Most people find it difficult to pray. You'd think it would be easy but interestingly, it's not. In this age of instant stimulation, social networking and immediate feedback, the habit of praying just doesn't do it for many.
Most Christians know that it's a spiritual discipline and something one should naturally do, but invested input doesn't always equal expected output. Nor does answered prayer come in the Pentium or Thunderbold speed we're used to in the 21st century. Therefore, prayer is oftentimes viewed more as a burden than a privilege. A chore versus a blessing.
If you're one of the many who honestly feel this way, realize you're being conditioned by another spirit (Ephesians 2:2). Prayer is just talking to God. Like with every relationship, the more you know and understand God, the easier it becomes to engage with Him.
Most Chinese believers share with us that they were never taught how to have an intimate relationship with their physical father, so initially, it is difficult to know what to say to their heavenly Father. That's totally understandable.
At East Gates, we teach Chinese believers how to read the Bible and how to pray. They go hand in hand. The more you understand God's Word, the more you know how to pray. The more you know how to pray, the more you know how to listen to God's Spirit which is the authority by which all of heaven and earth bow down. You now have connection to true loving power. God the Father is love and LOVE is the greatest power in all of Creation. Read I John 4, specifically verses 8 and 16.
Right now, you may be wrestling for greater control over every aspect of your life. You may sense that you're losing ground that you took years to gain. Some of you may feel desperate and are in the battle of a lifetime, the most tumultuous storm of your life. It may be with your parents, your spouse, your relatives, best friend or co-workers. Whomever and whatever, know that God is in control! He is on His Throne. It may not feel like it, but reality is not based on feelings. It's during times like this when you need to know all the names for God as mentioned in the Bible. One of God's many names is El Roi, the God Who Sees (Genesis 16:13). He sees everything and is fulfilling His Kingdom purposes for all of us.
A prayer manual we definitely recommend to Chinese disciples is Prayer Portions by Sylvia Gunter. The Lord had her dedicate 15 years of her life to put this anointed manual together. It's now a powerful tool in the hands of pastors, lay leaders and disciples. If studied carefully, you will start to rock heaven and earth with your enlightened intercessions and petitions before God's Throne Room. You will come to know God in ways you never have before. You will start to grasp the depth, heighth and breadth of why the inspired Word puts so much emphasis on God's Name. Isaiah 57:15 alone should give us great hope and comfort.
Isaiah 57:15 -- For thus says the high and exalted One Who lives forever, whose name is Holy, I dwell on a high and holy place, and also with the contrite and lowly of spirit in order to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.
The Spirit of God wants to impart to you a new release on life today. Re-align yourself with God's purposes and yours will be made more clear and known. Take up the doubled-edged sword, which is the awesome Word of the God, and learn how to wield it in every circumstance and situation of life (Ephesians 6:17). Start winning, instead of losing battles. To do this, you must know God, the enemy and yourself. Realize that your real battle is NOT with people or flesh and blood but "against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Ephesians 6:12).
Do you feel spiritually parched and defeated? Turn to Ezekiel 37. Do you want a major revelation to come to a loved one that is tormented, struggling with addictions or forever in a rut? Do you want them set free to live life as it was always meant to be?
Jeremiah wanted this desperately for his people as Jesus wanted it for His city -- Jerusalem. As a result, God gave Jeremiah a vision of a valley of dry bones coming back to life (Ezekiel 37). We see it reiterated in I Corinthians 15:42-44.
I Corinthians 15:42-44 -- So it is with the resurrection of the dead. [The body] that is sown is perishable and decays, but [the body] that is resurrected is imperishable--immune to decay, immortal. It is sown in dishonor and humilation; it is raised in honor and glory. It is sown in infirmity and weakness; it is resurrected in strength and endued with power. It is sown a natural (physical) body; it is raised a supernatural (spiritual) body. [As surely as] there is a physical body, there is a spiritual body.
Now open to this passage yourself and read it for yourself out loud. Your version may be different. The one we used is from the Amplified Version but nevertheless, the power in the Word must be made resident in you. Speaking forth God's Truth out loud does far more than just "thinking it." Reflect and meditate on the fact that in Genesis 1, God spoke forth creation into being. He didn't just "think it" into being.
