“One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up. 2 “There was a judge in a certain city,” he said, “who neither feared God nor cared about people. 3 A widow of that city came to him repeatedly, saying, ‘Give me justice in this dispute with my enemy.’ 4 The judge ignored her for a while, but finally he said to himself, ‘I don’t fear God or care about people, 5 but this woman is driving me crazy. I’m going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!'” 6 Then the Lord said, “Learn a lesson from this unjust judge. 7 Even he rendered a just decision in the end. So, don’t you think God will surely give justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8 I tell you; he will grant justice to them quickly! But when the Son of Man returns, how many will he find on the earth who have faith?” – Luke 18:1-8 NLT
The Persistence Quotient
In standardized math tests, Japanese children consistently score higher than their American counterparts. While some assume that a natural proclivity toward mathematics is the primary difference, researchers have discovered that it may have more to do with effort than ability. In fact, another study was done evaluating first graders who were given a difficult puzzle to solve. The Americans tried for 9.47 minutes and the Japanese children lasted 13.93 minutes. In other words, the Japanese children tried 40% longer. Is it any wonder that they scored higher on math exams?
Researchers concluded that the difference between math scores had less to do with intelligence quotient and more to do with persistence quotient. The Japanese first graders simply tried harder. (Look to The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson, Chapter eight to learn more about being consistent and persistent in prayer.)
Essentially, I have discovered this difference to be true in life in general, whether in sports, art, music, hands on labor jobs, or the financial sector. There is no denying that innate ability dictates some of your upside potential, however your potential is only tapped via persistent effort. Persistence is the magic bullet. And the magic number to become extremely proficient seems to be about ten thousand hours of effort. Those who practice something approximately ten thousand times have the potential to become elite in their particular skill.
If I am reading the parable correctly, prayer is no different! Prayer is a habit to cultivate, a discipline to develop, and a skill to be practiced.
After reading The Circle Maker I felt like the prophet Samuel who considered it a sin not to pray for the Jews who were requesting a king. Prayerlessness struck me as I read Batterson’s most illuminating and convicting book. I highly recommend it if you desire to improve your prayer life.
“Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good and the right way.”
– 1 Samuel 12:23 NKJV
Types of Prayers in the Scriptures
Below are several categories of prayer. Be prepared to circle one or two that resonate with you and practice that kind of prayer.
“as we pray most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith? – 1 Thessalonians 3:10 ESV
Pray Without Ceasing
“Never stop praying.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:17 NLT
Intercession Prayer: Intercede until God Intervenes.
“Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died–more than that, who was raised to life–is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” – Romans 8:34 NIV
“But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who [is] in the secret [place]; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” – Matthew 6:6 NKJV
Pray According to God’s Will
“Again I say to you, that if two believers on earth agree [that is, are of one mind, in harmony] about anything that they ask [within the will of God], it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.” – Matthew 18:19 AMP
Pray in the Power of the Holy Spirit
“But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit,” – Jude 1:20 NLT
Historically I have walked and prayed most of my life in Christ. Here are a few samples:
• While in seminary, I circled the Mt. Tabor Reservoir and prayed for our family, our future, and memorized 103 different proverbs.
• When establishing Rolling Hills, I ran around the West Linn High School track and prayed for each family per lap in our fledgling new church. I hand wrote out their names including children using 3×5 cards.
• In our North Portland and West Linn neighborhoods, Linda and I prayed as we walked our children in the stroller for each house we passed.
• In our apartment in Dallas, Texas I prayed from room to room and at the entry door renouncing a specific demonic attack of overwhelming fear. There is more to this story☺!
• On the OSU campus as I walked across the Memorial Union Mall, I claimed students and teachers for Jesus Christ.
• As I walked by and through the halls of McNary dormitory requesting the Lord for the men in the rooms I passed.
Prayer of Faith
“And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.” – James 5:15 NKJV
Prayer of a Righteous Man
“Confess [your] trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” – James 5:16 NKJV
Prayer Reading or Praying the Promises of God
I was introduced to the concept of “prayer reading” while being a youth pastor in San Clemente, California. In essence we read and pray a particular scripture out loud for ourselves, others, our nation, and the world. Mark Batterson, in his most famous book, The Circle Maker, calls this hyperlinking prayer: that is linking your prayers to the promises of God.
Sometimes, if you are like me, you run out of words to pray. Am I the only one☺? If you engage in the marvelous practice of prayer reading you WILL NOT run out of words to pray. Besides that, why should God honor my words and thoughts when we can pray His Words and Thoughts?
Let’s Get Stated
From the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) read out loud a section like the Beatitudes and pray out loud the words of the text. Here is how I would do it but of course your words will be different.
“Blessed [spiritually prosperous, happy, to be admired] are the poor in spirit [those devoid of spiritual arrogance, those who regard themselves as insignificant], for theirs is the kingdom of heaven [both now and forever].” – Matthew 5:3 AMP
My Prayer for Myself:
Lord Jesus Christ, I recognize my brokenness before You. I am in desperate need of you because left to myself I will bring ruin. I admit my arrogance and exaggerated view of myself. Please forgive me. I know you do through your work on the cross. THANK YOU!
I pray that I will experience your kingdom (rule and reign) in and through me. Specifically, that your kingdom power will be released in me to speak truth to others, listen attentively to others so that I may step through the open door to their heart.
From Paul’s Prayer for the saints in Ephesus:
“I cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; 17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him…” – Ephesians 1:16, 17 KJV
After reading it out loud my prayer for another person:
Yahweh God, I thank you for _______________. He or she, has stayed true to you in their walk of obedience. Thank you that their reputation is spreading out among Christian and non-Christian alike! I am believing that they will receive from you, your wisdom and revelation of who you are and what you desire to accomplish through them. I pray that they will receive fresh illumination and profound insight regarding the things you are revealing to them. I am anticipating a powerful manifestation of your wisdom to be displayed through them. I the name of Christ I pray!
Actions to take:
- From Luke 18:1-8 what is the Holy Spirit prompting you to do?
- If you need to repent of your prayerlessness do so now and THANK HIM for forgiving you.
- Select one or two prayer categories and earnestly pray.
- Please attempt to participate in the prayer reading practice. Share your actions, thoughts, and reactions with someone regarding your efforts, answered prayers or any other truth you are learning.
Praying with You!
In the name of Christ,