[Normally, each month’s issue of The Traveler is only 3 pages. Last month, I began a two-part series about prayer. In order to conclude the series this month, this issue is 4 pages.]
Humans cannot “construct” any barriers that keep out, limit, or “block” prayer . . . except sin in our lives. And sin does not block our prayers; rather, sin in our lives causes us not to want to pray, and to attempt to avoid God.
No jails, no prisons, no dungeons, no forgotten places, no hospitals, no distance can obstruct God responding to prayer. God is always “on call,” always listening, always ready to respond . . . according to his will.
He is never “on break” or away on vacation. God always responds to prayer in his own way according to his own plans and purposes, but his responses are always far more and greater than we can ask, think, or imagine.
Prayer is a path where there is no path. With prayer, we can enter situations where there is no other way in—where every other way into a situation is blocked. Prayer is the original “wireless connection,” faster than the speed of thought.
Prayer is the means we use to reach Him Who is larger than and Beyond-The-Universe, yet “small” enough to live within our spirits in his unbodied form of the Holy Spirit.
God chooses to shape and transform the lives of other people—in part—by our prayers. Our prayers are deathless.
Every prayer we ever pray in and through Jesus will be answered according to God’s eternal plans and purposes. Our prayers far “outlive” us, well beyond this all-too-brief mortal life.
For example, who knows what prayers prayed in Jesus’ Name by those who lived long ago are being answered even now. Some of our prayers are remembered in Heaven long after we’ve prayed them. When our prayers in Jesus’ Name reach God’s throne room, they linger until He answers them.
Jesus’ prayer 2,000 years ago asking the Father that all his followers be one (John 17) has not yet been fully answered; what believer in God can honestly doubt that it will be fully answered at some future time?
It doesn’t matter that other people don’t know we are praying for them. God always knows . . . and hears . . . and responds according to his plans and purposes for those for whom we pray . . . here, there, everywhere, everywhen, pastward, futureward.
Postures and Positions For Prayer
There are no standard or normal positions, forms, or postures necessary or required for effective prayer: Sitting. Standing. Eyes open. Eyes closed. Kneeling. Hands folded. Hands open. Arms outstretched.
Gazing upward. Looking down. Peering around. Walking. Running. Prostrate. Using written prayers. Praying spontaneously and extemporaneously. Lengthy prayers or short prayers. All—and more—are acceptable, and neither hinder nor enhance effective prayer.
Prayer can be engaged in by one who is extremely poor, by one in a condition of vast wealth . . . and by anyone in between those extremes.
In most instances, when someone requests, “Let us pray,” many people bow their heads, close their eyes, fold their hands, and kneel in prayer. Such behavior is usually traditional and learned, but it is not necessary when praying . . . nor is it a biblical mandate to pray using such postures and positions.
All too often the emphasis on using certain postures and positions to engage in prayer distract one from praying because of the felt need to “perform” prayer properly. It can be very distracting focusing on whether or not one is using “correct” postures, positions, and words.
God Hears And Speaks All Languages
Please, please understand God does not restrict Himself to hearing prayer only in 400-year-old King James English with its archaic, outmoded, and outdated wordings and phrases.
He hears everyone in their native language and in the innumerable “tongues of angels” all humans have at their disposal for worship, praise, and prayer. God hears and speaks in over 7,000 human languages and in countless languages of heaven, including those spoken by angels, which we humans may use, too, during our mortal lives.
All 7,000 human languages have been corrupted and polluted by foul words, curse words, “dirty” words, and swear words. Anyone can pray in one’s native language, in any other learned human language, and in “tongues,” one of heaven’s many languages.
Notable about tongues is they are languages that have not been corrupted, dirtied, fouled, or polluted, thus making them “cleaner” languages in which to pray. God hears and understands them all . . . human or heavenly.
Jesus Believers And Prayer
Concerning believers in Jesus who pray, ponder this. Before Jesus was here as the God-man 2,000 years ago, there was no entity called the church. While He was here, He promised He would begin to build his church when He left.
Were it not for his church—his body on earth—the fact that Jesus was here would have faded into near nothingness. Now, 2,000 years later, He would have been simply another, almost forgotten religious leader of the past.
Jesus birthed his church in an atmosphere of prayer. (Acts 1: 13 and 14). And his church has continued to pray for 2,000+ years. The church on earth Jesus is growing and building with “living building stones” (1 Peter 2: 5) has continued to do and teach what Jesus first began to do and teach . . . including prayer.