The Spirit of God wants to breathe new life into vast areas of spiritual dryness, barrenness, and deadness in your life. This is where Sylvia Gunter says you can use your increasing knowledge of the Bible, in concert with the Holy Spirit, to minister not only to your own needs but the great needs of others. In her more advanced prayer manual, Living in His Presence Vol.2, p.156-157, she shows how to use Ezekiel 37 to cry out to God for your own "dry bone" situations in your life and the life of others.
With true repentence, humility and sincerity, hold God's hand and pray the prayer below for yourself and/or someone whom you have a heart's desire to change. See if God will not perform a miracle.
37:1 Father, your hand is upon us in Spirit-led intercession for (_name_). Purify our hearts by your Spirit and deposit your burden of prayer in us, unmixed with unsanctified sympathies, anger, bitterness, or human judgments. We are trusting you to bring us through the valley of the shadow of death, as you promised. Lead us to pray as large, deep, and wide as your providence in this situation. Give us a heart of wisdom and mercy that rejoices against judgment for ________.
37:2 We trust that you have gone before and are working, even when we don't see your purposes. Spirit of the Lord, lead us to rightly discern the real condition of _________, not just react to what we think or have been told. You see the dry bones of barrenness and desolation. You know the entrances that ______ has given the kingdom of evil. _______ is oppressed, fragmented, miserable and unhappy, alienated from your blessing, morally compromised with sin and deception, rebelling against their parents and your Word, and in great danger. Their present condition is not hopeless to you. In darkness, you are light.
37:3 Spirit of counsel, you know everything. You don't need us to inform you. You want from us restful, trusting communion and absolute surrender to your will, your ways, and your timing. We humbly acknowledge our total dependence on you for faith to stand, for knowledge and counsel, for comfort and security, for direction and outcome. Let us speak only your prayers. Let us not accept as final the circumstances of evil and iniquity that our eyes see. You alone know the end from the beginning, and you are the God of the impossible.
37:4 Say to deaf ears, "Hear the word of the Lord!" At your direction, let us discern and pray your purposes for ______ and the entire family. Speak your words to them and cause them to respond obediently to you. Enable us to pray your prayers for the dry bones of ______'s body and soul (heart, mind, will, and emotions). Holy Spirit, call forth your purposes and the future and hope that you have planned for _________.
37:5-6 Sovereign Lord, speak your creative and restoring miracle to ________'s life with the same resurrection power that brought Jesus to life from the dead. Breathe new life into them by your Spirit. Set everything in place in your order in their life, so that ________ will know that you are Lord, Sovereign Ruler, rightfully due their loyalty and obedient service.
37:7 By faith, we believe you, obey you, and pray as you command. Answer by your Spirit and open a way where there seems to be no way. You go before, for you are the God of break-through. Give us a sign of encouragement. Let us hear the "rattling bones" coming together as you make ______ who you intend them to be: healthy, whole, functioning, life-giving. By your blood, Lord Jesus, regenerate life in them and cause the marrow of their inner being to begin to sustain life.
37:8 Thank you for every sign of Your goodness we see, no matter how small. You are answering, and we ask you to do it thoroughly. Superficial answers, cleaning up their act, and looking functional are not enough! Stop short of nothing less than a new heart, a new spirit, a new life. Enable us to reach deeper into your heart to pray your promises until your full purposes are accomplished in all the family.
37:9 Sovereign Lord, call forth from the north, the south, the east, and the west the breath of life for ________. You formed them in their mother's womb, and as you breathed in them the first breath of their life, breathe into them the new life of the Spirit in all your favor and purpose. Restore them to wholeness. Speak to them, "Choose wisdom, choose righteousness, choose freedom, choose life!"
37:10-11 No situation is hopeless to you. Sovereign Lord, break off the shackles of captivity. Cause _______ to stand up in all the fullness of your redeeming power. Make _______ mighty in your Spirit. Deliver them as an effectual weapon in your hand. Set into them your spiritual gifts and calling among their generation of yet-to-be evangelists, preachers, disciplers, and world-changers that Satan is working overtime to annihilate. Let us see your glory in these things that were intended for evil.
37:12 You have the keys to open the prison doors of sin, bondage, and destruction. Bring this captive out into all their true inheritance in you. Restore them to the family and the family of God.
37:13-14 Father, act in such a way that ________'s transformation will be a testimony to your redemptive power. What you are doing, do quickly. In Jesus' name, Amen.
God has given you every opportunity to receive a new release in life by obeying His Word, releasing the loving power of the Holy Spirit and thereby experiencing Him through continual life-giving prayer. Be bold, don't get distracted and get started now!