Thank you for reading today. Our greatest desire is that you would be encouraged in the Lord! In my daily time with God in His Word today, the Holy Spirit spoke to me about why we must learn how to pray. I believe in this Covid-19 Pandemic this is an important subject to deal with. This has been a subject in our Biblical Counseling program that we find most neglected in the folks that come for Biblical Counseling or not being an effective prayer. There are some Biblical principles that we must learn in regard to our payer life.  In our meetings when I am speaking about How to Have a Real Relationship With God-The Work of the Holy Spirit in a Person’s Life, I ask the people in the meeting this question.  “When was the last time you had an answer to prayer and you knew it was God?”  Quite frankly that is a lot more common than you think. I have heard many people say that they had an answer to prayer that was non-biblical.  Just not correct and we wonder why we have so many spiritual problems today.  This is a huge problem. 

What Is the Problem?   

The answer is two-fold. In our last couple of articles we talked about our lust. The Bible is very plain about this. The word lust, lusts, lusting, and lusteth is used more than 50 times in the Bible.  When we Biblically counsel people they come to us because their marriage, children, or life is falling apart because of their lusts.  They have lost hope, and they are fighting, waring, deceiving, lying, rebellious and their life is in total destructive mode. They do not understand why. Yet their life is a mess. They have no real prayer life. Their life is nowhere near honoring and glorifying God, yet they profess to be saved. Many times they are ready to divorce and lives are being destroyed.  They are rebels to authority.  They are destructive and prideful people.

First of all they have no real, intimate, personal and passionate relationship with God. They are trying to pray with sin in their life.  

Psalms 66:18, If I regard iniquity (sin) in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:

In essence, if I do not deal with sin in my life the Lord will not hear me! Without a real relationship with God I cannot pray properly.

Secondly, they are not praying correctly because they are focused on living for their lusts!  So, God says they do not get an answer because they ask amiss.
James 4:2-3, Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.  (3)  Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.

How Do I Learn to Pray Properly

Now we come to the real prayer time. When I first met my wife Kim, I wanted to have a real relationship with her.  We would talk to each other and then listen to each other.  It is the same way with God. Remember a relationship is about listening and talking, that is the way I develop a real relationship.  The essence of the Christian life is to ask God questions. That is submission. As I come to prayer, I ask God to speak to my spirit today about what He wants me to pray about. “Lord what do you want me to pray about today?”

Remember this principle.  Matthew 6:7-8, But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.  (8)  Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.God know what you have need of even before you ask.  But it is important to ask Him! 

This is very important. Remember I John 2:15-17 where the devil is seeking to control my life through outside pressure through the lust of the flesh (an overwhelming desire to do)lust of the eyes (an overwhelming desire to have)and the pride of life (an overwhelming desire tobe)Listen carefully, after asking God what He wants me to pray about today, and praying about it as He speaks to me. I then ask God what He wants me to do today, what He wants me to have to day, and what He wants me to be today. Effectively, I have disarmed the devil’s approach by turning these three areas over to God. Folks, would it not be better to pray about what God wants you to do, have, and be? The people who come through our counseling program are always talking about what they want to do, what they want to have, and what they want to be. I know immediately they are being controlled by the devil’s influence on their soul and he is controlling their body and therefore controlling what they ultimately do.

Examples of How to Pray

There are three more things I want to ask God about. First of all – who does He want me to witness to today? Then I stop talking (be quiet) and listen to God. Remember a relationship is a two way street, talking and listening, listening and talking. After God tells me who to witness to today, I then ask him who He wants me to encourage today? When He brings up that person I pray for them and then maybe give them a call or write them a note. Thirdly, I ask God what I can praise Him for today? There are many passages of Scripture that tell us to praise God. However, I want to know what He wants me to praise Him for. Why do I pray about whom to witness to today, encourage today, and to praise God for? Because I am focusing on others and not myself. When most Christians pray they have a list and they go down it and it is, “Lord give me this and I want that or let me be this.” It is a self-righteous way to pray and it is not accomplishing anything. It is the focus of the devil to get the Christian to love the world. I John 2:15, If any man love the world the love of the Father is not in Him. Does that mean he is lost? No, it means he does not have a real relationship with God. His love is somewhere else – toward the world. When you develop a real relationship with the Saviour, it will be a love relationship. Think about it, the God of the universe is speaking to me and I am listening to Him. I am talking to Him and He is listening to me! What will really effectively increase your faith will happen when you ask God what to pray about, and He tells you and you pray about it and it is answered. When was the last time you had a real answer to prayer? Are you self-righteously praying?

I used to play professional baseball as a pitcher. When I would stand on the mound I would look at the catcher and ignore the hitter. When I threw a 92 mile an hour fast ball by the hitter, I was focused on me and the catcher. In baseball terms it was called “he is in the zone.” Nothing else was focused on. I liken that to my relationship with God. It is personal (between me and God), intimate (it is a love relationship, very close to each other), and passionate (there is real desire there). Nothing motivates you more than to know that God will speak to you today and will hear you speak to Him. Talking and listening, listening and talking.

