The way you pray may be killing you.
Mechelle and I sat together and she began reading a book on prayer. The book began to describe how truly awesome God is. He knows what we need before we even ask. We should not beg or plead with God because it shows that we do not trust Him. It was so well written that I almost bought it. Then reality hit me. This is the worst way to pray. In fact, his kind of prayer can kill you!
Let me show what a mean from another angle. Flight attendants and other service industry people suffer because they are forced to smile all of the time. The stress caused by having to flash one’s teeth at customers can lead to depression, high blood pressure and cardiovascular problems, according to Professor Dieter Zapf of the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University of Frankfurt. Zapf recommends that “professional smilers” take regular breaks to relax, rid themselves of aggression and recuperate from the effort of smiling.
Another danger is bottling up our feelings. Forget about the images you see on T.V. of outrageous self expression by “Occupiers” musicians, social commentators… suffering in silence has become a way of life for most Americans.
A lot of anxiety is created when a person hides this important part of themselves – their feelings. If we make a habit of holding back feelings, they eventually get stuffed deep inside and become a toxin. This can have a negative impact on our overall well-being.
The list of ways you have to hold back your true feelings everyday would amaze you. We have to do it in a hostile work place. Mothers do it at home when wayward youth explode over the least correction. I would calculate that 50% of ministry is biting your tongue. Spurgeon said to be a minister you should have one blind eye, one deaf ear and the skin of a rhinoceros.
It is tragic when prayer becomes one more place where you should hold back your true feelings. The Bible says, “Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully.” 1 Peter 5:7.
So here is how you should start praying:
1. Gossip and complain about people in prayer. You heard me right. I don’t think that any of you would be surprised by the cheap shots that I take. When they don’t come after me they come after my family. As I said, I bite my tongue. But when I get alone with God I pour it out. I express my exact feelings about people and lies they speak.
I tell God how unfair and wrong they are and I even offer clear advice as to what God should do about them. This is not about getting my way but opening my heart. David went way, way farther than I ever would. Psalm 55:15 Let death seize them; Let them go down alive into hell, For wickedness is in their dwellings and among them.” Wow!
You should immediately take all of the lies, the hurts and the injustice in your life to the Lord. Forget all of these wispy platitudes about how you start to pray. Get alone and start pouring out your heart to God. This is not immature or selfish it is what your FATHER wants! It clears your spirit to forgive and move on into deeper intercession.
2. Tell Jesus exactly what you need. The Bible Tells Us That it is Right That We Should Ask God for What We Want and need. The Bible could not be more clear in stating that God does want us to ask for things. God delights in our asking and He delights in delivering good gifts to us. In Matthew 7:11, Jesus tells us, “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” In John 14:14, Jesus promises, “You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” Finally, the apostle Paul tells us in Philippians 4:6, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God”
Bartimeas cried out for healing and Jesus heard his pitiful cry. “Mark 10: 51 So Jesus answered and said to him, “What do you want Me to do for you?” The blind man said to Him, “Rabboni, that I may receive my sight.” Now imagine Bartimeas saying, “you know what I need and I do not want to show distrust by asking.” How crazy would that be?
The kind of prayer I am talking about is seeking the Kingdom of God first so that all of these things can be added unto us. We are never so Kingdom minded as when we race to our loving, Father pour out our hurts and wants and make Him the true source of our life.