As we go into the final days of the 21-day fast for most churches, I am contemplating what it really means to cultivate a prayer life after fasting because this is the first time where I am able to take some time and focus on this topic. In Part 2, I talked about how if our prayer-life is out of sync and not aligned with God’s Word; we will continue to pray for things that are contrary to God’s plan for our lives.
In this final post in the 3-part miniseries on the purpose of fasting, I want to talk on how we as Christians should cultivate a prayer life after a fast that centers of who God is, what God has in store for our lives, and how to build a relationship with Christ through prayer.
What does it mean to Cultivate a Prayer Life?
Well, to me, I think that cultivating a prayer life is more than just praying to God and asking Him for guidance; I feel that in order to cultivate a prayer life, you would have to have begun to pray to God and be able to humble yourself before God. Humbling yourself before the Lord in prayer I feel shows that you and I as Christians are willing to submit to God’s plan for our lives over our way.
In the book of 2 Chronicles 7:14, the “chronicler” mentions that God just wants the people of Israel to humble themselves, pray and seek forgiveness of their sins and turn from their wickedness, but here’s the question: Can we as Christians today humble ourselves before God and pray for forgiveness?
2 Chronicles 7:14
“14. if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
I like this verse because it shows that if we as Christians are willing to humble ourselves before the Lord and confess our sins through prayer; God, in turn, will forgive us our sins and heal us. This verse should be a reminder to us as Christians today that by cultivating a humble prayer life with God, we can be like the prophet Nehemiah, who was able to intercede on behalf of the people of Israel and himself.
In Nehemiah 1:6 it says, “6. please let Your ear be attentive and Your eyes open, that You may hear this prayer of Your servant which I pray before You now, day and night, for the children of Israel Your servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel which we have sinned against You. Both my father’s house and I have sinned.”
This verse I feel is a great way for us as Christians and even those who are beginning their walk with God to pray that God hears your prayers. Humbling ourselves before God in prayer shouldn’t be a way for others to see us and acknowledge that we are praying but praying should be a time of reflection and getting to know more about God and who He is.
C.S. Lewis said, “Prayer does not change God; it changes me.“
This ties in with a devotional I read by Lizzy Milani of Pocket Fuel entitled, “Innermost Prayers – A Pretty Important Prayer – Part 2” and in the devotional, Lizzy said, “Public prayer can be beautiful and powerful; sometimes hypnotic and soothing. But not everyone who prays in public is sincere.” I like this statement because this reminded me of what the Pharisees were like during Jesus’s day where they appeared to be praying in the street corners but were really hypocrites and prayed in order to get recognition from those looking.
I feel that this isn’t the way to cultivate a prayer life with God, instead, it’s a way to take that praise that belongs to God and putting on ourselves. Also, in the devotional, Lizzy makes several quotes that I feel can help us as Christian’s develop and later cultivate our prayer life in Christ.
- “The reward for public prayer is simply in its being “witnessed.”
- “… there is more to prayer than our public words; there is more to prayer than our words being witnessed and heard and applauded. There is more to prayer than words and form and structure and ceremony.”
- “… go into your innermost chamber and pray in secret.”
- “Perhaps it was an invitation for the disciples to embrace emptiness and solitude. Instead of filling up space with noise, empty it out into quiet; into Presence.”
Lizzy Milani quotes Richard Rohr saying, “Prayer too easily became an attempt to change God and aggrandize ourselves instead of what it was meant to be – an interior practice to change the one who is praying…”
This thought of cultivating a prayer life after fasting by humbling ourselves before the Lord is where I feel that another way for us as Christians and as people to cultivate our prayer lives is when we spend time in prayer with the Father and allow Him to speak to us through His Holy Spirit. I feel that cultivating our prayer lives so that we can hear more from God is extremely important and is where I found this blog post by Mike Mobley of Before the Cross, who wrote on this topic called, “How Should We Pray”.
In the blog post, he said a quote that I feel we as Christians should remember saying, “Prayer is a way of communicating directly to our Father. Think of it as an open communication channel that when we turn it on (start to pray) we can speak directly to God and listen for His word back to us” and I like this quote because it talks about how we as Christians should pray to God.
Prayer being the communication link between us and God actually reminds me of a Biblical story where Daniel was assigned by King Nebuchadnezzar to reveal his dream to him and I like what Daniel did after being told. In Daniel 2:17-18, Daniel, after being told by King Nebuchadnezzar went to his house and conversed with Shadrach (Hananiah), Meshach (Mishael), and Abednego (Azariah) about what to do with Nebuchadnezzar’s dream.
Daniel’s first decision to go and pray to God with his fellow Israelites shows Daniel’s commitment to having and keeping his relationship with the Father. Daniel 2:17-18 says, “17. Then Daniel went to his house, and made the decision known to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, his companions, 18. that they might seek mercies from the God of heaven concerning this secret, so that Daniel and his companions might not perish with the rest of the wise men of Babylon.”
Corrie Ten Boom said, “Don’t pray when you feel like it. Have an appointment with the Lord and keep it.”
