Learning how to have a dynamic prayer life

How to have a dynamic prayer lifeEver since Greg Stier spoke at the National Youth Workers Convention, I’ve been thinking about something he said. He read the story of Elijah on Mount Carmel (1 Kings 19), about how the prophets of Baal prayed and begged their god for hours and hours for a single spark of fire on their alter. When none came, they prayed even more earnestly, even mutilating their own bodies in desperation, but still there was no answer from Baal. Finally at the end of the day it was Elijah’s turn. He calmly prepared the sacrifice, drenched everything with water and simply prayed,

“O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, O LORD, answer me, so these people will know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.” (1 Kings 18:36-37)

The idea in scripture is that God IMMEDIATELY answered his prayer by sending down fire from heaven that not only burned the sacrificed bull, but also consumed the entire alter, stones, water and everything! WOW!!

Man, I pray like a wuss!

  • When I pray I like to remain somewhat reserved and not pray for things that are too radical so I don’t unnecessarily get my hopes up.
  • I like to pray for things I feel like I can still keep some kind of control over in case I need to help God out.
  • I like to pray with 50/50 faith: “Maybe God will answer, maybe He won’t. Who knows? Let’s see what happens.”

In comparison, I observe a couple things about Elijah.

  • He risked his life to be in public. He was a wanted man for being a prophet of God (1 Kings 18:9-14). There was a death wish on his head, so for him to come out from hiding was a very bold and risky action.
  • He obeyed God with such confidence that he was willing to put his neck and God’s reputation on the line.
  • Because of his obedience, he could boldly pray according to the will of God.
  • He had no control over the outcome of his prayer or his obedience to God. For all he knew, God would use this situation to prove something else or nothing at all. He had great faith to proceed.

Here’s the number one thing I learn from Elijah’s example: Maybe I don’t always experience the power of God in my life because I rarely give Him the opportunity to do so.

I go to James 5:16 in the New Testament, a verse I memorized for the community aspect of praying for each other. However, I often overlook the second half that says, “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” If I want to have a prayer life that is “powerful and effective,” apparently the key ingredient to the recipe is righteousness. The obvious question I then ask myself is, “What is righteousness?” and “Do I have it?”

The Message
puts it this way: “The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with.”

That’s what I want, to be like Elijah and live right with God. I want my prayer life to be something that’s powerful to be reckoned with. I want to live a life for Him that’s bold, risky, confident, obedient and is right smack in the middle of His will.

Whew! Easier said than done.

Posted on October 25, 2006

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  • Jerry

    Very well put, Tim. As I pray for our church at this critical time in its history I am challenged with the same thing. We need to stretch our prayer life. I’ll use your blog with our prayer meeting tonight. Thanks!

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  • I was at a pastor’s retreat for our denomination not that long ago. We had a director of a retreat centre come and speak for us, and it was one of the most fascinating times of the three days. He laid out a whole table of objects, and dimmed the lights, and we talked about what they meant to us. Maybe it was the nail, and how it reminded us of Jesus’ sacrifice. Or the strand of rope, and how God offers it to us to pull us out of the mire. Maybe the picture of Jesus laughing, and how joyful he was, and yet what a real life he lived.

    He also said one other thing. We are to pray for God’s mind, God’s heart, and God’s will. That simple sentence left a huge impact on me. That I would have God’s mind, His worldview. That I would have his heart, for people, and also for myself. And that I would know His will, so that I wouldn’t be afraid to step out in faith.

    Just my two cents!

  • Tim

    Thanks Steven, that’s a very helpful perspective. Essentially, praying to have God’s mind, heart and will is “righteousness,” what makes prayer powerful and effective. I’ll remember that.

  • ffew

    Tim mate, thanks for directing me to your page, this was a very encouraging and challenging post. Elijah certainly is someone that we can learn a lot from, what a great example he is to each of us, if only we could have his boldness. His devotion to God has always struck and amazed me – exemplified but not exclusively demonstrated through his obedience.

    I think that many youth ministries would be completely transformed if only those leading them took seriously the call to devotion, obedience that Elijah clearly understood and had the faith to live out. Thank you for this post, i think that i’m going have to spend time thinking and praying these things through!

  • Tim

    Thanks for visiting, ffew! The other thing I like about Elijah is that he was far from perfect. He had his fair share of trials, doubts and struggles just like me. It’s easy to look at Biblical characters and think, “Man, that’s cool for them but that’s just not real life anymore.” Elijah went through a lot more than I ever have, though, and still came out with this kind of faith. He’s a good inspiration to me.

  • Thanks. As a re-submitted God fearing woman, and yes, I do fear God…what He asks of me, what He has done in the past and what He is capable of in our future…as a poet, writer, artist, designer, and plain old gal that loves people and horses, all animals, and puppets and parades…it kind of all adds up after forty nine years of frittered time saying I don’t want to, I don’t have to, You can’t make me…and then saying…okay…have it Your way. Simple? Hell no. Scarey. You bet.
    My testimony…I should have died of a drug overdose years ago. I should have died as a toddler from measles and high fevers and brain damage. I have been blessed with a creative talent…a love for travel and comfort in meeting new people, and so He has finally let me know what I ought to be doing. And being imperfect He has placed some other imperfect people in my life to challenge me, my abilities, and to shed a bit of light on the problems in our society with Parents, as myself, and their children. Alcoholism, drug addictions, verbal abuse, fear based vs. faith based lives…what a hard road to travel. The Crossroads have been met. I have an unbelieveable God that loves and sustains me when I allow HIm to. But what I have found, that many others will dissagree with…is that God is God…reguardless of religion. Religion is like a food…some people are allergic to cayenne or onions make them cry too much.
    But LOVE…that is God in His Glory. This is what I seek to learn, and share as I progress through my Christian Journey, and learn about other religions as well so I can be respectful of the differences. Pray for me please. Thank you.

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