I've never been one to be at a loss for words. All of those quotes like, "she can talk to a brick wall..and probably get it to talk back" have been said to me. I try to make friends wherever I go, whether that be the barista at Starbucks or the girl who rings up my bill at Target. For me, I think it's fun to talk to total and complete strangers.
That being said, would you find it funny that I used to have a problem communicating with God? I mean, here I am chatting it up with the guy who's making my X-tra Hot Grande Non-fat Sugar-Free Cinnamon Dulce Latte (which some might deem the ultimate "diva drink") and I don't know what to say to the One to knows me better and loves me more than anyone. You do the math - it doesn't make sense, no matter how you cut it.
But it's true! I mean, what can I say to Him that He doesn't already know? Isn't he too busy with things that really matter to spend time listening to me go on about my life? Is there a time that's more convenient for Him? Do I need to make an appointment? Does he understand little words, or do I have to use big ones? These were all things that were very confusing to me. I was undoubtably a prayer wimp - infact, I may have even been the best prayer wimp. (Not that it's anything to brag about, but when you're as ridiculously competitive as I am, if you're going to be bad at something, in some warped way, it's better to be worse than everyone else.)
But I'm NOT a wimp, so I refused to let my prayer life label me as one. So I began asking prayer warriors for their advice. Mostly, I got some kind of response that resembled, "I just pray." Okay, so that's like Mariah Carey saying, "I just sing." That doesn't help me any! So throughout my spiritual journey, I've realized a few differences between prayer wimps and prayer warriors. We're going to spend the next few days focusing on our conversations with God.
Prayer WIMPS are spontaneous with their prayers, while Prayer WARRIORS are intentional in their prayer life. Choose a specific place to pray away from distractions so you can concentrate. Text message alerts and TV shows will ruin your conversation before it even starts. I've also found it helpful to pray at the same time every day. Make it part of your regular routine so it will becomes habit. Write it into your schedule and then treat it just like you would schedule lunch with a friend.
Prayer WIMPS pray under their breath or in their minds, while Prayer WARRIORS pray out loud. I can do quick prayers throughout my day in silence, but for extended periods of time, it's an all-expense paid trip to dreamland. When we pray out loud, we have to form intelligent sentences, and we are able to concentrate more on what we're praying about.
Prayer WIMPS pray for whatever requests they can remember, while Prayer WARRIORS have a list of prayer concerns in front of them so they can address everything to our Daddy. I had two closets in my room growing up. Well, okay, so one was a closet and the other one was a storage space that my parents just didn't need to use, so I adopted it as a second closet. But instead of putting my things in there, I kept all of my Bibles, my devotional books, pens and paper, a Sharpie, and lots of pillows and blankets. This was the place I went to pray and study His Word, away from all of the distractions. Because this closet was "mine," I decided to keep track of all of my prayer requests by writing them on the wall. When God would answer the prayer, I would scribble a date next to the request with the Sharpie. It was amazing to be able to go in that closet and look to see how faithful God had been in answering my prayers! (Note, the answer was not always yes, but He always answered!) Find a way that works for you to journal your prayer life so you can remember God's faithfulness and remember the things that you need to bring before Him.
Prayer WIMPS make "I'm too busy" excuses for not spending time in prayer, while Prayer WARIIORS redeem time for praying out of unused corners of their schedule. Instead of picking up your cell phone or screaming about traffic when you drive, spend that time talking with the Lord. (Contrary to popular belief, your eyes DON'T have to be shut while praying.) I already told you that I combine my running time with my prayer - and some of my best times with the Lord have been when I was pounding the pavement. I Thessalonians 5:17 teaches us to "pray without ceasing."
Prayer WIMPS only bring forth their requests, while Prayer WARRIORS make time to praise Him. thank Him, and meditate on Scripture. Don't let your prayers be consumed with "Do this" and "Give me." Reflect on what God has revealed to you in Scripture, and thank Him for what He is doing in your life. Don't ever miss the chance to praise Him for who He is, what He has done, and what He will do. (We're going to check out the prayer that Jesus taught the disciples to pray in Matthew 6 in detail tomorrow, but you can go ahead and look on your own.)
Prayer WIMPS are petrified at the thought of letting someone else in on their conversations with God, while Prayer Warriors know the strength that can come from praying with someone else. Granted, there are some prayers that can only be between you and God, but there will also be times when praying with another believer can make a huge impact. Plus, if you commit to meet with someone else on a regular basis to prayer, the accountability can help build consistency in your own prayer life. In Matthew 18:20 , Jesus says, "For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst."
Prayer WIMPS pray for comfort, while Prayer WARRIORS pray for challenge. How many times have you heard the words, "God, be with me in all that I do today." It's habit, right? Well, it's time for a change. When was the last time you asked God to give you an opportunity to share the gospel or to take you out of your comfort zone? Paul wrote in Colossians 4:3, "meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains." He's already in jail for preaching, and He's asking for me! Wow. If that doesn't humble you...
Prayer WIMPS only pray for their friends, while Prayer WARRIORS also pray for their enemies. And no, this does not include the prayer that they will fall off the face of the Earth or that their dad will be transferred to work at his company site in Siberia. Luke 6:28 says, "Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you."
Prayer WIMPS simply ask for forgiveness for sin, while Prayer WARRIORS ask to be delivered from all evil and temptation. I remember a friend I had in middle school. She would always "accidentally" tell someone things that I told her in confidence...but every time, she was SO sorry! (Forgive my sarcasm.) I know the Bible teaches to forgive, so I did, but I learned my lesson! After a few slips of her tongue and her apologies afterward, I didn't tell her anything that I didn't want the whole school to know. Do you think it's the same way with the sin we seem to always fall into with God? Do you think he ever gets disappointed with our countless apologies and longs for us to do something to fix the problem? II Corinthians 13:7 teaches, "Now I pray to God that you do no evil, not that we should appear approved, but that you should do what is honorable, though we may seem disqualified."
Prayer WIMPS are vague in their prayers, while Prayer WARRIORS are specific. If you were God, how would you answer the prayer request, "Bless all of the missionaries." Don't generalize God. Realize that He is a BIG God and can accomplish any task. You're not going to be too specific for Him - he knows every person and every situation that you will pray for BETTER than you do!
So there are a few guidelines for you as I am struggling to become a prayer warrior myself. Tomorrow, we're going to look at this in more detail, but go ahead and ask God to reveal something to you through His teaching in this passage. Many of you probably memorized the Lord's prayer as a child, so while we will look at that, I want you to examine Jesus' instruction that precedes the Lord's prayer.