Pray, pray, pray

Pavel Goia, DMin, is the editor of Ministry.

Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). In other words, pray all the time. Really? “Prayer is the breath of the soul.”1 Or, pray like you breathe.. Really? Can we—busy shepherds—really do that? When? Where? And how?

Pray, when?

Jesus had a specific dedicated time when He went to pray. “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed” (Mark 1:35, NIV).

Nothing could touch or change that time. This was when Jesus presented His plans before God and received His power from God. Like Isaiah, Jesus could say, “He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed” (Isa. 50:4, NIV).

Pray, where?

Jesus had a specific dedicated place where He went to pray. As Mark said, He “went off to a solitary place” (1:35, NIV). Let’s face it, the bed is not the best place for prayer and study. Bed “smells” like sleep. After you wake up—get up.

We need to have a place set aside for com­munion with God, a holy place, an “upper room” that we know is set aside for communion with God. “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray” (Matt. 6:6, NIV).

Pray, how?

Jesus had a specific dedicated way that He prayed. In John 17, Matthew 26, and other places, we see Jesus praying out loud. His disciples heard Him praying—this is how they were able to write about His prayer. Him praying out loud is also why they asked Him to teach them how to pray.

When you pray in your mind, your brain can easily lose focus and wander, or your prayer could become routine. Pray like you’re having a real conversation with God. Jesus prayed genuinely but not generally. He prayed for Peter about a specific problem. He prayed for the sick about specific situations. If you want a specific answer, present a specific request.

Pray Specifically

Our son, Ovidiu, purchased a house at an extremely low price, but the house was small and in poor shape. He had to remodel and expand it to accommodate his family’s needs. However, prices had gone up considerably. In our conversations, he mentioned repeatedly that he would most likely not be able to complete the work due to lack of finances.

I asked Ovidiu to present his needs before God. I told him God cares for our every need. He told me he has prayed about the house—generally. I asked him to pray again—specifically. Present one need at a time. Don’t pray today for what you need tomorrow—or next month. Pray today for what you need today. Gather today’s manna for today’s need—and tomorrow’s for tomorrow.

He started praying specifically to find a team to dig the hole for the foundation of the house, then he began searching. However, all teams he contacted were scheduled months in advance, and they all charged somewhere between $18,000 and $22,000. Eventually he managed to negotiate with one team to lower the price to $16,000 and come the following week.

The leader of the team came, but the heavy machinery did not show up. After waiting all morning, he lost his patience, said he couldn’t come back for three months, then left. Our son was devastated. He didn’t have any solution.

Finally, Ovidiu asked God specifically for a team to dig a hole fast, and at a good price. As he finished his prayer, his next-door neighbor approached.

“How are you doing?” asked the neighbor.

“I’m OK. Just looking for a team to dig the hole for the foundation.”

“Well, I have a team digging the hole for my house right now. Ask them. Maybe they can do yours too.”

Ovidiu obeyed instantly. The team leader said, “Well, since we’re already here with our heavy equipment, I guess, as soon as we finish here, we can come and do your job.”

“Can you come and give me an estimate?” asked Ovidiu.

Upon looking, the team leader said, “I will do it for $2,500.”

Oh, what joy! Ovidiu saw that God had been preparing to answer him—God was just waiting for Ovidiu to pray.

Pray, always

Evangelist Oswald Chambers is known to have said, “Prayer does not fit us for the greater works; prayer is the greater work.”2 We have heard, taught, and preached about prayer. But pastor, how is your prayer life? When we take care of the when, the where, and the how, we will pray the way we breathe—without ceasing. I dare you to try it.

  1. Ellen G. White, Prayer (Nampa, ID: Pacific Press®, 2002), 12.
  2. Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest (Grand Rapids, MI: Our Daily Bread Publishing, 2017).

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Pavel Goia, DMin, is the editor of Ministry.

July 2024

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