Cultivating a prayer life after fasting is also about being fervent in your prayers. Having a fervent prayer as James 5:16 says, “16. … The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” is important and a fervent prayer is one that exhibits great warmth and emotion; and in my opinion, it also means that it’s a prayer that’s given in obedience to the One who hears our prayers.
Praying fervently is something that I feel as Christians we lack because we tell ourselves that we need to pray more but never get around to doing it. I recently read a devotional by Eric Nelson of Paradigm Shift who wrote on this topic called, “Why You Should Stop Telling Yourself to Pray More”.
In the devotional; he asks a quote that makes you question the way you and I have been praying asking, “Why does this not work? It doesn’t work because our prayers are a reflection of our heart. They are a reflection of how we view God the Father in light of our sin and unrighteousness.” I like this quote because this question really makes me think about the way I have been praying and whether my prayers were a reflection of my heart or a reflection of my own selfishness and what I wanted.
In the devotional, Eric Nelson has several quotes that I think we as Christians should remember and even ask ourselves when we pray.
- “… If we don’t think our sin to be immoral and deserving of judgment, then we won’t show our sincerest thankfulness and gratitude to God. He is the one who covered our judgment by His willingness to bear what should have been our Cross.”
- “If we believe we are separated from God a part from relationship with Jesus Christ, we will humble ourselves in reverence to our God; the only one who can save us from our separation and unite us as sons and daughters of the Most High.”
- “We should pray honest, from the heart prayers to God because we recognize our need for Him.”
- “We should pray out of delight for what He has done and whatever His future plans are for us. Let us pray that God answers our deepest needs according to His will and not our own.”
- “When we forget to pray, a reminder will not fix that.”
- “It will only help us sputter some words out of lawful duty as opposed to lovely delight for God.
Eric Nelson said, “May we fall to our knees and lift our voice to Him who willfully set aside His desires to meet our deepest desire; renewed relationship to Himself to save us from our sin.”
I feel that another way we as Christians can cultivate our prayer lives is by having an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. In my opinion, a great example of having a personal relationship with Christ is through the life of David. Despite David’s horrible deeds in regards to the death of Bathsheba’s husband Uriah and committing adultery, David still repented and acknowledged his sins and confessed them to God. Whenever we feel that our relationship with God could potentially be shaken by doubt and fears, we can turn to the Lord like David did in Psalms 5:2-3.
In Psalms 5:2-3, it says, ““2. Give heed to my voice of my cry; My King and my God, For to You I will pray. 3. My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord; In the morning I will direct it to You, And I will look up.” T.R. Noble of Inside Cup wrote a blog post on prayer entitled, “Layers of Prayer Pt. 1 | Outer Layer” and in the blog post; she said, “Prayer Isn’t About Getting What We Want”. I like this quote because it should really hit home for us as Christians and people who might often pray for things that we want.
Charles Spurgeon said, “If you want that splendid power in prayer, you must remain in loving, living, lasting, conscious, practical, abiding union with the Lord Jesus Christ.”
T.R. goes into greater detail in her blog post describing how there are “levels” of prayer and that it really depends on our relationship with Jesus Christ. When she spoke on Surface Prayers, she stated a quote that I think we as Christians should remember and ask ourselves before we pray saying, “Surface prayers miss out on the most important factor when it comes to praying to God. … Prayer relies upon the foundation on which our relationship with Jesus Christ lies. If there is no relationship with Christ, there is no use in pretending to be a believer.”
Throughout the blog post, T.R. consistently explains and goes into detail that having a prayer life that involves Christ is more than ourselves, the time that we spend on other things instead of God, or the doubts that plague our minds. I feel that having a relationship and in essence, a prayer life with Christ at the center is also about our heart and where it is focused.
This theme of cultivating a prayer life after fasting through Jesus Christ is where I found this blog post by SpaniardVIII of Spiritual Minefield called, “Why Is It Vital For A Christian To Habitually Pray?”. In the blog post, he has several reasons why we as Christians and as people should habitually pray and I feel that when we pray to God, it shouldn’t just be all about us.
- Intercession for others,
- When one feels sick,
- For the believer’s growth,
- For the salvation of others,
- Prayer strengthens you so you won’t fall into temptation,
- It is the believer’s responsibility to pray for others,
- If one wants to get close to the Lord,
- Do not worry about what to pray for, and
- Always confess your sins to the LORD through prayer.
“… having a relationship and in essence, a prayer life with Christ at the center is also about our heart and where it is focused.”
As you and I can see, when we start developing our prayer life, we can start to pray for things that aren’t just about us, but also to intercede for someone else and bring their prayers and worries to the Lord. This amazing theme of cultivating a prayer life is when I realized that in order for us as Christians to really cultivate our prayer lives is if we become like Jesus. Whenever Jesus had the chance, He would go somewhere private and pray and continue to listen to the Father and I feel that we as Christians should do the same.
