Developing a Prayer Life With God

Spending Time With God (Part 4)

How to Develop a Prayer Life Through Time With God
Spending Time With God by Danny Hodges. Image: © Calvary Chapel St. Petersburg

Continue with Part 4 of the booklet Spending Time With God by Pastor Danny Hodges of Calvary Chapel in St. Petersburg in Florida.

How to Develop Your Prayer Life Through Spending Time With God

Prayer is the second essential ingredient of fellowship with God. Prayer is simply talking to God. Through prayer, not only do we talk to God, but He talks to us. Jesus perfectly demonstrated what a prayer life should be like.

He often withdrew to lonely, solitary places and prayed.

Here are four practical suggestions regarding prayer that we find in the life of Jesus.

Find a Quiet Place

You're probably thinking, You haven't been to my house—there isn't one! Then find the quietest place you can. If it's possible for you to leave and go to a quiet place, do that. But be consistent. Find a place you can go to on a regular basis. In Mark 1:35, it says, "Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed." Notice, he went to a solitary place.

It is my conviction and my personal experience, that if we don't learn to hear God in the quiet place, we won't hear Him in the noise. I really believe that. We learn to hear Him in the solitude first, and as we hear Him in the quiet place, we will take Him with us into the day. And in time, as we mature, we'll learn to hear God's voice even in the noise.

But, it starts in the quiet place.

Always Include Thanksgiving

David wrote in Psalm 100:4, "Enter his gates with thanksgiving …" Notice it says "his gates." The gates were on the way to the palace. The gates were on the way to the king. Once we've found a quiet place, we start getting our minds set to have a meeting with the King.

As we come to the gates, we want to enter in with thanksgiving. Jesus was always giving thanks to the Father. Again and again throughout the gospels, we find the words, "and he gave thanks."

In my personal devotional life, the first thing I do is type a letter to God on my computer. I write down the date and begin, "Dear Father, thank You so much for a good night's sleep." If I didn't sleep well, I say, "Thank You for the rest You gave me," because He didn't have to give me any. I thank Him for a warm shower, because I've known how it feels to take a cold one! I thank Him for Honey Nut Cheerios. On the days that Honey Nut Cheerios aren't there, I thank Him for Raisin Bran—second best. I thank God these days for my computers, both in the office and at home. I type it out, "Lord, thank You for this computer." I thank God for my truck, especially when it's running.

There are things I thank God for these days that I never used to mention. I used to thank Him for all the big things—for my family, health, life, etc. But as time goes by, I find that I'm thanking Him more and more for the smallest things. We will always find something to thank God for. Paul said in Philippians 4:6, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." So, always include thanksgiving in your prayers.

Be Specific

When you pray, pray specifically. Don't just pray for things in general. For example, don't ask God to help sick people, but rather, pray for "John Smith" who is having open-heart surgery next Monday. Instead of praying for God to bless all the missionaries, pray for specific missionaries that you personally know or those that your local church supports.

Years ago, as a young Christian in college, I was on my way to South Carolina from Virginia to visit my family when my car died. I had a little blue Plymouth Cricket. Thank God they're not making those cars anymore! I was working two part-time jobs to help pay my tuition—one as a custodian, and the other painting houses. I really needed a car to get to and from my jobs. So, I earnestly prayed, "Lord, I'm having trouble. I need a car.

Please help me get another car."

While in college I also had the privilege of playing drums for a ministry team that did a lot of youth work in churches and high schools. Two weeks after my car broke down we were at a church in Maryland, and I was staying with a family from this particular church. We had ministered there over the weekend and we were in their Sunday night service, our last night in Maryland. When the service ended, the fellow I was staying with came up to me and said, "I hear you need a car."

A little surprised, I answered, "Yeah, I sure do." Somehow he had heard through my teammates that my car had died.

He said, "I have a car at my house that I'd like to give you. Listen, it's late tonight. You guys have been busy all weekend. I'm not going to let you drive it back to Virginia tonight. You're too tired. But the first chance you get, you come up here and get this car. It's yours."

I was speechless. I was pumped. I was psyched! I began thanking God that He had answered my prayers. It wasn't hard to be thankful at that moment. Then he told me what kind of car it was. It was a Plymouth Cricket—an orange Plymouth Cricket! My old car had been blue, and looking back, the color was the only thing I had liked about it. So, God began to teach me through that experience to pray specifically. If you're going to pray for a car, don't just pray for any car. Pray for the car you think you need. Be specific. Now, don't expect a brand new Mercedes (or whatever your favorite car might be) just because you prayed for one.

God doesn't always give you exactly what you ask for, but He will always meet your need.

    Pray Biblically

    Jesus gave us the pattern for prayer in Matthew 6:9-13:

    This, then, is how you should pray: "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one." (NIV)

      This is a biblical model for prayer, addressing the Father in reverence for His holiness, praying for His kingdom and His will to be done before asking for our needs to be met. When we learn to pray for what He wants, we find that we receive those things we ask for.

      As we begin to grow and mature in the Lord, our prayer life will mature also. As we spend regular time feasting on the Word of God, we will find many other prayers in the Scriptures that we can pray for ourselves and others. We will claim those prayers as our own, and as a result, begin to pray biblically. For instance, I mentioned this prayer earlier in Ephesians 1:17-18a, where Paul says:

      I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you... (NIV)

      Did you know I find myself praying that prayer for the members of our church? I pray that prayer for my wife.

      I pray it for my children. When Scripture says to pray for kings and all those in authority (1 Timothy 2:2), I find myself praying for our president and other government officials. When the Bible says to pray for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6), I find myself praying for the Lord to send lasting peace to Israel. And I have learned by spending time in the Word, that when I pray for the peace of Jerusalem, I'm praying for the only One who can bring peace to Jerusalem, and that's Jesus. I'm praying for Jesus to come. In praying these prayers, I am praying biblically.

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      Hodges, Pastor Danny. "Developing a Prayer Life With God." ThoughtCo, Dec. 17, 2016, thoughtco.com/spending-time-with-god-part-three-701253. Hodges, Pastor Danny. (2016, December 17). Developing a Prayer Life With God. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/spending-time-with-god-part-three-701253 Hodges, Pastor Danny. "Developing a Prayer Life With God." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/spending-time-with-god-part-three-701253 (accessed December 15, 2017).