(By Angila Curvey-Chukwu)
For some of us, when we were little girls, we were taught to pray; pray over our food, pray when we go to sleep, pray when we wake up, pray for our loved ones, pray, pray and pray some more. The Bible teaches us to “pray without ceasing.” It is one of the most intimate ways to build your relationship with God. Having open and deep conversations that you may not be able to have with anyone else, making request for self or others or simply crying out for help. Yes, it is absolutely necessary that we pray; however, we have to put some action behind it…
The very first thing we must do is to build a strong relationship with God; get to know Him, get to know His Word and let it change our heart and our mind. Get to know His voice. The more you get to know Him, the more in tune you will be, and it will change your prayer life tremendously. You will learn that prayer is not only asking for things but, it is time to worship, time to praise, (and definitely) time to listen. It is seeing things and people through Gods eyes. Look at things with your spiritual eyes, and see beyond your current circumstance. There are times that what we have been praying for is right in front of us, but we cannot see it because it either came packaged differently than we expected or we cannot see past the distractions the enemy has put in our way.
Believe: Mark 11:24 NLT “I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours.” When you are praying are you praying boldly, truly believing that what you are requesting will be manifested or are you moving your mouth, but your heart has doubt? When we doubt, we are saying that our request is too big for God. He is ruler and creator of all things. The bottom line is that either you believe, or you don’t. We must pray with complete confidence that what we are praying for will happen. Stand firm on The Word of God and know without a shadow of a doubt that He is able.
Be persistent: Ephesians 6:18 NLT “Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in our prayers and for all believers everywhere.” Is what we are seeking lined up with The Will of God for our life? It is so important that we allow the Holy Spirit to lead us on what and how to pray. We cannot be lazy in our request. We cannot give up. When we want something, we have to go after it full force, that includes our prayer request. Fight past the moments of wanting to throw in the towel because we cannot see, hear, or feel it. Keep pressing and pray without ceasing!
Prepare: Matthew 25:13 NLT “So you, too, must keep watch! For you do not know the day or hour of my return.” At all times, be prepared. Matthew 25:1-13 tells of 10 bridesmaids; five were prepared, five were not. The five that were not, missed out on what they had been waiting so long for, because they did not take the time to properly prepare. During the time of waiting, prepare for what you have been praying for. Praying for a house? Build your credit, and save money. Praying for a job? Have your interview clothes ready, and put things in place now so when the job comes you will not be looking for daycare, transportation or whatever may be a hinderance. We are asking for things; but, are we really prepared to receive them? Get things in place, so when it’s your turn and your time you will be ready to go! Do not be like the five bridesmaids that were locked out and left behind after waiting all that time. Do not be the cause for the delay of your blessing. As T.D. Jakes says, “Get ready! Get ready! Get ready!”
Do your part: James 2:17 NLT “So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.” We cannot simply sit on the sideline, not making any effort. Praying, trusting, and believing are all acts of faith. The Bible clearly tells us that faith without works is dead. Get up and do something. That is like praying to lose weight, and then eat a dozen donuts as soon as the words come out of our mouth. We must do our part! Get up and move! Walk it out, write it out, shout it out... just get it out! Doing our part comes in many forms, it may be fasting, letting go of unforgiveness, bitterness and resentment, to bless and encourage others, to go and mend a broken relationship, or to sit still until God says otherwise. Therefore; it is important for us to know the voice of God. Trust the process even when you cannot trace it.
Self-reflection: Matthew 7:4 NLT “How can you think of saying to your friend. 'Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,' when you can’t see past the log in your own eye?” Take the time to do some deep self-reflection. What is in your heart? What are some of the things that you need to release or change? So often we pray for God to fix others when it is us that needs the “fixing”. Be open and be honest to see the things that may be standing in the way of what you are praying for. Is it pride? Is it unforgiveness? Is it anger? Is it doubt? Is it jealousy? Whatever it may be; dig deep, and uproot it to make room for what you have been praying for.
It was not until I started to focus more on building my relationship with Christ that things begin to change in my life. Before my focus shifted, I would pray for my family, but it seemed like the more I prayed the worse it got. I began to feel defeated and it showed.
My prayers were getting weaker and then they became scarce. I could not see beyond what was going on around me. I was listening to the enemy and his lies. Things will never get better. Things are too broken to be mended. You are weak. You are a horrible wife and mother. You are a failure. The more I listened, the deeper I began to sink. I had allowed all that was going on to stand between me and The Promises of God. I had forgotten what He spoke to me and over me many years ago. What He spoke over my family. Slowly, but surely, as I began to speak things as I wanted them to be, that I began to get my strength back. I stopped believing the lies and falling for the tricks of the enemy.
I began to meditate on The Word of God and to see things beyond the veil. I stopped being ashamed (another trick of the enemy), and asked for help. I begin to truly believe, that what the enemy came to steal, kill and destroy would be saved and restored. I refused to quit! I was persistent in my request. I stayed on my face, fasting and praying. I anointed every door and every window; it was oil everywhere! I even prayed over the dogs. I began to make room and throw away things that were just taking up space, causing clutter. I was quiet when I needed to be (this was very hard for me), I spoke up when I needed to, I prayed for others, I encouraged others, I listened and let God lead. I took my hands from the wheel and stayed in my place. I took a hard look at myself.
What were the things in my life that were causing a wedge between me and my God that had slowed down my blessing being fully released? When I looked in the mirror, I saw that I was full of resentment, anger, pride, rebellion, fear, hurt and shame... everything opposite from what God expects from us. As I began to allow those strongholds to be stripped from my life, I could see a difference. Are things perfect, not at all; but I continue to fix my thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable.
Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise! (Philippians 4:8 NLT)
I encourage you, continue to pray, continue to build relationship and intimacy with God, and put some action behind it!