The Activities We Substitute for Prayer
Prayer 101 – Part 2.4
As we conclude our message on Prayer 099, we have just a few more uncategorized practices to discuss. Although, I don’t have a category for these final activities to fit in, they are very important to mention. It’s activities like these that we need to further define what it means to have a beginner’s level understanding of prayer. Remember in “next level prayer” it’s not our goal to criticize or come against your prayer practices. However, we wish to take you from the level you’re at to a higher level with whatever you use for prayer or to pray. So in this final installment of Prayer 099, we have one objective: provide a few more 099 prayer practices or activities for those who intend on going to the next level.
Is this a prayer practice?
Some of our prayer practices and activities lend to asking these questions, is this really prayer?
Until one begins asking questions the door to learning more might be closed. Can you honestly say that someone sat down with you and taught you these so-called prayer practices? Would you consider yourself an expert at prayer? It’s not until someone begins to ask questions that one might reconsider their answers to questions like these. Here are a few more questions regarding common activities that might help you see why learning more about prayer might just change how we pray.
- Should I pray only short prayers?
I know you’ve heard someone say, “I pray for 5 minutes or less on average.” In fact this is where most (51% or more) are in their prayer time. This is often justified with “I pray a lot of short prayers throughout the day.” Some teachings have us convinced that praying short prayers is okay. Now I’m not going to argue that point because I believe any prayer or length of prayer is better than no prayer at all. However, I want you to consider the effects of what would happen if you only had short conversations with your spouse, children, and family members. What would your relationships be like if you held them all to conversations that only lasted a few minutes on almost all your interactions?
Do you really believe that if you had an opportunity to talk to God, who can change all and do all, that you’d limit your time with Him to five minutes or less? Please don’t hear what I’m not saying, which is that you should pray longer. I want you to understand that talking to God should be so enjoyable that if you only had five minutes to talk to Him, you would run out of time and be late for other activities, but you would never short Him. This is next level prayer. It’s time to take a short prayer to the next level and in order to do that we must learn how.
- Is reading my Bible during my “quiet time” considered prayer?
We have placed this question in this message because it could be perceived that reading our Bibles during our “quiet time” might be considered prayer. What I am not saying is that you don’t need your Bible because you do. Meditation (quiet time) and prayer are not the same, if they were we would not need two separate words for the two activities. In fact, some of the most effective pray-ers (people who pray) that I know pray using their Bible. They want to make sure that their requests align appropriately with God’s word. That’s Next Level!
- Is speaking in tongues prayer?
I’m going to quickly go through this one as the phrase “speaking in tongues” already creates enough controversy for most of us. By the way, “speaking in tongues” is a next level act in and of itself. Everyone isn’t ready for that. Did you know that the words the Bible uses for “speaking in tongues” and the word used for “pray” are not the same? Allow me to show you something that helped me understand that “speaking in tongues” and “prayer” are not the same.
“For if I pray in tongues, my spirit is praying, but I don’t understand what I am saying. Well then, what shall I do? I will pray in the spirit, and I will also pray in words I understand.” -bible.com/bible/116/1CO.14.13-15.NLT
In other words, the terms aren’t interchangeable. However, you can pray in tongues in the same way you can pray using words you understand. More on this topic to come. This is next level prayer.
- Is making affirmations prayer?
This action is also known as making declarations and confessions. We’ve even referred to it as making professions. This sounds good when we say or hear someone do it well. However, saying affirmations is like speaking to a mountain. Speaking to a mountain and praying to God are not the same. Should one decree and declare some truths over their life and situations? Sure. However, the definition of the word pray, which we will discuss in more detail later, means to offer prayer to God. In other words, make an ask of God. It does not mean to decree or declare. Decreeing and declaring doesn’t match the definition of the word. So we must be very careful making the common assumption that we’re praying when we’re really making affirmations, declarations, and professions. Next level, I tell you.
- Is laying hands on the sick and anointing with oil prayer?
Before I begin to speak to this question, let me say this. Laying hands on the sick is certainly a next level action. In fact, I don’t encourage anyone to begin talking about this action unless they plan on going to the next level and becoming a next level person. The same with anointing with oil. In fact, I found a passage that says anoint your head not because you’ve prayed, but rather so that you don’t have the look of one who’s been fasting. The reason I bring this up is that so many times, we place so much emphasis on the laying on of hands by a preacher or having oil smeared in us, that we tend to place faith in these acts and not in God to whom we pray. These actions are what I call an accompaniment to prayer. We pair them with prayer. We pair them with our requests for God to do something specific. In other words, it’s the prayer that gives these acts of faith their power. Next level prayer with next level actions produce next level results.
I hope I’ve done a good job in presenting these Prayer 099 level practices in a way that will influence your thoughts, studies, and actions with the expectation that it takes you to the next level in prayer. Before you call something prayer, I want you to take a second thought and look. When we confuse prayer for any other activity, chances are we reduce the results we expect to receive from prayer. It’s said clearly that we don’t have the results we’d like simply because we never asked. Could these activities be a poor substitute for simply asking? This is next level prayer!
Question: what prayer practices have you been using as a substitute for asking God for what you desire?
Reference #1: 1 Corinthians 14:13-15 NLT, Bible.com, accessed August 17, 2021, https://www.bible.com/bible/116/1CO.14.13-15.NLT
Reference #2: Acts of the Apostles 6:6 NLT, Bible.com, accessed August 17, 2021, https://www.bible.com/bible/116/ACT.6.6.NLT
Reference #3: Acts of the Apostles 28:8 NLT, Bible.com, accessed August 17, 2021, https://www.bible.com/bible/116/ACT.28.8.NLT
Reference #4: Acts of the Apostles 13:3 NLT, Bible.com, accessed August 17, 2021, https://www.bible.com/bible/116/ACT.13.3.NLT
Reference #5: James 5:14-16 NLT, Bible.com, accessed August 17, 2021, https://www.bible.com/bible/116/JAS.5.14-16.NLT
Reference #6: Matthew 6:17 KJV, Bible.com, accessed August 17, 2021, https://www.bible.com/bible/1/MAT.6.17.KJV
All Scripture references used by permission, see our Scripture copyrights.