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Prayer Changes Everything

Pray without ceasing.

1 Thessalonians 5:17
Prayer Changes Everything Book Cover

Angela of Foligno, known as the “Mistress of Theologians” in the 1200s, wrote, “Since it is necessary to know the uncreated God and Christ crucified, for otherwise we cannot transform our minds through divine love, we should read diligently in the Book of Life . . . We cannot possibly manage this reading or acquire this knowledge, without . . . constant prayer. . . . We discover God through and in prayer.”1

Reading the Bible isn’t enough. Without God’s guidance, we can twist the words to justify our misactions and harmful behaviors. That’s what happened with the Pharisees. Those men knew Scripture backward and forward, but, neglecting God’s guidance, they ended up with a vulgar idea of God’s kingdom.

When we accompany our reading with prayer, the Holy Spirit uses the Bible to shape, encourage, convict, comfort, and sanctify us. Without his work, our work accomplishes nothing. Bible reading, and the larger work of sanctification, requires nothing less than constant prayer. It’s the secret ingredient. One of the ways prayer can influence our walk with God is by illuminating Scripture as we read it.

Three Types of Prayer

Prayer calls out to God for help and communes with him. Through the centuries, the church has practiced different types of prayer. One is intentional prayer, time set apart to talk to God. For this type of prayer, get on your knees, girl. Who hasn’t fallen asleep praying in bed? Kneeling to pour your heart out to God and seek his will keeps us physically alert and reminds us through this posture of who we are—humbled before him and dependent on him. We cling to our almighty God as we wrestle in prayer and bring him our requests.

A second type of prayer is the constant conversation in our heads. This mental prayer focuses us on God during everyday tasks. We direct every thought, question, and hurt to God and listen for the answering nudge of the Holy Spirit. The more we fill our minds with Scripture, the more the Holy Spirit reminds us of these bits and pieces throughout our lives to guide our responses, emotions, and reasoning. When we feel overwhelmed or frustrated, we can repeat the Lord’s Prayer, which fills our minds with God and calls out to him for help.

A third type of prayer practices the presence of God in our lives.2 This prayer may begin with meditation on a Bible verse or through a prayer such as the Lord’s Prayer and moves to silence as we sit in God’s presence like a child cuddling in her father’s lap. This prayer centers us, reminding us that we are God’s child.

These different types of prayer help to form us into Christ’s image. They guide our understanding of Scripture and make us aware of the Holy Spirit’s voice. Without prayer, the task of sanctification is hopeless. After all, only our creator can reshape us.

 

1 Angela of Foligno, Liber visionum, quoted in Invincible Spirits, compiled by Felicity Leng (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Co., 2006), 95.
2 Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God.

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Comments (19)

I’ve really enjoyed reading through scripture and allowing the Spirit to lead me to focus on one verse. I’ve been reading in Colossians and it has really opened my eyes to certain truths that I often forget. That is God showing me who he is through His Word and through prayer as the Holy Spirit brings those scriptures to mind throughout the day.

God has reminded me that life is better with Him.

This study as brought to light that I am lacking in prayer. I mostly practice the 2nd type of prayer but rarely practice types 1 or 3 even during the time I have set apart to be with God. I will begin practicing these other more intentional types of prayer.

This reading convicted me to get back to prayer on my knees. I used to, since starting my in-home preschool/daycare I have not had a deep devotional or deep time of prayer. Since this is the first day of 2021 I am going to do my best in committing myself to deeper prayer on my knees with God, and deeper devotional times, like I used to.

God showed me his strength. There was a day I was not feeling my best, and needed to be there for others, I truly saw the power of the Holy Spirit pick me up and give me strength and endurance I did not think I had.

Recently, God has taught me about His abiding love through prayer. I have neglected my prayer life for a couple of years. So was unsure about God meeting me. I intentionally set time aside to begin practicing prayer – I felt like I was starting from the beginning of my walk with God. But that’s not what happened. God met me just like an old friend I hadn’t seen in awhile. Love, acceptance, delight is all I felt from Him.

He has taught me that He hears me. Even if I might not think He does, He just wants me to know that He hears me. He knows my heart. I have faith that He will not abandon me. Deuteronomy 31:6 tells me that. So even though I might be in a quiet season, I just have to continue to talk to Him; He hears me.

God sees me and my situation and He hears every cry of my heart. He doesn’t always give me what I want, thankfully, especially when I look back in hindsight, however He does give me what I need when I need it in ways I may not have imagined. He’s in control. I can’t even imagine how His heart must be torn apart as He sees what’s going on. When I don’t know what to pray, the Holy Spirit does. His ways are so much better than my ways. He has taught me that while I can’t change on my own that I am not alone I just need to yield and let Him change me from the inside out. Thankfully He is faithful. When I feel distant He’s not the one who moved – it’s me! When I abide with Him and stay near He makes more time for my day when I start with Him first. He guides me to what’s most important and guess what some of the things I wanted to do don’t matter when I consider the impact from an eternal point of view.

We will and do always need prayer to pray for ourselves our family and friends because everybody needs prayer, we live in a fallen world where a lot of bad and negative things can and do sometimes happen the enemy could be closer than we know
Prayer is the important thread that can and will help give the masterpiece the color it needs
1 Thessalonians 5:17

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