If you want to get better at anything we have to practice over and over and over. We have to work at it. When they talk about singing a certain genre in music you have to work on your technique over and over and over. The same thing is true of prayer. Jesus encourages us to always pray and be persistent in our praying. Mother Teresa said “If you want to pray better, you must pray more.”
We get tongue-tied because of distractions. We get tongue-tied because we feel unworthy. We get tongue-tied because we are afraid that we’re not doing it right. When our tongues are tied we have help. Three general principles: Keep it honest, keep it simple, and keep it up.
To purchase a copy of the book click this LINK or the one in the notes.
To hear an audio of Session 8 click on the YouTube link below.
Jurgen Matthesius, from Pray Until Something Happens (PUSH)
If we PUSH in prayer, God results happen. If we are silent, then the enemy triumphs. It’s that simple.
We have established that there are two kingdoms in conflict here on earth and that we are indeed engaged in a battle. One seeks to bring about our heavenly Father’s will, while evil forces seek to oppose His will and reign here on the earth. That is predominantly why PUSH is required.
It is not that God is reluctant in answering prayer; it is that the enemy is resistant!
The Bible has a very simple formula for PUSH that I want to show you.
Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked; far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? — Genesis 18:25
Now let’s talk about changing God’s mind.
What? It’s amazing how many folks feel threatened about the possibility of God changing His mind, because they see it as a crack in His sovereignty, and therefore in their security that “everything that happens is meant to be.”
But we know that God often changes His mind and even relents. Repent and relent are two completely different words and have two completely different meanings. (Relent: abandon or mitigate a harsh intention or cruel treatment. Repent: feel or express sincere regret or remorse about one’s wrongdoing or sin.) God does not repent because He does not sin and is incapable of wrongdoing. He does, however, “relent” again and again throughout the Scripture of judgment or a harsh intention in His wrath.
In Genesis 18, Abraham interceded for Sodom and Gomorrah, which God had determined He would destroy in righteous judgment for their wickedness.
Yet Abraham interceded for the city, specifically for his nephew Lot. God relented from His “plan A” to wipe out the entire city with all its infected inhabitants to a “plan B,” where Lot and his family became the beneficiaries of God’s grace and were saved in the midst of the destruction. Had Abraham not interceded, Lot would have perished. His intercessory prayer released God’s grace upon Lot and his family. The same still happens today.
The devil will convince you that your son or daughter who is on drugs deserves death, calamity, or some other judgment of God, but the devil is a shrewd prosecution attorney who does not disclose the complete truth — he only speaks in partial truths. While that may be right, the heart of God desires mercy, not judgment; and when you intercede for your son or daughter, you move him or her from God’s judgment to God’s mercy.
Psalm 89:14 says,
Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; mercy and truth go before Your face.
There are two sides of God’s throne — one side is judgment, the other mercy. Intercession has the power to move people from one side to the other.
When Jonah preached judgment in Nineveh, the king proclaimed a fast throughout the land and the entire nation repented. What happened next? God relented of His intended judgment and spared the Ninevites.
I love the story of King Hezekiah. The prophet Isaiah was sent to his house and told the king to set his house in order, as he was going to die of the sickness with which he was afflicted. Upon receiving the word of the Lord, the king cried out to God and repented. Then the Lord spoke to Isaiah and told him to go back to the king — God had changed His mind and would extend his life by fifteen years.
The Bible is full of God seemingly changing His mind. What is actually taking place is God willingly moving people from judgment to mercy because there are folks who know His heart and choose to intercede. The whole point of Jesus coming to die upon the cross should be proof enough that God does not desire to give us what we deserve.
But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners. — Matthew 9:13 NIV
Prayer shifts people from God’s judgment to God’s mercy. It’s so powerful, and it is so essential.
Excerpted with permission from Pray Until Something Happens by Jurgen Matthesius, copyright Jurgen Matthesius.
