These come from a great book about prayer by Steve Brown entitled Approaching God: How to Pray. My copy was published in 1996 by Moorings: Nashville, Tennessee. Mr. Brown writes with ease and makes you feel comfortable from the very beginning of the book. It’s almost like the two of you are sitting in an easy chair having a discussion like two friends might have. The book is full of information for people who have a desire to pray. It is sort of an inspirational book, but it is more than that.
Inspirational books seem to have too many stories of people who have overcome hard circumstances, but don’t offer any real direction that one might take. This book has the stories, it’s true, but Mr. Brown also gives information that will help get you on the road to praying and prayer, or help you stay on that road.
This list comes near the end of the book and will give you a taste of what you can find in the book. Steve Brown tells us that these suggestions have been around nearly as long as Christianity, and has served the community well:
1. ” … to see great power in prayer, there must be faith.” In Mark 11:22-24, Jesus emphasizes faith and belief in prayer. Faith is a gift from God. “If you are going to pray for something, pray first for faith.” See also Luke 17:5 and Mark 9:24.
2. “… faith doesn’t come quickly, it is a process.” If you have little faith, (as so many of us have), only little things can be accomplished. But if you have faith the size of a mountain, then you can move the mountain through prayer. Here’s a tip for increasing faith: Ask God to work in your own life, first, to be a little kinder, or gentler, to have more grace for people that irritate you, to be a better parent, and so forth. As you see God working in you and answering those prayers, you will gain the faith that will allow you to move bigger mountains.
3. ” … effective prayer is always within the parameters of God’s will.” Read 1 John 5:14-15 and take special note of the phrase: ” … that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” How do we know His will? It is revealed in the Bible. I can give the short answer, though: if the request brings you on a closer walk with Him; if it is a request for more love toward those who persecute you; if is a request that benefits another, then God’s answer will be in the affirmative.
4. “… effective prayers are specific.” Tell God what you need, what you desire, what your afraid of and what your concerns are. Be specific and detailed. See James 4:2.
5. “… remember that God is God and He knows better than you what is needed.” We may think we know what is best for us, but we only have the view from a small window looking out on a brick wall across the ally. God sees the whole universe from a huge picture window that shows the past, present and future and all the possibilities.
6. “… know about the power of praise.”Praise has power – even when bad things happen. My own personal thoughts are that Satan and his minions can’t understand why we praise God when something bad happens to us – more than that, they can’t stand it and go running off! Praise should always be a part of every prayer.
7. “… be obedient (or, at least, want to be obedient) to what God tells you to do.” Obedience is a sign of your response to God’s love.
8. “… keep on praying.” Luke 18:1-8 is a parable about a woman who wouldn’t quit petitioning a judge for justice until she got it. We should likewise be persistent in our requests. Matthew 7:7-8 is a well-known passage and in the Greek, the words imply perseverance and frequency – in other words, it is an on-going action on our part.
9. “… don’t make demands, make requests.” God is God; He is not a vending machine.
10. “… God will take your prayers as seriously as you take your prayers.” If your prayers are not important to you, how can they be important to God? If you don’t make requests or are lackadaisical being obedient or praising or any of the other items listed above, do you think God is going to take you seriously? Would you take someone seriously if they were halfheartedly mumbling something about needing meal or a place to stay?
If you can, find a copy of this book and give it a read. If you have been wanting to begin a prayer life or want to take your prayer life a step further, this might be a good book for you. It is not a book full of theory and studies made by doctoral candidates or heads of ivy-league theological colleges. It is a book the lay-person can grab hold of and understand. It takes us from the very basics of prayer into deeper, more meditative and contemplative styles.
Here is a link to this book, Approaching God: How to Pray,on Amazon for this book if you would like to purchase it. I see there are about 16 copies that are new for about $5.00 and quite a few copies that are used for like a penny or something.
It’s easy to read and if you have any interest at all in starting a prayer life or going that extra step closer to God, I think you’ll like it.