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Let’s pray now! How, when, where and what we pray

by Lynn Blase, Entrust, Serbia

“Let’s not give up meeting together ...” (Heb. 10:25)

Group in a line praying

I wonder what the original recipients’ reactions were to these words. Were the believers thankful for this admonition because some had stopped meeting with them, and they did not want the exodus to continue? Perhaps there were some in the church who were considering not meeting together any longer and found these words to be convicting. Did they find these words to be encouraging, the very reason the author of Hebrews wrote them?

When we meet together, we encourage one another. Over the years, the bride of Christ has encouraged me in more ways than I can recall; therefore, I cherish meeting with other believers. They encourage me to share my faith, use my spiritual gifts and study the Bible. They also encourage me to pray.

In the four decades I have followed Jesus, I have learned much about praying from fellow believers, and I have had opportunities to pass along what I have learned about prayer to others, thus encouraging and being encouraged.

Four aspects of prayer which have been significant for me these past few years are 1) how we pray, 2) where we pray, 3) when we pray, and 4) what we pray.

How we pray

How we pray is one of the first spiritual practices discussed when mentoring a new believer. This aspect encompasses several topics such as our posture when praying and whether we are more comfortable praying aloud or silently.

man in church praying

I learned something new about how to pray my first week in Serbia, where my husband Jim and I have been serving since 2018. We began attending an early morning prayer gathering at our church. What I immediately noticed —and continue to notice whenever a group of local believers gather to pray — is that these folks do not pause when one person finishes praying and another begins. No five seconds of silence, such as I’d grown accustomed to in America. I sense that the Serbians are so eager to pray that when one stops another immediately begins. It seems as though no one wants to pause the worship. They literally “pray without ceasing.” (1 Thess. 5:17) Joy from the privilege of praying for others and praying in the presence of God is palpable.

Whether we pause or not is not my point. Rather, how eager do I sound when I pray? If an unbeliever were to listen in on the Serbians’ prayer gatherings, he would probably conclude, “Wow! Those people are crazy about their God.” The Lord knows I need to pray with folks who see prayer as a delight and not a chore. Whoever taught these first-generation Serbian Christians how to pray did a great job.

Where we pray

Where can we pray? Simple question, right? We know that God is omnipresent and that prayer is communicating with God, so the obvious response is, everywhere. Once again, though, the Serbian believers enlarged my view of this second aspect of prayer by teaching me about an invaluable place to pray.

This same church where we gather in the morning to pray places great priority on prayer during outreach events. When the church hosts such an event — for example, an Alpha course — a group gathers in the balcony and prays while the event takes place below on the main floor of the sanctuary. The group gathers every week that the event is held and prays the entire time the event is taking place that day.

I had not experienced this before and began to wonder why. Praying during an important church event encourages the believers hosting the event and can usher in amazing spiritual blessings.

I am a slow learner. Even though I have seen the great benefit of this prayer opportunity for the past four years, I have yet to employ it, even though we had a perfect opportunity a couple months ago. Jim and I, along with four Serbians, presented a workshop about family and technology. The team had worked months preparing for this workshop, and we knew how valuable it would be to families, many of whom were seeing technology addiction among their children. Why did we not ask believers to pray in the balcony during this workshop? Praying at events is a much needed and effective place to pray.

When we pray

One of our acts of service here in Serbia is to train church leaders. In this service, Jim and I have opportunities to share with Serbian believers what we have learned about when to pray, the third aspect of prayer in my list. When discussing with others when to pray, we share what we have learned, not only through words but also through our actions.

My understanding of when to pray was shaped by an experience I had many years ago. As a new believer I met, for the first time, a Jews for Jesus missionary. He was handing out tracts (remember those goodies?) in front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. My friend and I stopped to talk with him, and the three of us shared about our faith in Jesus. As my friend and I were departing, I asked the missionary if he would pray for us that evening because we were hosting an outreach event in a park. He said that his evening may be busy and he might not remember so, “Let’s pray now.” And we prayed.

When believers ask us to pray, Jim is quick to say, “Let’s pray now,” and we pray. My experience with believers in many countries is that prayer is often delayed until later. Why delay it? Let’s pray now and, if I remember, I will pray later as well.

This approach to prayer can be used while facilitating an Entrust course. One of the most popular Entrust courses here is the parenting course. Often during a meeting, a parent will share a challenge he is experiencing with his child, which weighs heavy on his heart. As leaders we can say, “Let’s pray now,” a simple three-word phrase that can bring encouragement to the parent and remind everyone present that prayer is a must in parenting.

What we pray

The words we can speak to the Lord are unlimited. Reading the Psalms gives us the idea that there is no topic we cannot bring before God because “before a word is on my tongue you, O God, know it completely.” (Psalm 139:14) Our joys, heartaches, struggles, griefs … he hears them all.

This past year I was challenged to take a closer look at what I prayed for. I noticed a trend in my prayers and the prayers of many others. My physical requests far outnumbered the spiritual. I was more likely to pray for others’ physical healings than to pray that “the eyes of their hearts be enlightened.” There is nothing wrong with praying for the physical. In fact, it is absolutely necessary. To whom else can we pray but to God when we are sick or need a job? Jesus taught us to pray for daily needs. (Matt. 6:11; Luke 11:3)

If we study Paul’s prayers, however, we notice that he rarely prayed for the material. Rather, Paul’s heart was moved to pray for the salvation of others (Rom. 10:1), that believers’ love would increase (Phil. 1:9; 1 Thess. 3:12), that Jesus would be glorified in the work of the church (2 Thess. 1:11-12) and many more similar prayers.

I began looking for opportunities to share this insight with other believers. I did not wait long. At the end of a Bible study with a group of eight women who have been Christians for about two years, I asked them to share requests for which we would then pray. All of the requests had to do with physical healing. In fact, that is the only request these women have ever shared. I asked them if they thought about praying for the spiritual. Not understanding my question, I then asked them to name an unbeliever whom they know and for whom they would pray regularly for salvation. Now they understood my question. We continue to explore Paul’s prayers, desiring to have our hearts and minds transformed by the power of the Spirit in what we pray.

It is great news that no matter how long we live on this earth, we can mature in our prayer lives as we continue meeting together, sharing with one another what we are learning about prayer. As I consider what I have learned about prayer from other believers just this year alone, I am eager to see what growth next year will bring regarding this wonderful gift. There is much more to explore and put into practice about how to pray, when to pray, where to pray and what to pray.

Lynn Blase

Lynn Blase

Listen to the Entrust Equipping Leaders podcast.

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