Last week, we talked about how do we learn to speak the same language as God.
If you want to get better at anything we have to practice over and over and over. We have to work at it. When they talk about singing a certain genre in music you have to work on your technique over and over and over. The same thing is true of prayer. Remember we have said in this study that Jesus encourages us to always pray and be persistent in our praying. Mother Teresa said “If you want to pray better, you must pray more.”
Choosing a Routine
If you are going to practice something or work on your technique you need to set up a schedule and a routine so that you do it everyday and hopefully at the same time everyday.
Many people don’t pray because they don’t think they know how to pray. One of the things that happened early on the Prayerline was that Minister Brenda talked about how to approach prayer. Philip says, and I agree, that to enjoy spending time in prayer you need help in learning how to pray. Learning to pray is really like learning any new thing you need something or someone to teach or train you. The disciples likely knew all the Jewish prayers yet they asked Jesus to teach them to pray. Over 600 prayers in the Bible.
Psalms, Paul's prayers, conversations that people had with God like Abraham, Moses, many of the king's, the prophets, Jesus. Prayers for every emotion.
We often don’t pray because we don’t know what to say or how to say it or we feel uncomfortable. It’s like becoming tongue-tied. We know that we want to say something but we can’t get it out.
Reality not flawless technique is the goal.
We get tongue-tied because of Distractions
It often happens that when we decide that we are going to have some quiet time to read the Bible and pray that all sorts of things come up. The phone rings, somebody comes to the door. In my case the dog starts barking. Then we’re distracted and when we try to get back to reading or praying our mind starts to wander. We start remembering the things we forgot to do or thinking about the things we need to get done. The great Martin Luther even had that problem. Here’s what he wrote:
When I would speak and pray to God by myself, a hundred thousand hindrances at once intervene before I get at it. Then the devil can throw all sorts of reasons for delay in my path; he can block and hinder me on all sides; as a result, I go my way and never think of it again. Resolve to pray earnestly, and no doubt you will see how large an assortment of your own thoughts will rush in on you and distract you, so that you cannot begin aright.
You may want to try some things to help you deal with distractions;
- Turn off the phone
- When a thought comes into your mind don’t dwell on it write it down and put it aside
- Try to pray about the thought or thing that distracted you.
What things do you suggest or have tried?
Technique isn’t really important anyway. When you talk to a friend you’re not really thinking about how you should say something. If it’s really important to you you will call no matter what time it is. You just do it. The technique to deal with distractions may not work anyway.
I found this comment very interesting and logical. This from a British theologian Herbert McCabe:
“People often complain of ‘distractions’ during prayer. Their mind goes wandering off on to other things. This is nearly always due to praying for something you do not really much want; you just think it would be proper and respectable and ‘religious’ to want it. So you pray high mindedly for big but distant things like peace in Northern Ireland or you pray that your aunt will get better from the flu - when in fact you do not much care about these things’ perhaps you ought to, but you don’t. And so your prayer is rapidly invaded by distractions arising from what you really do want - promotion at work, let us say. Distractions are nearly always your real wants breaking in on your prayer for edifying but bogus wants. If you are distracted, trace your distraction back to the real desires it comes from and prayer about these. When you are praying for what you really want you will not be distracted. People on sinking ships do not complain of distractions during their prayer”.
A fourteenth-century Englishman, his name unknown, wrote a classic book about communicating with God calledThe Cloud of Unknowing . Before penetrating the cloud of unknowing above us, he said, we may need to imagine a “cloud of forgetting” beneath us. Forget past failures, forget recurring sins, forget feelings of inferiority, and instead open your mind to God, who cannot fill what hasn't been emptied.
We get tongue-tied because we feel unworthy
We’ve talked about feeling unworthy to talk to a Holy God. To get over this we have to realize that God, through Jesus, has declared us righteous, no matter what we’ve done, so we can come to God as we are not waiting to get right If feeling unworthy is your reason for not praying then confess that fact. Say Father I haven’t talked to you because I’m unworthy. Forgive me for those things that make me unworthy. Name them if you can. If you can’t think of anything then confess that too and ask for forgiveness. By doing that you activate one of God’s promises.