The church was launched with prayer; it continues to grow and thrive by means of God’s response to its prayer.
Of course, any student of the Bible knows about the occasion when Jesus’ disciples came to Him asking Him to teach them how to pray. He responded by teaching them the so-called “Lord’s Prayer” (actually the “disciples’ prayer”).
That prayer is only a model prayer, only a prayer outline, never intended to be used as a rote, memorized prayer. By using that prayer as an outline or “guide” for prayer, any believer in Jesus can readily and easily pray an hour or more on any occasion! (Matthew 26: 38 – 41)
Note, too, God is not necessarily moved by those who pray repetitious prayers over and over—what the Bible terms “vain (empty or meaningless) repetitions.” Such repetitious prayer in and of itself is not necessarily meaningless, but it certainly can be—if the emphasis of repetitious prayer is on the “correct” wording rather than upon the meaning of what one is repeating.
How To Intercede
A major task of Holy Spirit living within our spirits is that He intercedes for us. (Romans 8: 26 and 27) In addition, while Holy Spirit is interceding for us here on earth through other people, the Bible teaches that Jesus is also in heaven interceding for us. (Romans 8: 34 and Hebrews 7: 25)
What a power-full combination to have both of them praying for us! I don’t understand that, but I believe it. We are invited to stride boldly into God’s throne room by means of prayer. (Hebrews 4: 16) God’s throne is a magnificent throne of grace, the foundations of which are righteousness and justice; it is NOT a throne from which He dispenses judgment!
What does it mean that both Jesus and Holy Spirit are interceding for us? On the viewing screen of my spirit in my creative imagination, I envision it in this manner.
Jesus is in God’s throne room at God’s right hand interceding for us. That takes place in heaven. Meanwhile, here on earth Holy Spirit is simultaneously interceding for each of us . . . through one another.
He self-limits his prayer activity here on earth to praying through those who “let” Him pray in and through them. How does Holy Spirit “handle” all those people—millions of them, perhaps billions—all praying at once? Holy Spirit is God; He is the quintessential, ultimate “Multi-Tasker,” totally focused on—and vitally involved in—every prayer being prayed everywhere and everywhen through Jesus.
Intercession by means of prayer is best defined as requisitioning God’s unlimited, inexhaustible, abundant resources to meet the overwhelming needs of people for whom we pray.
Another way of viewing intercession is a principle found in 1 Kings 10: 13 where we ask God the King (after meeting our needs) to give even more from his royal generosity and bounty! Please understand that intercessory prayer is both the most and best we can do for others, not the least (as people often mistakenly say with such statements as: “Well, the least I can do is pray for . . .”).
One fascinating thought about intercession is that you and I can join Jesus and Holy Spirit in interceding for the needs of other people. That means we are joining them in perfect intercession.
True, the fact that we are imperfect humans means we don’t intercede perfectly, but at least “tapping into” and joining Jesus and Holy Spirit in their perfect intercession means that our imperfect intercession for others is in many respects more “effective” than it would be by not joining them.
In regard to intercession, recently I was privileged to see this vision: “I had just begun my daily, early morning time of prayer and intercession. When doing so, I often picture myself and the people I pray for that day striding up to massive, golden double doors opening into God’s throne room.
“Huge angelic beings often open the doors for us so that I and the group of people with me can stride right on through them into the room. As we humbly bowed in front of God, I swept my arm around behind me to indicate to God the people I had brought with me for whom I would be interceding.
“As I did, Jesus simply glanced over to his right; I followed his glance and noticed he was glancing at a door labeled ‘Supply Room.’ Another angelic being opened that door so I could peer inside.
“It was a huge room, appearing much like a Sam’s Club with rows and rows of shelves that reached higher than I could see and stretched into the distance farther than the eye could see. It seemed to be an infinite storehouse full of unlimited items. I knew inside me that as I prayed for various people that morning, other angelic beings would come from that supply room to give people what I was praying about for them.”
For a number of years I have been joining Jesus and Holy Spirit in interceding for others. One thing joining them does for me is that I don’t feel quite so “alone” while praying for others.
It places me in a position where I am “agreeing” with them as the three of us are praying in harmony and unity about matters for which we pray together. It’s difficult for me to explain, but now I experience much more effectiveness in interceding for others by joining Jesus and the Holy Spirit in their limitless, boundless intercession transcending all time and space.
