Editor’s Note: Pastor Roger Barrier’s “Ask Roger” column regularly appears at Preach It, Teach It. Every week at Crosswalk, Dr. Barrier puts nearly 40 years of experience in the pastorate to work answering questions of doctrine or practice for laypeople, or giving advice on church leadership issues. Email him your questions at [email protected].
Is there any one thing that I’m not doing now that might transform my prayer life?
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Yes! Practice praying a spiritual prayer.
A spiritual prayer is based upon biblical passages which focus on our bodies, souls, and human spirits. We are three-part creatures.
”May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:23).
“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow (body) it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
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Regarding our bodies, we are all concerned about praying for healthy bodies, for others as well as for ourselves.
Some prayers originate in our souls. Our soul is the essence of who we are. We feel, think and make choices in our souls. In our souls we pray for people and things. Praying through a “prayer list” is an example of prayers that originate in our souls.
Most of us are not so familiar with praying in our inner-human spirit. At the moment of our conversion, God the Holy Spirit takes up residence in our human spirit. The human spirit is where we commune with God and experience true worship. Our human spirit prompts us to pray in our souls for things that are not on our “prayer list.”
1. A spiritual prayer begins with praise.
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Praise occurs when we tell God and others how impressed we are with God’s majestic character. Praise means focusing upon his love, compassion, mercy, righteousness, purity and holiness.
Praise also occurs when we call to mind the demonstrations of his awesome power. He stood on the edge of nothingness and spoke the universe into existence! He turned the Nile into blood, split the Red Sea, and resurrected Jesus from the dead.
Finally, praise occurs when we thank God for both his character and power.
As we praise him for his marvelous character and awesome power, our faith is stimulated. We are encouraged that he is able to handle, in a loving way, any difficulty that comes our way.
2. We quiet our souls.
We refuse to let our minds run away in multiple, uncontrolled directions.
“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).
Fortunately, we have complete control as to whether we want to quiet down our souls or not. David wrote:
“My heart is not proud, Lord, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. But I have calmed and quieted myself, like a child quieted and its mother’s breast; like a child that is quieted is my soul” (Psalm 131:1-3 RSV).
3. We enter into a time of mindful meditation.
Meditation means that we quiet everything down as we prepare ourselves to enter the throne room of Heaven.
As we seek to pray spiritual prayers, we focus cut on biblical and godly themes.
For example, imagine Psalm 23, Jesus is your Shepherd. Imagine what he may look like. Do you picture him in a brown robe with long chestnut colored hair? He’s wearing sandals. You look up into his eyes as he looks down into yours. He’s smiling. Can you sense his love and compassion? Are you sensing his mercy and care? Imagine him putting his arms around you as he tells you how much he cares for you.
Are you anxious? Meditate for awhile on 1 Peter 5:7: “Cast your anxieties on him because he cares for you.”
Consider putting yourself in a Bible story. I often imagine that I am the last Israelite in line hurrying to get across the Red Sea before being caught by the thundering Egyptian army. I make it just in time as the waters close. What a sense of relief!
4. We’re ready now to transition from soul to spirit.
Don’t be in a hurry here. We did most of the talking when we prayed in our souls. Now, it’s time for us to be quiet while God does the talking.
“Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong. Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few. A dream comes when there are many cares, and many words mark the speech of a fool” (Ecclesiastes 5:1-3).
Here we listen for the promptings and guidance of the Holy Spirit. He may give us answers to questions. He may give us a better understanding of his will, or his plans for our lives. He may tell us about people and things who/which need our prayers that we would miss if we only focused on praying in our souls.
While we’re praying in the spirit, it’s a good idea to spend some time in worship. Jesus said, “God is looking for worshipers who will worship him in spirit and in truths” (John 4).
Well Brooke, thanks for asking this question. I hope that my answer will bless your heart, and the hearts of many others.
Dr. Roger Barrier retired as senior teaching pastor from Casas Church in Tucson, Arizona. In addition to being an author and sought-after conference speaker, Roger has mentored or taught thousands of pastors, missionaries, and Christian leaders worldwide. Casas Church, where Roger served throughout his thirty-five-year career, is a megachurch known for a well-integrated, multi-generational ministry. The value of including new generations is deeply ingrained throughout Casas to help the church move strongly right through the twenty-first century and beyond. Dr. Barrier holds degrees from Baylor University, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Golden Gate Seminary in Greek, religion, theology, and pastoral care. His popular book, Listening to the Voice of God, published by Bethany House, is in its second printing and is available in Thai and Portuguese. His latest work is, Got Guts? Get Godly! Pray the Prayer God Guarantees to Answer, from Xulon Press. Roger can be found blogging at Preach It, Teach It, the pastoral teaching site founded with his wife, Dr. Julie Barrier.
Publication date: June 1, 2017
Photo credit: Unsplash.com