1 John 1:8-10 (NLT)8 If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth.9 But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.10 If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.
None of us is worthy apart from Jesus anyway but because of His sacrificial work on the cross God considers those who accepted that work as being done for them, as righteous.
Luke 5:32 (NLT)32 I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent.”
Romans 5:8 (NLT)8 But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.
Romans 5:10 (NLT)10 For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son.
If you know that God forgives us and considers us righteous then we don’t need to feel unworthy and Scripture tells us that God hears the prayers of the righteous.
Proverbs 15:29 (NLT)29 The LORD is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayers of the righteous.
Psalm 34:17 (NKJV)17 The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears, And delivers them out of all their troubles.
Here are some prayers of people who we would say were unworthy at the time they prayed.
Numbers 11:10-17 (NLT)10 Moses heard all the families standing in the doorways of their tents whining, and the LORD became extremely angry.
Moses was also very aggravated.11 And Moses said to the LORD, “Why are you treating me, your servant, so harshly? Have mercy on me! What did I do to deserve the burden of all these people?12 Did I give birth to them? Did I bring them into the world? Why did you tell me to carry them in my arms like a mother carries a nursing baby? How can I carry them to the land you swore to give their ancestors?13 Where am I supposed to get meat for all these people? They keep whining to me, saying, ‘Give us meat to eat!’14 I can’t carry all these people by myself! The load is far too heavy!15 If this is how you intend to treat me, just go ahead and kill me. Do me a favor and spare me this misery!”
16 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Gather before me seventy men who are recognized as elders and leaders of Israel. Bring them to the Tabernacle to stand there with you.17 I will come down and talk to you there. I will take some of the Spirit that is upon you, and I will put the Spirit upon them also. They will bear the burden of the people along with you, so you will not have to carry it alone.
Judges 16:28-30 (NLT)28 Then Samson prayed to the LORD, “Sovereign LORD, remember me again. O God, please strengthen me just one more time. With one blow let me pay back the Philistines for the loss of my two eyes.”29 Then Samson put his hands on the two center pillars that held up the temple. Pushing against them with both hands,30 he prayed, “Let me die with the Philistines.”
And the temple crashed down on the Philistine rulers and all the people. So he killed more people when he died than he had during his entire lifetime.
The sailors on Jonah’s ship
Jonah 1:14-16 (NLT)14 Then they cried out to the LORD, Jonah’s God. “O LORD,” they pleaded, “don’t make us die for this man’s sin. And don’t hold us responsible for his death. O LORD, you have sent this storm upon him for your own good reasons.”
15 Then the sailors picked Jonah up and threw him into the raging sea, and the storm stopped at once!16 The sailors were awestruck by the LORD’s great power, and they offered him a sacrifice and vowed to serve him.
Looks like God answered the prayers of someone who worshiped other Gods, so it appears that God may answer prayers of people who are not saved. Now we know that He always answers the prayer asking for forgiveness and salvation but it looks like He answers other prayer too. My opinion in this case is that they thought they were appeasing Jonah’s God.
Jonah 2:1-10 (NLT)1 Then Jonah prayed to the LORD his God from inside the fish.2 He said, “I cried out to the LORD in my great trouble, and he answered me. I called to you from the land of the dead, and LORD, you heard me!3 You threw me into the ocean depths, and I sank down to the heart of the sea. The mighty waters engulfed me; I was buried beneath your wild and stormy waves.4 Then I said, ‘O LORD, you have driven me from your presence. Yet I will look once more toward your holy Temple.’5 “I sank beneath the waves, and the waters closed over me. Seaweed wrapped itself around my head.6 I sank down to the very roots of the mountains. I was imprisoned in the earth, whose gates lock shut forever. But you, O LORD my God, snatched me from the jaws of death!7 As my life was slipping away, I remembered the LORD. And my earnest prayer went out to you in your holy Temple.8 Those who worship false gods turn their backs on all God’s mercies.9 But I will offer sacrifices to you with songs of praise, and I will fulfill all my vows. For my salvation comes from the LORD alone.”
