Carol expected Jeremy to show up at any time. She kept looking out for him. She noticed the storm clouds gathering. She remembered that he’d told her he wouldn’t get there until after the storm. Still, she kept looking for him. She was watchful. You too are probably watchful. There is something you are expecting. It may even be stormy in your life but you have expectations. Here is the question, though. How are you praying while you’re watching.
Watchfulness is important. It signifies alertness. Life is filled with the unexpected. Being watchful, being alert allows you to be ready and prepared for what you expect and even what you do not expect.
This is September, national preparedness month in the USA. During this month we’ll be looking at different aspects of preparedness. Preparation is important. Consider what Jesus said in the context of his return:
But understand this: if the owner of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into.Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour (Matthew 24:43–44).
In other words, be prepared. When you are prepared you will be ready.
Whether it is Jesus’ literal return or the end of your life on earth, you must be ready and prepared to meet the Lord. In addition, when you look around you at events in your country and nationally, it is evident that things are changing and changing rapidly. You are seeing a shift and sometimes it seems as if the hour of darkness is imminent. You have to be prepared for living these days on earth as well.
Of course there are those who say that all is well. Or, there is no need to prepare. Just eat, drink, enjoy yourselves. Everything is going to be okay. Yet, when you look at the large scale and widespread dislocation due to natural disasters, social unrest/violence, and wars you know that something has changed. In addition, when you consider the number of people in slavery as a result of these things and human greed, you know that all is not well. Moreover, the persecution of Christians worldwide is increasing exponentially. Signs of a harsh economic reality are around for those with eyes to see. Which shoe will drop next? That seems to be the question. There are wars and rumors of war. Each natural disaster seems to be the biggest, and they are still coming.
This is the context in which you live. It’s a global reality. You’re in a Matthew 24 moment, especially verses 6–8. Who knows what the end of it all will be? What we do know is in all seasons we are called to be ready. Therefore, we must prepare.
Today we start with a basic element of preparedness—prayer.
How Are You Praying? 5 Tips
Pray with surrender
When you pray, do you act as if God is your child and your role is to tell God what to do and how to do it? Do you go beyond telling God what you need and move to giving God instructions on how to fulfill your need. How are you praying?
When you pray remember that God is God—omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent. God the Creator who is your Creator and knows you better than you know yourself. God knows what’s best for you and what you need in order to be and do who God created you to be. Thus, when you pray, pray and give your situation and yourself over to God.
Pray for wisdom
One of the things about preparation is that no two situations are precisely the same. The dynamics of the conditions of the people involved, location, and other factors makes each one unique. There are general aspects of preparation that will be the same for everyone. These you follow. However, when it comes to your specific situation there are aspects of it that God knows that you do not know. Very importantly, God knows the future and you don’t.
Thus, when you pray, ask God for wisdom to know not only how to live, but also how to prepare. Pray for wisdom to know how to prepare for life now, life in the uncertain future with its darkness, and life in eternity.
Pray with open ears. It’s one thing to ask. It’s another to receive. You may pray, but then be so busy that it is hard to hear what God is saying. Thus, it is important to have set times of stillness. These are times where you come before the Lord in a quiet environment with a period where you simply listen. Turn off the electronics. Yes. That includes the cell phone and the worship music. Shut out everything and listen to the voice that comes in silence.
Moreover, God does speak in other ways, including through God’s Word and dreams. Be open for God speak in other ways.
Finally, pray with obedient hearts determined to do what God says. That’s the other aspect of praying with open ears. How are you praying?
Pray without ceasing. Okay. So you’ve had your time to to listen to God. It’s your quality prayer time. However, do not stop your praying when you leave that space. Pray all the time.
As stuff happens and you learn about it, send up a prayer. Pray for the saints, especially those being persecuted. Live with your eyes open, asking God to show you what is happening on the surface and beneath. As you go about ask God for direction re best routes, etc. Ask God for protection for you and others. Ask God that people will repent and turn their hearts to God. Pray that you will be a channel of blessing.
Pray the Scriptures. Know the Scriptures and pray them. There are many prayers in the Bible that you can memorize. There are also Scriptures of encouragement that you can turn into prayers that you offer to God in the first person. Don’t know where to start? Try these:
- The Lord’s Prayer.
- Psalm 5.
- Psalm 4.
- Ephesians 1:17–19.
- Philippians 1:9–11.
- Colossians 1:9–14.
- Luke 10:2.
- Psalm 23.
- Psalm 91.
There are others. You may even have your own favorite Scripture prayers.
How are you praying? Prayer is foundational. Hear something else that Jesus said in the context of speaking of his return:
“Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:36 NRSV).
How are you praying? However you pray, be sure to pray with surrender, wisdom, open ears, without ceasing, and pray the Scriptures.
Get Closer to God and Live with Greater Confidence and Peace
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