I’ve been working on praying. I’ve always felt comfortable going to God with requests, but as I shared in a previous post, lately I’ve been trying to be more consistent and deliberate as I pray. Lately I’ve been trying to view them as daily one-on-ones rather than reactions to whatever circumstances I find myself in.

This was a topic we covered Ephesians 3:14-21 at church on May 15. In this sermon, Pastor Matt suggested hiding from those you live with to hang out with God and pray (watch at 32:29–34:58). 

Some of you might be thinking, I don’t like praying out loud . . . and if you don’t like praying out loud, that’s okay. It’s okay if you don’t like to pray out loud, cause Jesus often found a solitary place, a quiet place. And He instructs His disciples to go into their room, to hide in the room, hide in their closet, and pray to your Father who is in secret. So you don’t have to worry about talking out loud. It’s about spending alone time talking with God. 

It’s just like fostering any relationship . . .  there’s times for hanging out in a large group, and there’s times where it’s the smaller group, and there are times that to really bring a relationship to the next level of friendship, you’ve got to have some one-on-one time, alone time . . . we foster this through prayer. And that prayer should be a daily thing, not just an afterthought when tragedy strikes or when circumstances are less than ideal, when life’s not going the way that we want it to. 

And this is what I was thinking this week, where I was challenging myself. I dare to challenge you as well to find 30 minutes this week, where you hide . . . we’re going to play the adult version of hide and seek, all right? Where we hide from whoever you live with and you seek the Lord. You pray with Him for 30 minutes . . . don’t bring your phone with you, cause it’s going to distract you . . . leave your phone out of the room. 

If you need to set a timer for 30 minutes, do it. And you say, Matt, what on earth would I pray for for 30 minutes? . . . well, we’re going to look at some ideas of the things that Paul prayed for.

Posture as I Pray

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father (Eph. 3:14

It’s not unusual to think of people kneeling by their bed as they pray, but at the time Paul wrote this, it wasn’t typical. Back then, they would stand or lie face down. However, Paul is giving us a visual of bowing before a king. I really like that! 

What to Pray For

When you pray, it’s just a conversation with God–it doesn’t have to be formal. Still, it can be hard to know where to begin. Pastor Matt went through the examples Paul provided in Ephesians 3:16–21, one verse at a time, to give us some helpful starting points.

Power and Strength

. . . that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being (Eph. 3:16)

You don’t always need to be strong–you can ask God for His strength! Ask for power over temptation or discouragement. I’ve started asking strength to follow through on everything that needs to be done and perspective to see my kids as the blessings they are. It’s especially hard for me in the evenings between the time I’m done with work and when I put the kids to be, but that’s the best opportunity I have to focus on them each day! I’ve started asking God to give me the power and strength to be present with them.

Christ’s Presence

. . . so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love (Eph. 3:17)

Ask for Christ’s presence to be in our lives as a permanent owner, in the things we do, think about, and react to. Reactions are a big focus for me. It’s so easy to be focused on how I feel, especially when I’m tired after work. I’m trying to ask God for His presence in those moments so I make decisions based on what He wants me to do, rather than however my feelings are swaying my mood.

This is a theme we see throughout the Bible in books Paul didn’t write, too. 

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him (1 John 4:16).

What we dwell in matters. What we spend our time thinking about, listening to, and watching affects us. By abiding in God (spending time with Him as we pray and read the Bible), He abides in us.

Where are you planted? Are you allowing Him to nourish you? 

He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers (Psalm 1:3).

Knowing God’s Love

For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father (Eph. 2:18).

Because of Jesus, we can experience God’s love first hand. And this love is so much more than we can fathom. Job 11:7-9 paints this picture:

Can you find out the deep things of God?
Can you find out the limit of the Almighty?
It is higher than heaven—what can you do?
Deeper than Sheol—what can you know?
Its measure is longer than the earth and broader than the sea.

God’s love is unlimited. I love my kids unconditionally, but my love for them can’t extend longer than the earth or higher than the heavens. I’m not capable. But God is. He has that kind of love for us. The kind of love that gave up everything in obedience, even to the point of a painful, sacrificial death, so we can experience the Holy Spirit’s presence and God the Father’s love.

Transformation and Growth

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God (Eph. 2:19)

God transforms us so we become more and more like Him. Instead of being an outsider, He’s adopted me into His family and is slowly helping me grow more and more into the daughter I can be through Him.

A Solid Foundation

. . . built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone (Eph. 2:20-21)

How do you make decisions for you and your family? Do you pray about them? Are you building off of Jesus?

In Matthew 7:24-27, Jesus talks about two men that both hear Jesus’ words, but one builds their life on His foundation (shown as a visual of a house on a rock) and one doesn’t (a house on the sand).

It’s not enough to just hear what God says. We also need to follow through and make Him our foundation. As I pray, I’ve started asking Him to help me make Him my family’s foundation, so I can be someone that hears and then does.

Additional Ideas

Pastor Matt provided some additional ideas to include in your prayer time:

  • Eternal purposes (bringing more people to know Him).
  • Empower the church (giving us His direction, unity, strength, etc.).
  • Equip the saints for battle (helping us endure the enemy’s attacks).
  • Experience peace (that no matter what’s going on, we can find peace in Him).

How to Pray

Get a Chair

Sometimes it’s hard to connect with God when you can’t see Him. Pastor Matt suggested putting out an extra chair so you can imagine He’s sitting right there with you.

Start with the Lord’s Prayer

If you’re having trouble getting started, begin with the Lord’s prayer.

Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

Write it Down

When I pray, it helps me to write it down. I have a tendency to get distracted. My mind starts jumping around from one thing to the next and my thoughts are all scattered. By writing it down, I’m able to focus my thoughts on what I’m talking to God about, and pray about one thing at a time. Plus, as a bonus, when I find the prayers later sometimes I can see how God answered it.

How Do You Get Started?

Do you have any key things you like to talk to God about when you pray? I’d love to hear them as I continue to learn and grow in this area!

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