10 Then the LORD ordered the fish to spit Jonah out onto the beach.
Psalm 51:1-19 (NLT)1 Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins.2 Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin.3 For I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night.4 Against you, and you alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight. You will be proved right in what you say, and your judgment against me is just.5 For I was born a sinner— yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.6 But you desire honesty from the womb, teaching me wisdom even there.7 Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.8 Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me— now let me rejoice.9 Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt.10 Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me.11 Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me.12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.13 Then I will teach your ways to rebels, and they will return to you.14 Forgive me for shedding blood, O God who saves; then I will joyfully sing of your forgiveness.15 Unseal my lips, O Lord, that my mouth may praise you.16 You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering.17 The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.18 Look with favor on Zion and help her; rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.19 Then you will be pleased with sacrifices offered in the right spirit— with burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings. Then bulls will again be sacrificed on your altar.
Acts 13:22 (NLT) But God removed Saul and replaced him with David, a man about whom God said, ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart. He will do everything I want him to do.’
2 Kings 21:1-3 (NLT)1 Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-five years. His mother was Hephzibah.2 He did what was evil in the LORD’s sight, following the detestable practices of the pagan nations that the LORD had driven from the land ahead of the Israelites.3 He rebuilt the pagan shrines his father, Hezekiah, had destroyed. He constructed altars for Baal and set up an Asherah pole, just as King Ahab of Israel had done. He also bowed before all the powers of the heavens and worshiped them.
2 Chronicles 33:10-13 (NLT)10 The LORD spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they ignored all his warnings.11 So the LORD sent the commanders of the Assyrian armies, and they took Manasseh prisoner. They put a ring through his nose, bound him in bronze chains, and led him away to Babylon.12 But while in deep distress, Manasseh sought the LORD his God and sincerely humbled himself before the God of his ancestors.13 And when he prayed, the LORD listened to him and was moved by his request.
So the LORD brought Manasseh back to Jerusalem and to his kingdom. Then Manasseh finally realized that the LORD alone is God!
The Unworthy Tax Collector
Luke 18:10-14 (NLT)10 “Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector.11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not a sinner like everyone else. For I don’t cheat, I don’t sin, and I don’t commit adultery. I’m certainly not like that tax collector!12 I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’14 I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Feeling unworthy shouldn’t make us tongue-tied especially when we start our prayer with confession and asking for forgiveness.
“Forget past failures, forget recurring sins, forget feelings of inferiority, and instead open your mind to God, who cannot fill what has not been emptied”.
We get tongue-tied because we are afraid that we’re not doing it right
We’ve all seen people that can really pray. They are eloquent, calm, seem to have all the right words, can remember the right people and seem to have it all together in prayer. They seen to always have praise reports about answered prayer (or so they tell you) When we compare them to ourselves and most or none of our prayers have been answered we think that we must not be doing it right.
We shouldn’t be concerned about comparing the way that we pray with others. We need to realize that in order for prayer be a good experience for us and something that we look forward to doing we have to do it in a way that matches our personality and our life circumstances. Are we married? Are we married with children? Are we a caregiver for a relative or loved one. We are all different and have different personalities so it just seems logical that our conversations with God are unique to us.
I pray laying in bed in the morning and at night. I sometimes pray when I’m driving. I walk on Tuesday and I pray then. I use to pray, for a while, in my office at work every morning. I interrupt my morning Bible and devotional reading to pray. That sometimes leads me to write something or post something on social media. Yes those are distractions but I sometimes use those distractions and pray about them, like we talked about earlier.