Without the intimate, personal, passionate relationship between God and me, I am doomed to disaster after disaster and failure in many parts of my life. It will always affect my wife and children. If I am living the Christian life in unrighteousness or self-righteousness (seeking to live the Christian life in my own power), I am doomed to a lot of pain and destruction in my life. The devil really does not care if I live the mechanical Christian life – either way it is fine with him. 

You must learn the submission principle.  James 4:7, Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  The devil every day, multiple times a day, will put outside pressure on your life.  He does this many times with our lusts.  Romans 6:12-19, Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield (submit) ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield (submit) yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.  For sin shall not have dominion over you:  for ye are not under the law, but under grace.  What then?  shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace?  God forbid.  Know ye not, that to whom ye yield (submit) yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?  But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.  Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.  I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh:  for as ye have yielded (submitted) your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield (submit) your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.

So, how do I submit?  I have to learn to submit and be controlled by the Holy Spirit at different times throughout the day at the point of spiritual impact. Every time a lust, evil thought, or outside pressure comes up, which I call the point of spiritual impact, “Lord, I want to turn this over to you. Forgive me for this thought or desire and I want to turn from it. I submit myself to you to be controlled and filled by the Holy Spirit.”  In the book of Philippians it talks about “Rejoicing in the Lord always.”  The only way to rejoice in the Lord always (moment by moment) is to be a Spirit controlled person by submitting at the point of impact.

Philippians 4:4-9, Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.  (5)  Let your moderation (self-control) be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand (in your life).  (6)  Be careful (anxious) for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.  (7)  And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.  (8)  Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.  (9)  Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.

I want you to notice in verse 6 the phrase “prayer and supplication.”  Supplication means to ask for something humbly (submitted).  Then I want you to notice in verse 6 thanksgiving.  Then notice in verse 8 praise.  So, at the point of impact rather than be anxious Lord I want to turn this over to you, I ask you to forgive me, I want to submit this to you and to be controlled by the Holy Spirit.  Since most problems begin in the mind, Lord what do you want me to praise you for and thank you for?  Then verse eight comes to play proper Spirit controlled thinking rather than let your mind worry, fret and think on the wrong things. It must become a daily moment by moment part of your life to be a Spirit controlled person.

The essence of the submitted Christian life is to ask God questions. 

Remember James 4:7 says the devil is involved and the only way to walk in the Spirit is to have a submitted life with God.  That is where our power comes from, being submitted moment by moment, at the point of spiritual impact.  In the question asking with God, use the: who, what, when, where, how, and why method.  Lord who do you want me to witness to today?  Lord what do you want me to pray about today? Lord, what can I praise you for today?  Questions are submission.  Remember to stop, think, turn it over to God, and listen. Always ask God questions.    

The sadness of the hour in which we live is that many Christians do not have a real relationship with God. Folks, do not think that I have said memorization of Scripture is not good. It is, but by itself will create a self-righteous life. If you memorize it, meditate on it. How does God speak to you through the verses? Also, you have to read your Bible to meditate, but you have to stop to study and listen to the Spirit of God when He wants to show you what He wants for you from God’s Word. Do not just keep on going because you have three or four chapters you must read today. You have to stop and listen! A real relationship requires we spend quality time together. Kim is my best friend. She is someone I can talk to and listen to. She is the love of my life. My relationship with the Lord is to be like that as well.  A real, intimate, personal, and passionate relationship with God. 

I use to play professional baseball.  While I was pitching, the infielders behind me would chatter to try to distract the hitter and disrupt their concentration. I was in the zone, just me and the catcher. After the pitch, I would hear an infielder say, “Way to go, hum baby!” When you have a real intimate personal, passionate relationship with the Lord, you are in the zone and humming. When the devil comes along with his outside pressure, you are focused on the Spirit of God speaking to your spirit, and your soul is then controlled by the Spirit of God and so is your body,thus you are Spirit controlled and walking in the Spirit. 
When there is outside pressure from the devil, instead of responding to people with anger, meanness, harshness, or other responses, you are responding with the fruits of the spirit, Galatians 5:22-22, “love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance.”

Remember, be the vessel God can use today by asking the Holy Spirit to show you if you are living your life not dealing with your sin (lusts)?  Are you living in the sin of allowing selfish carnal thinking or listening to rule your life and making you react or rationalize your sin? Be all you can be for Him today and have a powerful testimony of living a Spirit controlled yielded godly life that is serving and living with humility, joy and peace! We encourage you today to make Jesus Christ real in your life by humbly yielding to Him at the point of impact and living for Him, not the life of selfish carnal thinking and speaking. It is an important choice! Tell God you want to yield yourself to Him today and be a trusting, useful, and rewarded servant! Be the person who can help, not the person who always needs help! Rejoice in Him today!

We pray for many of you daily!  May we all humble ourselves before God and focus on having compassion on others!

With a heart to glorify God and serving the God of answers,

Dr. Terry L. Coomer
Director, Hope Biblical Counseling and Training