So don’t get the cart before the horse.
I admit it.
I got the cart before the horse.
I would start out teaching the different types of prayer like my teachers taught me to do.
Let me explain.
I was only following those before me— but what was I missing? Why were people praying self-centered and selfish prayers? Why weren’t they maturing in Christ?
I’ve been a Christian for 48 years but the last 34 years have been life transforming in the area of prayer.
I had all kinds of questions, like:
- Why aren’t more of my prayers being answered?
- Why, if God knows everything, do I even need to pray anyway?
- Does He even hear me when I pray?
Can you identify with those questions? Maybe you have asked the same thing.
Prayer is simple but if we get the cart before the horse it becomes hard. Today when I teach on prayer I don’t start with the different types of prayer.
Now I start with God’s desire.
I knew I was missing something— but I didn’t know what. So I prayed. I remember a Scripture coming to my mind where Jesus said of the Father,
“Yes, I know You always hear and listen to Me,” (John 11:42). Jesus was at Lazarus’s tomb when He spoke these words.
What jumped out at me this time were the words, “I know You always hear and listen to Me.”
The thought came why not put all your books, tapes, and CD’s away and come to Jesus, and He’ll teach me all I need to know about prayer.
That was definitely a Jesus moment— and my prayer life has never been the same. Why not go to the only person ever— who could say those words.
Well, what a novel idea I thought to myself. So— it’s been a journey over these last 34 years coming to know prayer from the Father and Son’s perspective.
You could say, I’ve been in the school of the Holy Spirit— what a teacher. This school is not how fast you can go but enjoying the whole journey. It’s like my life has been the schoolroom to learn the Father and Son’s perspective on prayer.
I could never have learned what I know today about prayer in any school or university. God’s passion and desire have never changed. You see it at the beginning of Genesis— straight through the Bible to the last book of the Bible— the book of Revelation.
It’s called Fellowship.
This is the absolute unchanging desire of God’s heart.
He wants us to learn to hear His voice for ourselves, and He longs to hear ours. He wants to communicate with us— and He wants us to communicate with Him.
You’ve heard the definition of fellowship—two men in a ship, going in the same direction heading for the same destination. But what happens when each one wants to go in a different direction at the same time? That’s a big problem.
You might think this is a silly example. But think about it, what happens in any relationship where one person wants to go one way, and the other person wants to go another way at the same time? It’s called conflict, isn’t it?
Think of it this way, you heard about the different types of prayer and off you go. . . eager to try out those different ways to pray, you even write a book about the different ways to prayer.
You can name the different types of prayer—why you even teach others about the different types of prayer. So on and so on, it goes. Now you might work up a sweat, from all the rowing you are doing— thinking to yourself, “I sure am making a lot of progress.”
The only thing missing is— seeing and understanding from the Father and Son’s perspective about prayer.
You got the cart before the horse.
So if we put prayer in the wrong order or have the wrong priority for prayer, we end up believing praying is more important than fellowshipping with God.
Fellowshipping with Him first is the more important thing.