Department of Leadership Development and Discipleship
Samuel Chadwick was a Wesleyan minister, theologian, and professor immersed in the movement of Methodism and an authority on spirit-filled prayer.
Toward the end of his life he wrote,
“I wish I had prayed more, even if I had worked less; and from the bottom of my heart I wish I had prayed better.”
Norman G. Dunning, Samuel Chadwick (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1934), p. 19.
Do you sometimes become too busy to pray more or to pray better? Here are few thoughts to encourage you to continue praying more and praying better.
Why should I pray more?
Here are just a few of many reasons:
Prayer invites God to do what we cannot do. When the armies of the Moabites, Ammonites, and others came against Jerusalem, Jehoshaphat was filled with fear, but he knew who to turn to, and “set himself to seek the Lord” (2 Chronicles 20:3). With all of Israel standing around him, he declared, “For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you” (v. 12 NIV). God’s solution was unique, creative, and effective. Jehoshaphat’s prayerful invitation allowed God to work!
Prayer invites God to guide us. Before Jesus chose twelve of His followers to be disciples, or apostles, he spent the night in prayer. Even though Jesus had called them, taught them, and included them in ministry, when it came to the point of which of the disciples would continue the ministry after His death, Jesus prayerfully turned to His Father for guidance (see Luke 6:12,13).
Prayer invites God to show us His perspective. When God asked Elijah what he was doing in the cave, Elijah replied, “I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too” (1 Kings 19:10 NIV). After God tells Elijah to anoint Hazael as king of Syria, Jehu as king of Israel, and Elisha as his successor, God corrected Elijah’s faulty perception. “Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him” (v. 18). Sometimes when we are weary, afraid, or discouraged, coming into God’s presence through prayer can correct our faulty perceptions.
Prayer invites God to work first in us. David prayed, “Search me (thoroughly), God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive (hurtful) way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23, 24). When God works in us, then we are ready to be instruments He can use in the lives of those we lead.
How can we pray better?
Here are just a few ways that have
helped me pray better:
• Set aside a specific time and place to pray each day. Out of habit, when I come to that place, at that time, my thoughts are more easily captured and turned toward God.
• Meditate on God. Give Him thanks. Worship Him. Recognize that He is present and listening to you.
• Pray focused prayers. Focused prayers are prayers that focus on God’s will affirmed in God’s Word. What is God’s will for your family? Your ministry? Your local church? Your neighborhood and community? Your friends and other acquaintances? Pray God’s purposes. When applicable, pray specific verses of Scripture that state these purposes.
• Pray intentionally. Create a prayer list with specific needs written by each person’s name.
• Pray in the Spirit. The final piece of armor that Paul encourages the Ephesians to put on is praying in the spirit. Praying in the Spirit means that we allow God’s Spirit to guide our prayers so that they are faith-filled, discerning, and prayed with His authority. Sometimes we use our own words as the Holy Spirit moves on us to pray. Sometimes we pray in a heavenly language or with groanings that originate from the Holy Spirit within us.
• Pray continually. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 is one of the shortest verses in the Bible—just two words. But every moment of every day we can pray better by turning our attention toward our ever-present God and calling out to Him.