Praying with a purpose

Edward McKendree Bounds was a Methodist minister, revivalist, author and lawyer.

Unsuccessful in the California gold rush of 1849, E.M. Bounds returned home to Missouri and became the state’s youngest practicing attorney at age 19. In his early twenties he was deeply impacted by the Third Great Awakening, and at age 24 he was ordained for ministry. During his lifetime he pastored churches, traveled

Edward McKendree Bounds was a Methodist minister, revivalist, author and lawyer.

Unsuccessful in the California gold rush of 1849, E.M. Bounds returned home to Missouri and became the state’s youngest practicing attorney at age 19. In his early twenties he was deeply impacted by the Third Great Awakening, and at age 24 he was ordained for ministry. During his lifetime he pastored churches, traveled as an evangelist, served as a Civil War chaplain, edited a Christian periodical and was a devoted husband and father. But E.M. Bounds is best known for prayer. His daily habit was to spend the time between 4 am and 7 am praying. His writings on prayer are widely acclaimed to be among the finest of any author before or since.


I sure hope you have a desire to know the Lord more today than you did yesterday.  You can’t know someone unless you spend time with that person.  Hearing about someone is not the same as meeting with that person.  In Sunday school we learn about Jesus, the words of God, and about characters in the Bible.  This is great but it is nothing like having time alone with God.

The nice part about spending time with God is that you don’t need an appointment, a new outfit, or a taxi or bus ride to get there.  You can meet with God anytime and anywhere.  You can even wear your old clothes.  He doesn’t mind.

So far, we’ve discussed five different parts of prayer: praise, waiting, watching, confession, and intercession.  Some of these might sound like difficult tasks, but they are not.  If you’ve added any of these to your prayer life, I’m sure your time with God has increased and meant more to you.

Today we’re going to talk about Scripture praying.  What is that?  Well, it’s taking a passage of scripture that you might have read or a verse that has a promise of God in it, and taking it to God.  Today I read, James 4:8, “Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you…”  So, I prayed something like this, “Lord, I am doing my best at this moment to be closer to You and to know You.  Please draw nearer to me as you promised in James 4:8.  Help me to know that the distance between us is always up to me, I must take the first step, be humble, and know that You are there.”

Does that make sense?  The next part of a verse says, “

Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye doubleminded.”  We must ask God to cleanse our sinful actions and to purify our hearts of known and unknown sin.  We cannot be doubleminded about the things of God.  We can’t have the attitude of having a second path to take if this one doesn’t go exactly our way.
Scripture praying is agreeing with the words of God.  Going to God with His promises.  And having the faith to believe God will do His will in our lives.

I have to be the first to admit that my prayer life is rather sucky to say the least. Not only do I not pray as much as I ought to, but I don’t pray as deeply as I ought to either. There are a lot of reasons why. I’m busy. I’m lazy. I’d rather do something else. But I think part of why I suck at praying is because most of the time, I think of it in an incorrect way. Maybe I’m not as bad as others, but I know I’m not very good either way. And I’d like to change that.

First of all, what is the point of prayer? That’s kind of a deep question, so we will answer it in a few different ways. First, what are some problems with how we, as a Church and as individuals, view and/or portray prayer? Second, what makes good prayer? And third, some helpful tips that have been shared with me that I will pass on.

First, prayer is often seen as our grocery list that we take to God. It often consists of asking for persons x, y, z to be healed from whatever ailment, physical, emotional, spiritual, that they are facing. Or maybe asking for help with things in our own lives. While these aren’t necessarily bad, who said that the purpose of this life was to be healthy all the time and happy? Not Jesus, that’s for sure. Prayer for many of us is a monologue. We speak prayer, as if it was a language, to no one in particular and act like we are talking to God. We don’t actually expect a response. Of course there’s much more that can be said, but these are some of the main issues.

