Shut Up and Pray

Why Next Level Prayer Can Be Like Starting Over?

Prayer 101 – Part 4

In most college level courses the professor issues a syllabus. In that syllabus often, the amount of time required outside of class is provided. In other words, the student attends the regular class time and the professor provides an estimate on how many hours per week outside of class attendance a student will need to spend on the material. This is what it means by in-class hours versus outside-of-class hours. Using this analogy, I want you to think of prayer in terms of how much work it takes. I want you to get it out of your head that prayer doesn’t take much work. I will speak to this in later segments, but prayer isn’t easy. In fact, prayer takes a lot of work. Therefore it takes time. The average person isn’t a pray-er, a person who prays. The average person is an occasional, when I get in trouble or when I have trouble that comes my way, pray-er. So, let’s discuss the time it takes if you plan to go to the next level and get beyond occasional prayer.

What kind of work are we putting into prayer?
Before I begin, the numbers that I’m about to share with you came from the most dedicated and committed pray-ers (people who pray) that I know. With that said, these numbers exceed what individuals will normally practice when it comes to prayer. You see, I want to use the best in order to illustrate that average isn’t good enough. Let’s get started and you’ll understand what I mean.

Would you say that the average person prays everyday?
Before ever being asked such a question, you’d love to say that the average person, in this case believer, prays every day. I know I did. I would love to believe that the majority of the people I go to church with pray everyday. So I asked the best pray-ers (people who pray), do you pray every day, the majority of the time? And one by one, reluctantly, we came to the realization that this answer is ‘no.’ This led us to discuss this even more. There are days during the week that a prayer-warrior, intercessor, experienced prayer person does not pray. This wasn’t intentional, we all as pray-ers intend on praying everyday. Then I asked this question, so out of seven days, how many days would you say that we pray on average. The group of individuals agreed on five. So out of the best pray-ers that we know, we consistently pray five days out of a seven day week. Now then, what would this look like for a typical believer, one who’s calling or passion isn’t for prayer? If the best attain a five out of seven days of consistent prayer, what does it look like for an average person, the 099 level prayer person?

What does prayer for the average person look like?
To discuss what it looks like for the average person, let’s further define the five days out of the week that we consistently pray as experienced pray-ers. In this way, we will pretend that an average person prays five out of seven days, although we know that’s not the case. So, what does that look like?

  1. Prayer on Sunday.
    While most believers who are asked such a question begin with Sunday in service. I’d like to start here as well. Did you know that in a church service, most individuals don’t pray? How’s that? I’m glad you asked. We participate in prayer. We might close our eyes and bow our heads, but most if you’re honest rarely pray while at church on Sunday. There are a number of reasons for this which we don’t have time to get into now. The average person is prayed for, not doing the praying. So, can Sunday be included as one of the five out of seven days in which we pray?
  2. Prayer at dinner each day.
    Dinner prayers have to be the best. They’re the best because they are the most consistent of the times used to prompt one to prayer. However, the average person and even the best pray-ers recite the same prayer over their meals each and every time. While this is prayer, when do we cover anything differently in prayer? When will we use this dedicated time of prayer to go to the next level? Can this even be considered prayer the way we do it? How many times this week have you skipped prayer over your meals?
  3. Prayer at bedtime each day.
    Prayer at bedtime is almost the same as prayer at dinner. It’s not quite as consistent for us as we sometimes skip it or are too tired for the activity of prayer at this time. Again, we recite a memorized set of lines before we go to bed or when we get up in the morning. So, I ask again when do you really get to offer requests up to God, if the above make up the majority of your prayers? If you pray the same things over and over again, how would you cover new things in prayer? I must ask again, how often does a person really pray? How many times this week have you missed your bed-time or morning prayer?
    By the way, don’t forget this is next level prayer! Don’t be offended because this message is going to help you grow and take prayer to the next level.

Now that we know how and when we get a prayer in, what’s the average length of our prayers? This will get good once you begin to see these pieces fit together. Remember, I asked the best pray-ers, prayer warriors, I know. On the average five minutes is the length of prayer, if five minutes. Most individuals can’t pray five minutes or more. They run out of things to pray or recite since we believe reciting lines we know is prayer. Remember I said prayer isn’t easy, but it doesn’t have to be hard either. So allow me to tell you about the day I began the course of Prayer 101 myself, the day I began to take prayer to the next level.

Begin your course in Prayer 101.
It was 2001, the year of the September 11 attacks on the United States. Back then I had this little white Escort GT that I paid $500 for. My brother knew this drug addict who would do anything to get his hands on some money and in looking out for him, he helped the guy sell his car for the best possible amount. In other words, this addict would have sold his car for much less. He called knowing that I could use another vehicle since mine wasn’t working and I paid $500 cash for this car. He also knew that I would return the car back to the guy he was trying to help if it came down to it.

At any rate, the car had a terrible radio which worked inconsistently. Because of this, I created a habit of not listening to the radio and praying in my car each day on my commute to the office. By the way, I still have a habit of praying daily on my commute to the office. 

Before I paint the picture for you, let me add that I was trained in the church world to pray out loud and very aggressively. So, imagine this, I would quote many scriptures and other churchie phrases and carry on for 15-30 minutes if necessary. I recall we, our church, were all students of Pastor Creflo Dollar’s teaching on “How to Pray for an Hour?” (Side note: Looking back today I’m probably one of the few who actually took that seriously and literally.) Back to the story, as I was going for it, I heard God speak to me. Before I mention what He said, the words He used were necessary for me to hear and changed my ways (that’s called repentance, for my churchie readers). Here’s what He said. “Shut up!”

Now being a little surprised I did what any other churchie-believer would do. I bind the devil for interrupting my prayer and my thoughts. Then God said it again, “shut up, I no longer want you to pray like that.” Next, He said stop the car, go around to the passenger side and let Me in. Of course this was symbolic as He was/is always with me as He’s always with you. Next He said, “talk to me as if I was sitting in the car right next to you.” Sobering thought, right?!

So I took off driving again and began my course in Prayer 101.

I said, Lord, I don’t know what to say and that’s when prayer was truly born in my heart. All along I thought I had been praying and when God spoke to me and asked me to talk to Him, I didn’t know what to say. I had been quoting scripture verses and saying all the churchie phrases I’d been talking over the years and here it is I’d not prayed. It was in this experience where I began to have a conversation with God. More often than not I would revert back to my old rituals and He’d remind me that He is in the car with me. If God were seated next to you in your car, what would you say to Him? What would you ask Him? How would you feel to know He was in the front seat with you? How long would that conversation last? 

Before you begin to get back to your rituals that you call prayer, give this a try. Speak to God as if He was right there seated next to you. Speak with Him as if He is going through the situation with you. This is…next-level prayer!

If you had God seated next to You, how often would you speak with Him? If He showed up every time you were alone in your car, would you talk to Him? If while you were in the shower, He sat on the bathroom sink keeping you company what would you reveal to Him? If He ran alongside you when you took your morning or evening jog or walk, what would you say? If He walked with you as you mowed your lawn, would you remain silent? What would you do if He sat across from you while sat and ate your lunch alone? Would you remain silent? Would you actually quote scripture verses to Him? Would you actually recite lines you memorized if God showed up to have a conversation with you?

Questions: what would happen to your time of prayer if you opened the door and let God in?

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