In Mark 1:35, it says that Jesus went out to a solitary place to pray saying, “35. Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed.” I like this verse because it shows that despite Jesus being fully God and fully man, He still went out of His way to pray and spend time with the Lord. I recently read several blog posts by author and speaker Jaquelle Crowe who talked about this topic in her series on Praying Without Ceasing.
In Part 1 of her series, she explains how a group of pastors were wondering about the question: What does it mean to pray without ceasing? and in the conversation; they asked their waitress and what she said not only surprised me but made me think about doing it as well. The waitress said, “I just kind of pray my way through the day like that.” Before, I would just pray when I need too but never throughout the day.
Later in the blog post, she asked the question, “Are you in constant communication with God all day, pouring out your troubles, sending up confessions, asking for peace, begging for mercy, praying for the salvation of souls, lifting up others’ burdens?… And why? Why don’t we pray without ceasing? Well there are four main reasons.”
I like this question because it makes us ask ourselves if we are not only developing our prayer life, but if we are giving all of our troubles and worries to the Lord. However, Jaquelle points out that sometimes we as Christians and as people don’t want to pray and communicate with God because:
- We’re “too busy” for prayer,
- We don’t want to “bother” God,
- We forget what prayer is, and
- We forget who God is.
Jaquelle Crowe said, “We can’t neglect prayer because we have so many other things going on. Do you know what that says about us? It says that our activities that are keeping us so busy are more important than God”
In the end, though, cultivating a prayer life after fasting is never easy. I feel that because we live in a society that focuses so intently on “look at me” and self-glorification, we as Christians also get swept away and forget to nurture and grow our relationship with the One who has all of the answers.
In my opinion, in order to fully cultivate a prayer life that centers around God’s Word and what He has for our lives, we as people and as Christians have to first acknowledge our own selfishness and pride and humble ourselves before God.
So, what will you do?
Here are some questions that I feel we as Christians should ask ourselves before we pray.
Am I willing to begin to recognize that I don’t have all the answers and humble myself before God?
Am I willing to grow my relationship with Jesus Christ and allow His Spirit to guide me?
Will I begin to start praying fervently and with passion towards God?
Please comment below. I’d love to hear what you think. Has your prayer life consisted of “Me” instead of allowing God to guide you?
I hope you all enjoyed this 3-part miniseries on the purpose of fasting because I enjoyed researching and getting to know more about what it means to fast and pray.
© Jaquelle Crowe (2011). Source: jaquellecrowe.com. Used with permission.
Boom, Ten Corrie. “Don’t pray when you feel like it. Have an appointment with the Lord and keep it.”, http://www.azquotes.com/quote/519578?ref=christian-prayer . Accessed 25 Jan 2018.
Lewis, C.S. “Prayer does not change God; it changes me”, http://www.azquotes.com/quote/867605 . Accessed 26 Jan 2018.
Mobley, Mike. “How Should We Pray?”, beforethecross.com, https://www.beforethecross.com/biblical-teachings/how-should-we-pray/ . Accessed 24 Jan 2018.
Noble, T.R. “Layers of Prayer Pt. 1 | Outer Layer”, nobledevotionblog.wordpress.com, https://nobledevotionblog.wordpress.com/2016/06/24/layers-of-prayer-part-1-outer-layer-surface-prayers/ . Accessed 26 Jan 2018.
SpaniardVIII. “Why Is It Vital For A Christian To Habitually Pray?”, spiritualminefield.wordpress.com, https://spiritualminefield.wordpress.com/2017/12/28/why-is-it-vital-for-a-christian-to-habitually-pray/ . Accessed 26 Jan 2018.
Spurgeon, Charles. “If you want that splendid power in prayer, you must remain in loving, living, lasting, conscious, practical, abiding union with the Lord Jesus Christ.”, http://www.azquotes.com/quote/544778?ref=christian-prayer . Accessed 26 Jan 2018.
Author Unknown. “Nehemiah 1:6”, https://www.quotescodex.com/let-your-ear-be-attentive-your-eyes-open-to-hear-prayer-your-servant-is-praying-before-you-day-night-for-your-servants-people-israel-i-confess-nehemiah-16-288014/ , Accessed 26 Jan 2018.
Author Unknown. “Psalms 5:2”, https://i.pinimg.com/736x/7f/66/63/7f66630d0a896daa2de92dab71fbdeda–psalms-quotes-scripture-quotes-jpg. Accessed 26 Jan 2018.
Author Unknown. “Prayer Request”, http://gloryawakening.com/prayer-request/ . Accessed 26 Jan 2018.
Conley, Sharon. “Mark 1:35”, http://slideplayer.com/slide/4238014/ . Accessed 26 Jan 2018.
Hoover, Todd. “Nebuchadnezzar’s Dream”, http://slideplayer.com/slide/5785393/ . Accessed 26 Jan 2018.
Kaer, Sydney. “Daily Verse: 2 Chronicles 7:14”, http://www.kcisradio.com/2017/09/11/daily-verse-2-chronicles-714/ . Accessed 26 Jan 2018.