Stages of Prayer

20 May

1 John 2:12-14, Matthew 7:7

The devotional that I would like to share today is about prayer. I believe as Christians, prayer is inseparable from our daily life. As a Christian, prayer should become a way of life, a breath on which we live upon. Just like the Bible is our daily bread, prayer is our breath.

In the Bible, Jesus never explicitly taught His disciples how to preach, but only how to pray. You would have guessed that as a well-known preacher at that time, He would have taught his disciples to preach rather than to pray. But He only taught them how to pray. It means that Jesus acknowledged that prayer should be put in a special place in our daily lives.

However, many of us Christians are frequently discouraged in prayer due to the fact that we have prayed long enough, but it seemed that God has never listened, much less answered our prayers.

In my church, I am currently in the prayer ministry. We called them prayer warriors, and I really do like this term because it signifies that prayer is indeed not a small thing. It signifies the importance of praying. Throughout this ministry, I learned a lot about prayer, namely the stages of prayer. Just like our life, prayer has its own stages, and I will draw a parallel between the stages of our spiritual life and the prayer life.

There are three main audiences that are addressed in 1 John 2. It specifically said that it was written for children, young men, and fathers. There are also three steps of prayers as listed in Matthew 7:7, which are ask, seek, and knock. Drawing a comparison between the two, these are the three stages of prayer that I would want to talk about.

  • Children (Ask)

Have you ever wondered, why newborn Christians always have their prayers answered straight away? Have you ever wondered, why God seemed to answer every prayer that newborn Christians prayed almost immediately? Well, this is the answer. This is the first stage of prayer, the initial stage of praying.

In this stage, we are considered as babies, toddlers, or even children. This stage is the first time we started to know God, and we prayed to Him for anything that we could ask for. We ask, and we receive. It is the same as our earthly parents when we are in our toddler years. We just have to cry and they will come and take care of us.

  • Young men (Seek)

This is the second stage of prayer. As we know Him more and more each day, we do not only ask and receive, but we also seek His will on what we are praying for. We experience something else, something that requires us not to only ask, but also take action. For example, in Matthew 17:21 (NASB), Jesus said to His disciples that it did not only require prayer, but also fasting.

Now, I do not want to stray out of the topic very much, but fasting, more than often means to seek what His will in our lives is. I will probably in the future made a post about fasting, but for now, if you want to know more, you can view a post that my sister in Christ has made in her own blog.

  • Fathers (Knock)

This is the third stage of prayer. In this stage, just like in the verse, we understand what God wants, we know His words, and we listen to His words continually. There is nothing that He hides from us, and we fully give ourselves to God, and continually knock on His door because we know He holds the master plan.

This is also the stage where we began intercessory prayer, praying intimately not for ourselves, but for others. And when I say intercessory, it does not mean a simple intercessory, but rather, putting ourselves in the shoes of the people we are praying for, and fasting for them.

As I have said in the beginning, these three stages are in parallel with our spiritual life. The difference between each of these stages is the spiritual maturity. As we walk with Christ in our daily life, we need to become matured spiritually, day by day (Hebrews 12:4-13, NIV). And I say the word need to be matured spiritually because it means that we need to partake ourselves in the process of being matured. As we grow matured spiritually, we need to change our mindset to reflect the spiritual age that we are currently in.

In prayer, the way we ask matters even more than the way we want our prayers to be answered. Just like with our earthly father, if we ask casually, chances are he would think that we are not serious. And he wants to see whether we are willing to work for it and show that we are responsible enough to handle it.

Remember, our God is our Father in heaven, and like most, if not all, fathers in this world, He wants to give the best for us. However, because He is a good father, He will only give us things that we are able to handle. He would not give a car to someone who does not know how to drive one. He would not give a 9-5 job to someone who cannot even wake up at 7 in the morning. He would not give a girlfriend to someone who cannot even manage their own self. Just like in Spider-Man, with great power, comes great responsibility. Would a good father give a great power to someone who shows a little responsibility?

Often times, we tend to think that our prayers are not good enough, that maybe God seems to forget to answer our prayer. Well, to be honest, the Bible actually give us guidance to the key to answered prayers:

  • Matthew 21:22
  • Mark 11:24
  • John 14:13
  • John 15:7
  • John 16:23
  • 2 Corinthians 1:20
  • James 1:5
  • James 4:2-3
  • 1 John 5:14-15

Although I would not give the verses here, I strongly suggest you to open each and every one of them and read them. Those are the promises and keys for answered prayers. We can ask whatever we want and we will receive what we seek, if we ask in Jesus’ name, abide in Him, and His words abide in us. We ask according to His will, if we ask not amiss, so that we may spend it on our own pleasures and lusts, but for the glory of God.

The Bible is very clear on God’s end of equation, but more importantly, what about our end? If there is a problem with our prayer being answered, it is on our end, not on His. Just like a radio, or TV signal. There is nothing wrong with the broadcast signal, but unless we are tuned correctly, we are not going to receive it.

Often times, when we pray, in return we are asked to do something rather than receiving an immediate answer. It is more to a “let’s give it some time and see how it goes” rather than a “no”. It is the maturing process, through prayer, that God wants all of us to experience. There are many things that God wants to give to us, but until we are matured enough in our faith and character, it would be irresponsible for Him to do so. Brothers and sisters, it is time to grow up.

Stay blessed.

 

PS:

Some of the points here was inspired and taken from the book The Prayer Warriors Way by Cindy Trimm. It is a very powerful, and inspiring, as well as eye-opening book. I would really suggest you to either buy it or have a read through the first few chapters.

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