Some of us talk more than others so our prayers are longer. Some of us don’t talk much at all, so our prayers are short. That’s just the way we are and to try to make ourselves talk more ends us frustrating us because we can’t think of anything to say. I have a daughter-in-law that can talk for hours on the phone and I do mean hours I usually want to get of the phone as soon as possible. Not because I don’t love her or the person that I’m talking to I just don’t like talking on the phone.
I personally agree with Martin Luther, who averaged two hours or prayer every day, when he said “The fewer the words, the better the prayer”
Jesus teaching boiled the method of prayer down to three general principles:
Keep it honest - We talked in our last study about keeping it real
The Risk of Being Real
Our friendship with God deepens when we risk being open and honest as we talk with Him.
Hebrews 4:16 (NKJV) Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
We shouldn’t cover up our emotions in order to look like “good Christians”.
Jesus Himself showed emotion in prayer
Matthew 26:36-46 (NKJV)36 Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, "Sit here while I go and pray over there."37 And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed.38 Then He said to them, "My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me."39 He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, "O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will."40 Then He came to the disciples and found them asleep, and said to Peter, "What? Could you not watch with Me one hour?41 Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."42 Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, "O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done."43 And He came and found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy.44 So He left them, went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.45 Then He came to His disciples and said to them, "Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners.46 Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand."
Apart from requirement that we be authentic before God there is no prescribed way to pray. Each of us has our own personality, outlook on life, training, gifts, weaknesses, strengths, church experiences, and our own experiences with God. What’s important is not how you pray. “If you are praying, you are already doing it right.
Keep it simple
The Lord’s prayer is very simple
Keep it up
We've talked about persistence.
Luke 11:5-13 (NLT)5 Then, teaching them more about prayer, he used this story: “Suppose you went to a friend’s house at midnight, wanting to borrow three loaves of bread. You say to him,6 ‘A friend of mine has just arrived for a visit, and I have nothing for him to eat.’7 And suppose he calls out from his bedroom, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is locked for the night, and my family and I are all in bed. I can’t help you.’8 But I tell you this—though he won’t do it for friendship’s sake, if you keep knocking long enough, he will get up and give you whatever you need because of your shameless persistence.9 “And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.10 For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.11 “You fathers—if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead?12 Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not!13 So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.”
Luke 18:1-8 (NKJV)1 Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart,2 saying: "There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man.3 Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, 'Get justice for me from my adversary.'4 And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, 'Though I do not fear God nor regard man,5 yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.' "6 Then the Lord said, "Hear what the unjust judge said.7 And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them?8 I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?"
When our tongues are tied we have help
The Holy Spirit helps
If all else fails, we know that the Holy Spirit will help us when we’re stuck and don’t know what to say or how to say it.
Romans 8:26-27 (NLT)26 And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.27 And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.
Our Advocate Jesus helps and He allows us to use His Name
1 John 2:1 (NLT)1 My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous.
Hebrews 7:25 (NLT)25 Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf.
Here is some of what I wrote in a Blog Post
Praying in Jesus’ name literally means praying with in the authority He has given us. He has given us the authority to ask the Father to act on our prayers because we come in His name.
Think of it this way. Jesus’ name is a key, and if you have the key I doesn’t matter if the key belongs to you or not, as long as you have it you can open the lock. The power belongs to Jesus but he has given you His key.
Matthew 28:18-20 (NKJV)18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.
Just as an Ambassador has the authority to speak for the leader of a nation we can speak with the authority of Jesus. It is just as if Jesus Himself was talking.
2 Corinthians 5:20-21 (NLT)20 So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”21 For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.
Praying in Jesus’ name is praying for things that will honor and glorify Him. Praying in Jesus' name means the same thing as praying according to the will of God,
1 John 5:14-15 (NLT)14 And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him.15 And since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for.
Three general principles: Keep it honest, keep it simple, and keep it up.
Next week Sound of Silence!