers of the hypocrites, the selfish, the harmful and the rebellious. Their prayers had risen up to Him as a foul stench. When He came to earth He was qualified, as “the Hearer of Prayer,” to show us how to pray. John the Baptizer was pointing out Jesus’ supreme qualification as God when he said,
    “The One who comes from heaven is above all. He testifies to what He has seen and heard” (Jn. 3:31-32).
    Jesus told us about what He Himself experienced in heaven. So He understood prayer completely from both sides, first from God’s side, and then from man’s side. This fact lends more weight to the things Jesus chose to stress about prayer. It is particularly meaningful in this lesson on secrecy.
    Why did Jesus seek privacy in prayer? This is not to say that there were no occasions when Jesus prayed with others present and hearing His prayers. But most of His prayers were deliberately made alone, in privacy.
    Why?
    Because prayer is a meeting with God. Prayer is talking with the heavenly Father. Prayer is not talking with people. Prayer is for God’s attention. In that sense it is only natural to want to be alone with God in prayer. If I want to talk to my wife, I do not invite all the neighbors to
    come and hear what we have to say to each other. In fact if our discussion is serious – and we have seen that prayer is serious – then my wife and I may even send the children out for a while. Without others there to distract us, we can concentrate much more on important things to be discussed. Many forget that prayer is really more of a private talk with God. For many people prayers are largely confined to things of a public nature: “grace” at meal times prayers at church services devotionals fellowships prayers with family members at bedtime. If the main time you have for prayer is when others are present you have missed the main point of prayer.
    GO INTO YOUR ROOM
    If your Christianity is to be genuine, if your relationship with God is to be truly personal, then as Jesus said, you will often find the time and place to be alone with God. You will go into your room, some private, secret place you share with God alone. You will “close the door,”
    meaning that you will shut out all other ears and eyes, shut out all distractions, and shut out all false motives about wanting to be seen and admired by others. There you will face Almighty God alone.
    (You will in any case be forced in death to meet God. How much better to pave the way with private meetings beforehand.) There, with reasons that are more likely to be pure, your prayer will be directed only to pleasing God and speaking with Him. There you will not feel so inhibited and self-conscious. You will be able to express your true feelings and needs, and listen more carefully in your heart to the answers from His word. From this time spent with your spiritual Father will grow a deeper friendship between you, a relationship which is real, living and growing.
    REWARD RESERVED FOR SECRET PRAYER
    Prayer done in secret leads to success. “Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” The first reward is being closer to the Father. From that flows renewed spiritual awareness and strength. A further reward is the truth that God really hears and acts upon such prayers. If we want to be more “spiritual,” and be more effective for good, here is the right place to start. Follow the example of Jesus in making more time and place for praying in secret!
    To sum up, private prayer will help you to have: purer motivation, better concentration,
    freer expression, answered requests, and a more personal relationship with God.:
    Let us resolve to be like Jesus in committing every aspect of our lives and ministry to the Father through prayer. Place into His strong hands every item, every step to be taken, every loved one, every struggle and every aspiration. We, like Jesus, will leave nothing to chance. Just how specific can we get?
    Philippians 4:6 tells us, Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God.
    ANYTHING that concerns you is to be brought to the Father. He does not look down on us because of our needs (Jas. 1:5). He welcomes every concern and is eager to help us with each one. Be specific in your prayer requests! And then remember This kind of prayer is much easier and quicker.to be specific in your heart-felt thanks for the Father’s generous responses!
    God Bless you and keep you and Makk strong in all you undertake for His Glory.
    I thank you both for being faithful servants in what God has already given, as Paul said; Fight the god fight of faith.
    HIGHWAY-STAR
    Over-the-Road Truckers Ministries
    Evangelist Martin Luciano
    email:waytothecross@yahoo.com

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