I do not enter God’s throne room presumptuously, arrogantly, or proudly. In fact, when I join Jesus and the Holy Spirit in intercession, in my creative imagination I picture myself striding boldly and confidently—yet humbly—into God’s throne room (again, it is a throne of grace!), bringing with me those for whom I am interceding.
I see myself and those for whom I pray humbly bowing our knees to the King before whose throne we have approached, receiving from Him only that which is good and in our best interests . . . from God’s viewpoint.
I encourage you, too, to take this approach to joining Jesus and Holy Spirit in intercession. I think you will find you, too, will be able to intercede much more effectively for others.
Prayer Lists or Guides
Like many Jesus believers through the centuries, I, too, often use a written prayer list or guide in praying for others. But while praying using my prayer list, I attempt to stay “open” to Jesus and Holy Spirit inviting me to pray for people and events not written on my prayer list.
By joining them in intercession from their universal, eternal “prayer list”—subsuming my own list into theirs’—I am able to pray much more effectively for others.
Here are two simple illustrations of how this “works.” I might be praying for missions using my own prayer list when I begin to “see” on the viewing screen of my spirit a family in—let’s say Yunnan Province, China—who are being persecuted because of their faith in Jesus; that’s Holy Spirit asking me to join Him in praying for that family . . . even though I don’t know their names or specific details (unless He chooses to disclose such details to me).
Or, perhaps I’m praying for someone on my prayer list when Holy Spirit “tells” me that person is in some sort of imminent danger. I immediately pray for God’s protection for that person. Those are only two simple examples of how this type of prayer works. I could cite innumerable other examples, but I hope those two give you a “feel” for what it’s like to join Jesus and Holy Spirit in interceding for others.
It’s an amazing, creative, effective, and more power-full way to pray and intercede for others—with much better “results.” In my creative imagination, I “see” the three of us holding hands in a majestic prayer circle while we unitedly and harmoniously agree in praying together to God the Father for others.
Again, I admit to you that for many years I simply was not an effective pray-er until I learned this method of interceding and praying for others.
For many years, prayer and intercession were actually pretty much of a chore I felt I was required to engage in simply because I was a Jesus believer. Prayer was not meaningful, exciting, or fulfilling . . . nor effective.
But now, well, I can’t even begin to describe to you how exciting it is to join Jesus and Holy Spirit as we three pray and intercede together for the needs of other people.
Study those references again in Romans 8 and Hebrews 4 and 7 in their contexts; ask Holy Spirit to make them “come alive” for you as you begin to join Him and Jesus—and me!—in praying and interceding for other people in an eternal “prayer circle” unlimited by time and space.
There are numerous biblical references admonishing believers in Jesus to pray. Ephesians 6: 18 encapsulates and summarizes those references: “Pray always.” The question is never: “When should I pray?” Instead, the question should be: “When is there any time or situation when I should not pray?”
God loves every person very deeply with eternal, ever-giving love, and yearns for us to maintain an abiding, eternal relationship with Him. Such a relationship grows and is strengthened and deepened as we spend time together with God in praying regularly and consistently.
Here are some closing thoughts about prayer . . . perhaps the most important words I’ve written for this teaching. For centuries, many people who believe the Bible have used the very words of the Bible to pray. What better way to pray than to use God’s own words!
For example, here’s what I’m praying for you—using words from the Bible—this very minute just before I press the “Send” key:
“Now I’m turning you over to God, our marvelous God whose grace-filled words can change you into what He wants you to be and give you everything you could possibly need within your local community of believers.” –Dr Luke in Acts 20: 32
“I ask God to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength. And I ask Him that with both feet planted firmly on his love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Jesus’ love. Reach out wide with both arms outspread and experience the breadth! See its unending length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives. Live in the fullness of God!”
–the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 3
“And now to Him who alone can keep you on your feet, standing tall in his bright presence, fresh and celebrating—to our one God, our only Savior, through Jesus our Master, be glory, majesty, strength, and rule before all time, and now, and to the end of all Time. Yes! Amen!” –Jude 24 and 25
To think about this month:
“Hallelujah! The Master reigns—our God, the Sovereign, the Strong One. Let us celebrate, let us rejoice, let us give Him the glory! –The Book of Revelation
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Revised and Updated November 2020