Second, good prayer really is easier than what we see above. Honesty is essential. I mentioned earlier that sometimes I just don’t feel like praying for whatever reason. Guess what!? It’s ok to tell God that in a prayer. He would prefer you to be honest that to fake pray or not pray at all. Maybe we should pray about stuff we really care about, even if it seems mundane to others. Again, honesty is something that God values. As to the grocery list issue, think of things this way: When we pray for someone to be healed, our goal shouldn’t be merely that they feel better because we don’t want them to feel bad. Rather, the purpose of healing is to glorify God. Rather than praying for a healing, pray that in that situation, God’s glory can be manifested to it’s greatest potential. But make sure you honestly mean that. As I mentioned, prayer speak is a major issue in the Church. We lift up these lofty prayers with words we never use except in a prayer. Why? To sound better? Prayer is supposed to be a dialogue, a conversation, not a speech. Pray like you would speak to your dad, because God is your heavenly dad (have you ever called your dad “father”? Speak to him like a friend).

Here’s a little list of some tips I was given on things that can help your prayer life:
-Posture your prayer: Kneeling, prostrate, walking in a place of solitude.
-Give your prayer an address: If write a letter, you write “To (insert name here),” who are you praying to? Master, Lord, Dad, Father, God…
-Check yourself for honesty: Do you mean what you are saying or just trying to prayer speak? He knows.
-Take time to be still: “Be still and know that I am God.”
-Let your passion for God rise to the surface: If you are excited, God likes to know that, especially when it relates to him.
-Speak your heart cry to God: Genuine spiritual need where you struggle
-Ask that the conversation continue: This is an eternal dialogue.

About sorentmd

I am a student at the University of Cincinnati and am majoring in Philosophy and Marketing. I love the Lord, and I try to live my life in a way that pleases Him.

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Be persistent and devoted to prayer, being alert and focused in your prayer life with an attitude of thanksgiving.  Colossians 4:2 (AMP)

I like spontaneity as much as the next gal, but let’s face it, “winging it” doesn’t always give us the results we want. If I need an operation, I definitely want doctors who studied hard and know what they’re doing. No spontaneous gall bladder removals, please. Attending a symphony where everyone in the orchestra just shows up without bothering to practice their parts would be … excruciatingly awful, actually. And please, dear airline pilot, put in all those hours of flight time before you fly me across the country! Usually, people need to be prepared and disciplined to accomplish a mission.

It’s the same with the mission of Moms in Prayer International—a mission with an eternal purpose—praying for our children and grandchildren that they will walk with Christ. It’s not a calling to take on lightly. In fact, this mission drives me to show up each week and to pray effectively. That’s why I love our prayer sheet that keeps us focused on the Four Steps of Prayer.

  • Each step of prayer is designed to prepare us for the purposeful work of intercession for our children and those who influence them in their schools.
  • By being purposeful and following a format, we stay in prayer. No wandering off topic, no chatting about the latest weather report. No sir. We come to pray. The prayer sheet keeps us disciplined and talking to the living God who cares.
  • With a prayer sheet to follow, everyone knows what’s coming next, and all can join in prayer with greater understanding than they would if each individual were just doing her own thing.
  • The prayer sheet keeps us focused on the heart of the matter, making sure we name teachers and schools as well as our own children, calling us to selfless prayer for others.
  • By praying for Moms in Prayer concerns, we are reminded weekly that we are part of a beautiful sisterhood of believers around the world who are all on a mission to ask God to raise up a generation of Christ-followers after us. It’s inspiring!
  • That little reminder at the bottom of every sheet keeps us disciplined in confidentiality.

I often pray spontaneous prayers as I go about my day, asking God for help in the mundane and in the profound things of life that pass my way. I love walking with Him and “winging a prayer” to Him whenever there is a need.

But when I’m getting down to the specific business of praying with others for the next generation to know the living God … I want a prayer sheet. I want structure. I want to be on a mission with others who feel as I do as we storm the gates of heaven for the very lives of our children.

I thank God for the discipline that the Four Steps of Prayer have brought to my intercessory prayer life.

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Sharon Gamble is former Moms in Prayer USA Director and founder of Sweet Selah Ministries. She is a frequent speaker on the subject of prayer at ladies’ groups and conferences and she loves to share from both personal experience and from the Word of God on the value and necessity of prayer. Sharon and her husband Ray have two daughters, Kathryn and Mary, two sons-in-law, Brandon and Angel, and an ever-growing number of adorable grandchildren. Sharon will also be speaking at Unshaken Oklahoma.

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